Kanako's Kitchen

Chijimi: Korean Vegetable Pancakes

Posted in main dish, Recipe, today's meal by Kanako Noda on October 17, 2009

chijimi

Wait, what on earth is Chijimi doing in a Japanese food blog!? Everybody knows chijimi are Korean pancakes! True enough, though it turns out, they don’t even call them “chijimi” in (most of) Korea. At least the name is ours.

I would argue that, while Chijimi is admittedly not from Japan, it is Japanese by now. It’s so popular, so common, so often made, it’s impossible for me to think of it as “foreign” – in the same way that nobody having a taco in California feels he’s eating “foreign” food.

Don’t let the word “pancake” throw you, by the way: Chijimi is a savory dish you can eat for lunch or dinner, not at all breakfast or desert food. Chijimi are glossed as “pancakes” simply because they are flat, more or less round and made with batter, even though you only really use the batter to hold the vegetables together.

What makes Chijimi really special is Niraニラ in Japanese, 부추 in Korean, 韭菜 in Chinese.

You may want to print out the characters for when you go shopping, as this vegetable can be confusing to locate in the west. It’s sold under a wide variety of names, including “Chinese leek”, “garlic chives” and “Chinese chives”. Nira is basically a type of grass. It looks like chives, but it has a very distinctive, deep, slightly spicy flavor that makes chijimi taste like chijimi.

In Montreal, you can always find the Nira in Épicerie Coréene et Japonaise on Ste. Catherine. Elsewhere, look for for places where Koreans shop – or go poke around Chinatown. And note that, while chijimi isn’t hard to make, it does take a little planning because you need to make the batter a few hours ahead of time.


Ingredients (For two)

For the batter

  • Wheat Flour – 200 g.
  • Salt – 1/2 a tea-spoon
  • Eggs – two
  • Water – 250 cc
  • Sesame oil – two table spoons

For the pancakes

  • Nira – one big bunch. Choose the kind without flowers.
  • Half an onion
  • Half a carrot
  • A little bit of squid or a few shrimp
  • Roasted sesame seeds – one table spoon

For the sauce

  • Soy sauce – 3.5 tablespoons
  • Vinegar – 1.5 tablespoons
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Sesame oil – 0.5 tablespoon
  • Dried hot chillies – to taste
  • One lime
  • A spring onion, cut thin

Preparation

  • Mix together all the ingredients for the batter, cover with saran wrap and let them sit in the fridge for 3 to 12 hours.

flour egg add water let the batter sit

  • Make the sauce. Mix together all the ingredients, squeezing in the lime into the sauce and then dunking the lime rinds in as well
  • Cut carrots and onions into very thin strips
  • Chop the shrimp or squid into small pieces
  • Cut Chinese leek into 10 cm. long sections
  • Mix the vegetables, the seafood, and the sesame seed into the batter

cut carrot cut onion shrimp

cut chinese leek mix click to enlarge

Cooking

  1. Coat a large frying pan with vegetable oil and heat on a medium flame
  2. Once the frying pan is reasonably hot, pour a thin layer of the batter-covered vegetables onto the pan
  3. Spread them evenly over the surface, pat it down, and cover
  4. Cook covered for four minute
  5. Uncover, say a short prayer, and flip it like you would a regular pancake
  6. Cover and cook the other side for another four minutes
  7. Put the finished chijimi in a dish and throw it in the oven on “hold warm” while you make the next chijimi

oil pour a thin layer of the batter-covered vegetables Cook covered for four minutes

flip! Cover and cook the other side for another four minutes hold warm

click to enlarge

Before serving, cut the chijimi into chop-stick friendly squares: 5 cm. by 5 cm.

cut chijimi

On the table, set up a little sauce plate for each diner. The way it works is that each person puts a piece of chijimi on his plate, pours a bit of sauce over it, and eats. Delicious!


Chijimi works great as party food. For today’s dinner we had chijimi just by itself.

17th dinnerItadakimasu!

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14 Responses

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  1. Tess said, on October 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Hi, then and best wishes to you!

    I came to your site because of a comment on my blog about Japanese home cooking.

