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Kkenip Buchimgae
(깻잎 부침개 • Perilla Leaf and Scallion Pancakes)  
Makes 12-16 Medium Pancakes 

When I announced to my family that I was going vegan, my mother was especially worried. She wondered whether I would get enough protein (surprise!), if this was a symptom of my never-ending quest to be “skinny” (she was onto something there . . .), and how I could possibly keep up with my running eating nothing but vegetables. But mostly, she was panicked about what the heck she would cook for me when I came over.  

She soon discovered how easy it was to make buchimgae or pancakes typically made with seafood, without the shrimp or oysters. Simply add water to the flour mix and a bunch of vegetables for quick batter. Omma makes a huge batch whenever we come over and saves some in the freezer for unannounced visits. I now do the same for myself, you know, for those unannounced cravings that occur around 10:17 p.m.  


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (see note) 
  • 1⁄2 cup potato starch 
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon garlic powder 
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1⁄2 Korean squash or regular zucchini, julienned 
  • 1 carrot, julienned 
  • 4 to 5 perilla leaves, julienned 
  • 11⁄2 cups ice cold water 
  • 12 to 16 small perilla leaves, whole 
  • 4 to 5 scallions, julienned 
  • Vegetable oil, for frying 
  • Spicy Soy Sauce Dressing for serving (recipe below) 


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, potato starch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, squash, carrot, and julienned perilla leaves. Do not add the whole perilla leaves or scallions.
  2. Add the cold water to the bowl and stir. You should have a fairly thick and rough batter, but if it’s too thick to work with, add more of ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you arrive at a consistency that’s thicker than regular pancake batter but not as thick as biscuit batter.
  3. In a nonstick skillet, heat enough oil to coat the pan over medium-high heat. Before pouring in any batter, throw a few scallions onto the pan, as well as one whole perilla leaf. Then pour 1 ladle (about 1⁄4 cup) of batter over the top of the scallions and perilla leaf, so that they are completely covered.
  4. Cook for about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until both sides are evenly browned, an additional 2 minutes. Repeat to make more pancakes.
  5. Serve with the spicy dressing.  

*Gluten-free flours work very well with this recipe; however, because of the additional moisture in the batter often caused by gluten-free flours, fry the pancakes at a lower temperature so they have more time to “dry out” without burning.   

Spicy Soy Sauce Dressing

There is nothing more satisfying than coming home after a long day of work and whipping up a dish that looks and tastes like you’ve been slaving away in your kitchen all afternoon. This insanely flavorful dressing is the magic potion that makes it possible. It only takes 15 minutes to put together, and it lasts in the refrigerator for weeks. Not only can you use this dressing as a dipping sauce for your favorite savory dishes, you can pour a little bit over beans, vegetables, or even a bowl of rice, or use it to braise tofu. You’ll have yourself something that looks and tastes fancy, but could not be simpler.  


  • 1 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru   
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 scallions, chopped 
  • 1⁄4 cup finely diced red onion 
  • 1 shishito pepper or jalapeño, sliced 
  • 1 Fresno pepper, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or maple syrup 
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon mirin 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric  


  1. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, gochugaru, garlic, scallions, red onion, shishito pepper, Fresno pepper, brown rice syrup, rice vinegar, mirin, black pepper, and turmeric together.
  2. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
  3. Shake well before serving.  

TikTok sensation Joanne Lee Molinaro, aka the Korean Vegan, modernizes traditional Korean recipes for a plant-based palate, while simultaneously sharing her family’s personal history, in her first book. Photo courtesy of Avery.

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