A Year to Learn Korean Cooking: Gamjajeon

Today let’s learn about cooking gamjajeon 감자전. Let’s explore the delectable flavors and traditions behind this savory and crispy potato pancake. This dish will leave your taste buds longing for more.

About the South of Seoul ‘A Year to Learn Korean Cooking’ Series

If you are familiar with the series, skip ahead to learn more about gamjajeon 감자전. 

Many of us live in South Korea for only a year. Time flies past faster than we can imagine. At South of Seoul, we decided to create a simple series that will offer 2-4 dishes to learn each month so that when you leave South Korea you have a slew of new dishes you feel comfortable making anywhere.

This series is a collaboration with Kimchi Rednecks. In 2020, they created the first blog in this series Online Resources for Learning to Cook Korean Food. These two love to have adventures in the kitchen and share the results with their community. Be sure to follow KimchiRednecks on YouTube for other great videos about living life in South Korea.

Support Local Businesses and Local Ads


About Gamjajeon 감자전

Gamjajeon, a traditional Korean dish, is a savory pancake ( jeon 전) made primarily from grated or finely chopped potatoes. The name “gamjajeon” is derived from “gamja” (감자), which means potato, and “jeon” (전), which refers to a type of Korean pancake. This is a very popular snack in Korea, whether as a side dish (banchan 반찬) or drinking snack (anju 안주). Therefore, this culinary delight is celebrated for its simplicity, yet its taste and cultural significance make it a beloved dish in Korean cuisine.

History and Tradition of Gamjajeon

Gamjajeon goes beyond being just a dish; it’s a cultural icon that reflects the essence of Korean community and resourcefulness. Historically, potatoes were a staple crop that could be grown in various regions and climates, making them a reliable food source during times of scarcity. Gamjajeon showcases the creativity of Korean cooks in utilizing available ingredients to create a satisfying and delicious meal.

Additionally, gamjajeon is often enjoyed during festive occasions, family gatherings, and holidays. The act of cooking and sharing gamjajeon fosters a sense of togetherness and connection, highlighting the social aspects of Korean cuisine.

Ingredients and Preparation of Gamjajeon

The main ingredient of gamjajeon is potatoes, typically a starchy variety. Grated or finely chopped potatoes are mixed with ingredients like flour, egg, scallions, onions, and various seasonings. Some variations of gamjajeon might also incorporate ingredients like carrots, zucchini, or even seafood.

To prepare gamjajeon, spoon the mixture onto a hot pan with oil and flatten them to create a pancake-like shape. Then, pan-fry until both sides are golden brown and crispy. The result is a delightful blend of textures – a crispy exterior with a soft and flavorful interior.

Serving and Accompaniments

Traditionally, Koreans serve gamjajeon as a main dish or as part of a larger spread in Korean meals. It’s commonly accompanied by dipping sauces like soy sauce mixed with vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, enhancing the flavors of the pancake.

In essence, gamjajeon captures the heart of Korean cuisine – a blend of taste, history, and community. Its humble ingredients and versatile nature make it a cherished dish that continues to bring people together, celebrating both the flavors of the past and the bonds of the present.


While the classic gamjajeon features a simple potato base, there are several creative variations to explore. Seafood gamjajeon might include ingredients like shrimp, squid, or clams. Kimchi gamjajeon incorporates the spicy and tangy flavors of kimchi, adding a unique twist. Therefore, each variation offers a different taste experience, showcasing the versatility of this dish. In addition, feel free to add vegetables and create your own perfect gamjajeon.

Our First Experience With Gamjajeon

We cannot recall our first experience having gamjajeon. However, we both are familiar with potato pancakes from other cultures. We decided that fried potatoes not matter the culture are just delicious. Therefore, we opted to make gamjajeon in the traditional method that just uses potatoes, oil and salt. We chose to add onion to help with the oxidation of the potatoes.

Our video showcases our first attempt at making gamjajeon at home. We love crispy pancakes which means that you will want to squeeze as much water from your potatoes as possible. Since we decided to do the traditional method, you reserve the liquid from grating your potatoes and let it sit. After abut ten minutes, the potato starch will drop to the bottom of the bowl and can be used to help keep your jeon together.

Although, it feels like a little bit of working getting the starch from the grated potatoes, the end result is a delicious, crispy and flavorful potato pancake. Therefore, we find it to be worth the extra time and preparation!

Hurdles in Cooking Gamjajeon

Making gamjajeon, while not overly complex, can present a few challenges to achieve the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and presentation. Here are some potential hurdles you might encounter when making gamjajeon:

  1. Texture Balance: Achieving the right balance of crispiness on the outside and softness on the inside can be tricky. Cooking the pancake for a shorter amount of time may result in a very mushy pancake. However, cooking for too long, it could result in an overly dry or burnt pancake.
  2. Oil Control: Getting the right amount of oil in the pan is crucial. Too little oil can lead to sticking and uneven cooking, while too much oil can make the pancake greasy and heavy.
  3. Grating and Squeezing Potatoes: Grating the potatoes can be time-consuming. However, excess moisture from the grated potatoes must be squeezed out to prevent a soggy pancake.
  4. Flavor Balance: Ensuring the pancake is well-seasoned is important. Overseasoning or underseasoning can affect the overall taste. Getting the right balance of salt, pepper, and any additional ingredients like scallions or onions is key.
  5. Consistency of Potato Mixture: Ensuring an even mixture of grated potatoes, flour, and other ingredients is important for consistent cooking. If the mixture isn’t well-blended, you might end up with unevenly cooked pancakes.
  6. Cooking Temperature: Finding the right cooking temperature is essential to achieve the desired level of crispiness without burning the pancake.
  7. Choosing the Right Potatoes: Different potato varieties have varying levels of starch content. Choosing the right type of potato can affect the texture and consistency of the pancake.
  8. Presentation: While taste is paramount, presentation matters too. Making sure the pancake looks visually appealing can be a challenge, especially if you’re aiming for a uniform shape and golden-brown color.

Despite these challenges, making gamjajeon can be a rewarding culinary experience. Practice, attention to detail, and a willingness to learn from any mistakes will help you overcome these hurdles and create a delicious and satisfying dish.

Three Gamjajeon Videos to Watch

Are you ready to tackle the challenge of making gamjajeon at home? Here are three videos to inspire you to make your own! We like to include three perspectives on any dish that we present 1) a Korean chef making the dish in Korea, 2) a Korean chef making the dish in a foreign country (provides options for substitutions), and 3) foreign residents making the dish while living in South Korea. These three perspectives provide a broader look at cooking the dish so that you can understand how to adopt it into your lifestyle.

Korean Making Gamjajeon

Korean American Making Gamjajeon

Americans in Korea Making Gamjajeon

Let Us Know How It Turned Out

When you make gamjajeon at home, be sure to leave a comment on this blog or our video. We would love to hear how your dish turned out. We love to hear about your adventures and experiences cooking these dishes at home!

Follow KimchiRednecks

If you are looking for other dishes (Korean or otherwise) or reviews of local restaurants, be sure to check out the KimchiRednecks channel. We also share a little behind the scenes in or our social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram.

Join Pyeongtaek Food & Fun

If you live in the Pyeongtaek area, share your Korean cooking experiences with us in the Pyeongtaek Food & Fun Facebook group. 

Try More Recipies in Our Year to Learn Korean Cooking Series

We have many more Korean recipes that will make your life in Korea more delicious.