    I am a little bit surprised, but maybe not so much, that Japanese people would like these Korean pancakes!
    The store closest to my house, where I buy some Japanese ingredients is owned by Koreans. I bought a cookbook from them, and these pancakes look very tasty, but I have not tried a recipe yet.

    How would you say that Korean recipes are used by Japanese home cooks?

    • nodako said, on October 18, 2009 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Tess, thank you for visiting my blog.
      We like not only Korean food but also Chinese food as you know.
      In fact Japan is the country of food fads. For example 30 years ago italian spaghetti was introduced to Japan and suddenly everybody started to cook it at home. My mother told me how exotic and fashionable spaghetti was at the time, but now it’s just normal.
      I think Chijimi entered japanese home cooking recently. I remember when I was child it wasn’t a part of our home cooking.

  2. Jongtae Lee said, on October 19, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Hi Nodaco,
    A Japanese described the recipe of Korean vegetable pancakes, it surprised me.
    Your note was correct, most Korean enjoy the pancake, specially while raining or in cold wather.
    Chijimi might be Japanese word, but Korean often call it “Jjijim(chijim)” and rather common “Buchujeon(Korean leek pancake) or Pajeon(Green onion pancake).
    Furthmore, Kimchijeon(Kimchi pancake) is also a kind of famous Korean pancake.

    Thank you for your well-illustrated recipe.
    I want to copy this page if you like, Thanks again.

    • caracaschronicles said, on October 19, 2009 at 8:51 am

      So is the recipe in Korea exactly the same? And also, we were wondering, how spicy is the sauce, usually?

      We usually make the sauce with only a little bit of chilli peppers, so it’s not so hot. But Korean food has a reputation for being really hot, so should we add more?

      Only curious,
      ft
      (Nodako’s husband)

      • Jongtae Lee said, on October 24, 2009 at 1:03 pm

        We often add sliced hot pepper in the pancake.
        Probably, that the sauce is spicy, is likely to be due to the Korean soya sauce. It is made through fermenting process of boiled soybean and then further fermenting in salty water.
        The Korean soya sauce is really different to western soya sauce from the spice point of view.

        Good luck

    • nodako said, on October 19, 2009 at 9:10 am

      Hi Jongtae Lee
      As I wrote already to Tess, Korean food is quite popular in Japan today. I’m also one of a big fan of Korean cooking. Kimchijeon(Kimchi pancake) sounds delicious, so I will try it!

  3. Sheng said, on November 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    So, I was wondering, can you cook this without the egg, and substitute it with something else?

    Just wondering

    • kanako said, on November 24, 2009 at 12:05 am

      I’ve never tried but I saw some chijimi recipes without egg.
      Some of them substitute egg with grated potatoes (one potato for 100g of flour), the others add 1 table spoon of potato starch for 100g of flour.
      You’ll need to add something like “starch” to keep ingredients together. Without it the pancake will fall apart.

  4. watiwaty said, on October 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Hello Nodako-san,

    I’m looking for chijimi recipe and found your blog. This is so helping, especially its cooking illustration. Can’t wait to cook it! Thank you so much, Nodako-san… 😀

    Regards,
    Asna

    • kanako said, on October 14, 2010 at 7:16 am

      Hi Asna,
      thank you for your comment.
      This is one of our favorite pancakes and it’s very easy. Enjoy!

  5. Kim said, on January 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Kanako-san,

    I was recently on a snowboarding venture in Niigata, Japan, and ordered the only food item on the menu friendly to my pescatarian/vegetarian diet. I wasn’t sure what it was or how to eat it (it came with several strips of nori and a bowl of thin broth-like sauce), so I did a Google search and found your blog. Now that I know how easy it is to make, I’m going to have to try it at home. おいしいです!

    ありがとうございます!

    • kanako said, on January 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Hi Kim,
      welcome to Kanako’s Kitchen! I’m very happy that you’re enjoying Japanese food. Japanese food may seem strange at the beginning but once you know how to make it, you’ll find it more familiar. Enjoy!

  6. Joshua Pang said, on October 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    So basically chijimi is about as Japanese as ramen and gyoza.

  7. michelle said, on September 13, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    this is good thank you for the blog i haven’t able to used the wheat flour because i forgot to buy it instead i used all purpose flour but it is still taste good .. next time i’ll used the wheat flour … thank you again…


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