These Korean vegetable fritters are a perfect appetizer. This recipe is so versatile, you can use pretty much any veggies in your fridge!
Some might call it vegetable tempura but that’s so painfully Japanese… I’m gonna call it a fritter. Tempura usually involves frying individual veggies, where as the Korean version cuts the veggies in smaller pieces and fry the mixed veggies together in small lumps. I love this way of frying vegetables because I can taste the sweetness from the onions, juiciness from the zucchini and the slight crunch from the carrots in one bite. This fritter is crunchy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. It stands proudly alone as a great appetizer or a perfect accompaniment to familiar Korean dishes such as Tteok-bokki (Spicy rice cakes).
I don’t remember making this with my mom when I lived in Korea. I do remember making it frequently once we moved to the states. My mom will look for vegetables in the fridge or pantry that has ripened a little too much. No food went “bad” in my mom’s kitchen. My mom would find a potato that was half rotten in the vegetable box (My mom has been using an old shipping box from Groupon as her vegetable box for years now. She keeps onions and potatoes in it and it sits by the fridge next to the garbage can) and cut off the rotten parts, save the rest. Sometimes the “rest” looked a bit questionable but I didn’t dare question my mom. There will be plenty more posts involving my mom. She’s a feisty 5’2″ Korean woman who will fight everyone and everything. I think in future posts, I’ll refer my mom with her nickname “Cici” to soften her image a bit.
Getting back on track.. I recall the vegetable fritters being made with whatever was rotting at that time. Sometimes potatoes or sweet potatoes were involved in making the fritter but not always. I rarely eat potatoes so unfortunately I didn’t have any rotting in my pantry to use for this recipe. I always recall carrots, onions, green onions and zucchini in the fritter though.
What would your fritter look like if it were made with left over veggies from your childhood? Comment below, I’ll share it Cici and let you know how stupid your choice of veggies are because that’s what my mom does. Criticize everything. Typical Korean mom.
Alright, on to the recipe.
For the vegetable fritters, you’ll need:
1/2 medium onion
1/2 red pepper
4 stalks of green onions
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 quart of frying oil (I used canola)
Sometimes my mom would mix in this special Korean “frying flour” with the regular flour to make the fritters more crunchy. Optional though.
Important notes when following the recipe:
The batter should be thin enough where it should drip freely from your spoon. Too thick and it will form a dough around the veggies and lose the crunch factor to the fritter.
The fritter will fall apart in the pot if you drop it in instead of gently placing it in the oil. Your spoon should submerge in oil. If you mess up and it falls apart, oh well, now you have veggie fries. Yay!
One more thing. It is crucial that free floating pieces of batter be removed between each batch or you’ll have burnt pieces of batter sticking to your fritters. Burnt ends are acceptable when smoking a brisket Texas style but not when making vegetable fritters. Plus it’s fun to snack on the crunchy bits while watching the fritters cook.
Yaaaasss, snack on the lil’ crunchies. Go head and do it. I won’t tell.
Check out the recipe below!
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1/2 red pepper
- 4 stalks of green onions
- 1/2 zucchini
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 quart of frying oil (I used canola)
- Matchstick cut the carrots, about 2.5 inches in length
- Cut red pepper, onion and zucchini into quarter inch wide pieces - slightly larger than carrots. Length should be similar to the carrot.
- Cut off the heads of the green onions, discard. Cut in similar length as the rest of the veggies.
- Place all of the vegetables in a bowl, set a side.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk 2 eggs.
- In the same mixing bowl, add flour and slowly pour in water as you continue to whisk. The batter should be thin enough where it should drip freely from your spoon. See video for notes. You can always add more water in the batter so check the thickness of the batter as you whisk.
- Whisk in salt and pepper to the batter.
- Dump all of your veggies in the large mixing bowl with the batter and stir well. Make sure the veggies are evenly coated with the batter.
- Heat about 1/2 quart of oil in a heavy, deep pot. I used a Le Creuset dutch oven. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
- Using a small wooden spoon (or a metal one with a long neck), scoop up a generous spoonful of the veggie mixture and gently place it in the oil. Do not crowd the pot. It will fall apart in the pot if you drop it in instead of gently placing it in the oil. Your spoon should submerge in oil.
- Fry for 4 minutes, flip the fritters and cook for another 3-4 minutes until lightly golden.
- Place the fritters on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat to cook the rest of the veggies. It is crucial that free floating pieces of batter be removed between each batch or you'll have burnt pieces of batter sticking to your fritters.
- Serve immediately with a side of soy sauce.
This recipe is perfect for cleaning out your fridge. You can use almost any type of vegetables that is taking room in your fridge. Just make sure all the vegetables are cut similar in size so it cooks evenly.
You can add a cup of special flour sold at Korean grocery stores specifically made for frying called Twi-gim-ga-ru. This makes the fritters extra crispy. You won't find this at your local grocery store unfortunately but that's okay. It's still super delicious!
Reheating is not recommended. You'll be left with a soggy mush, yuck. Just eat it right after making it. It won't be hard, trust me.
Pyrex Smart Essentials 4-Quart Glass Mixing Bowl
LiveFresh Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Mini Tea Strainer with Non Slip Handle - 3 inch - Ideal Size for Straining Teas and Cocktails or Sifting Flour, Sugar, Spices, and Herbs
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 7-1/4-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Cerise (Cherry Red)
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
One last thing, reheating is not recommended. You’ll be left with a soggy mush. Yuck. Just eat it right after making it. It won’t be hard, trust me.