Korean cabbage pancakes (baechu jeon) are crispy and delicious. They are simple and inexpensive to prepare, making them a great snack or appetizer.

Korean cabbage pancake with chopsticks on a plate.

I had a few pieces of napa cabbage leaves left from making fresh kimchi salad (geotjeori), so I decided to make delicious Korean cabbage pancakes, called baechu jeon (배추전).

This cabbage pancake is part of Korean jeon (pancakes) and originated in the southern province of South Korea where I grew up. Young napa cabbage leaves are drenched in a simple batter and pan-fried until lightly golden and crispy. Enjoy them with a tangy soy sauce-based dipping sauce. Surprisingly delicious!

Cabbage pancakes on a plate with dipping sauce and chopsticks.

I remember my mother making these blissfully crispy cabbage pancake snacks for us whenever she had extra napa cabbage from other dishes. My siblings and I would happily eat them all up. They were so yummy!

You might think the recipe is similar to Japanese cabbage pancake (okonomiyaki), but it’s quite different in preparation and taste. Korean cabbage pancakes are super easy to make and highlight the subtle sweetness of young napa cabbage without the extra toppings.

Baechu jeon is also one of the simplest Korean pancakes you can make. The recipe is simpler than the well-known pajeon recipe with is made with scallions. It is a quick, savory snack that everyone will love and another delightful way to enjoy our beloved Korean cabbage.

Ingredients

Ingredients for making Korean cabbage pancakes.
  • Napa cabbage: I recommend using young napa or hearts of napa cabbage leaves. They are more tender and sweet than regular napa. If young napa isn’t available, regular napa cabbage leaves will work fine.
  • Dried baby shrimp (optional): his adds a nice umami taste to the cabbage without a strong shrimp flavor. It’s optional, but if you have it, add it, or substitute with a bit of Korean anchovy sauce. You can find this basic Korean pantry item in many Asian grocery stores or Korean markets.
    • If you prefer to enjoy this recipe as vegan or vegetarian, simply omit the dried shrimp.
  • Korean pancake mix (buchimgaru): Buchimgaru is like Korean bisquick. This Korean home cook’s secret to perfect savory pancakes contains ingredients like onion and garlic. Don’t confuse it with western-style pancake mix. If you can’t find it, see below for substitution ideas.
  • Potato starch: It lightens the pancake coating and helps with a crispy texture. You can use cornstarch if potato starch isn’t available.
  • Ice water: Water combines all the ingredients into a wet batter. The icy coldness helps make the pancake extra crispy when pan-fried.
  • Oil: Use neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable oil.

For Dipping Sauce

Korean pancakes always pair with a salty and tangy dipping sauce made with soy sauce. You’ll need basic pantry ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), and a hint of sugar.

Garnishing with toasted sesame seeds is nice but not necessary.

How to Make Korean Cabbage Pancakes

Prepare Cabbage Leaves

Cut a 1-2 inch slit in the center of the cabbage stem with a knife or kitchen scissors so the leaves lay flat when pressed down. If needed, pound the stem with the back of knife or a heavy object.

Make Pancake Batter and Coat Cabbage

  • Combine all the pancake batter ingredients including crushed dried shrimp and stir together. The consistency should be thin and slightly runny.
  • One at a time, dip the napa cabbage leaves into the wet batter, allowing the excess batter to drip off.

Pan Fry the Cabbage

  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Place the battered napa cabbage leaf in the pan and gently press it down with a spatula to flatten the leaf.
  • Fry the cabbage for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown spots appear and the edges get crispy. Drizzle more oil around the cabbage if needed.
  • Do not flip the pancakes back and forth.

Serve

Serve the pancakes immediately with Korean pancake dipping sauce and enjoy while they’re hot. If the leaves are large, you can cut them into bite-sized pieces or use chopsticks to tear them.

Korean cabbage pancake served with a dipping sauce.

Helpful Tips

  1. If you don’t have the buchimgaru mix, here is a recipe you can make from scratch using basic pantry items. To make 1 cup of Korean pancake mix:
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  2. For a crispier texture, use a generous amount of oil.
  3. Adjust the heat level accordingly. If the surface is too hot, it creates brown spots too quickly while some areas of the batter remain uncooked.

More Recipes with Cabbage

Korean cabbage pancake with chopsticks on a plate.

Korean Cabbage Pancakes (Baechu Jeon)

Korean cabbage pancakes (baechu jeon) are crispy and delicious. They are simple and inexpensive to prepare, making them a great snack or appetizer.
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Ingredients

  • 8 young napa cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup Korean pancake mix (buchimgaru), see note below for homemade recipe
  • 2 tbsp potato starch, or cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp dried baby shrimp, or 1 tsp Korean anchovy sauce
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 4 tbsp oil, or more if needed

Dipping Sauce

Instructions 

  • Cut a 1-2 inch slit in the center of the cabbage stem with a knife or kitchen scissors so the leaves lay flat when pressed down. If needed, pound the stem with a heavy object.
  • Combine all the pancake batter ingredients and stir together. The consistency should be thin and slightly runny. Adjust the amount of ice water as needed. 3. Crush dried shrimp with your hands or chop them finely with a knife. Add the crushed shrimp into the wet batter and stir well.
  • One at a time, dip the napa cabbage leaves into the wet batter, allowing the excess batter to drip off.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Place the battered napa cabbage leaf in the pan and gently press it down with a spatula to flatten the leaf. Fry the cabbage for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown spots appear and the edges get crispy. Drizzle more oil around the cabbage if needed. Do not flip the pancakes back and forth.
  • Serve the pancakes immediately with Korean pancake dipping sauce and enjoy while they're hot. If the leaves are large, you can cut them into bite-sized pieces or use chopsticks to tear them.

Notes

Homemade buchimgaru from scratch (for 1 cup volume):
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
•1/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch
•1/2 tsp baking powder
•1/4 tsp salt
•1/4 tsp sugar
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp onion powder
 
If you want this pancake recipe to be vegan or vegetarian dish, omit the dried shrimps.
Calories: 280kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 907mg, Potassium: 130mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 298IU, Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 68mg, Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @beyondkimchee on Instagram. I love to see your masterpiece.