Kimchi and millet pancakes

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Looking for a brunch dish with a difference? This kimchi and millet pancake recipe combines the funky, umami-rich and sour flavours of Korean kimchi with millet, a gluten-free grain that's beloved for its bouncy texture. Be sure to check the ingredients list of your kimchi to see whether it contains fish sauce if serving to vegetarians.

First published in 2019

Millet? Millet! An ancient and very delicious grain that is overlooked in our wheat-dominated culinary society. It is a small seeded grass, common in many parts of the world, most notably India and parts of Africa.

It is easy enough to source in health food shops and online. Most commonly here you will find it as pearl millet or flour, and it makes an excellent substitute when baking bread. Millet is a superb ingredient for those on gluten-free diets (or just generally) and is a rich source of protein, dietary fibre, several B vitamins and numerous dietary minerals.

There is much you can do with it. Millet is eaten as porridge in Russia, is commonly used in bread-making (and is used to make roti in parts of India) and is used to make awaokoshi (candied millet puffs) in Osaka, Japan. Millet is a staple in parts of Africa and is used to make hausa koko, a soured and spicy smooth porridge in West Africa.

Millet is a small, tense cereal, in that I mean it tastes like it has a little bounce. It cooks very quickly and is not strongly flavoured and so it pairs well with big flavours like kimchi, and it makes a great cheesy pancake too. Go for broke and make a Korean 'kimcheese' millet pancake by adding fifty grams of grated cheese to the recipe below! It makes a great substitute for recipes that require couscous or bulgar wheat too.

Pearl millet is superb in these pancakes. The outside gets nice and crunchy and the inside is tender and rich with kimchi. In terms of starch, I love to use potato starch (easily found in Asian food shops). Potato starch has a stretch to it and gives a nice chew. Cornflour will work well too, but you will miss that stretch.

The only thing to watch out for is if you have thyroid problems. Millet is goitrogenic and can be a problem here.





Boil the millet in 500ml salted water until tender (about 10 minutes). The water will boil off in the process, so top it up with water from the kettle if it becomes too dry. The aim is to have just millet and no water in the pan when done, but it can always be drained once tender too
Add the remaining ingredients (except the oil and sea salt) and mix well. Fry a small portion in a little oil and adjust seasoning to taste if you need to
To fry the pancakes, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Let the oil heat up then start adding your batter. I use about 2 large spoonfuls per pancake and shape it gently. They will naturally form an oblong shape and hold together
After a few minutes they should be nice and brown on the bottom (you can gently take a peek using a fish slice or spatula). At this point, turn them and continue cooking. They should take roughly 3 minutes on each side. Serve hot with a scattering of coriander
First published in 2019

Niamh Shields is a scientist turned food writer. Based in London and originally from Ireland, Niamh travels the world for much of the year exploring food and flavours, and develops recipes in her London kitchen to share on her award winning blog

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