Ari's Top 5

A New Brunch Dish at Miss Kim

Stop by to try Ji Hye’s new Jeon on Saturday or Sunday morning

One of the most rewarding adventures of the last few months here in the ZCoB has been Miss Kim’s rollout of our new weekend brunch. I asked Ji Hye to share a highlight. She sent me back the story of a 17th century tradition of a savory Korean pancake brought back to the brunch table here in 2021:

It has been a couple of months since Miss Kim started doing brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. I’ve been using those times to let loose and have some fun. Some items make it on the brunch menu because they may be too hard to execute during a busier dinner rush. One of those dishes is Jeon. You have to prep all the ingredients and take efforts to make one piece at a time, perfectly temperature controlled so it is crispy. Making each one and flipping them is very labor intensive.

Jeon 전 is a sort of catch all phrase for “battered” or “dusted,” then pan-fried stuff. Sometimes it is translated as a “pancake” and sometimes as a “fritter,” and both can be right depending on what kind of Jeon you’re making. The first mention of Jeon is in 1609 in a book that documented the Ming Chinese dignitaries’ visit called 영접도감의궤 (sort of roughly translated to “Documentation of Reception”).

Jeon has always stayed on the back of my mind as it is one of my favorite things. My mother would be bent over the stove, working away on holidays, and I would be hovering and stealing pieces as soon as they came off the pan (that’s when it’s the best tasting). Often, she yelled at me for stealing the holiday food before anyone else and dwindling her stock, but sometimes she would take a piece with her fingers and feed it to me. So many fond memories of holidays and family!

To make the Jeon I start with lots of chives and garlic chives from one of my favorite farmers, Tu of Xiong’s Fresh Asian Produce. If I’m lucky, I can even get a bouquet of chive flowers from him and use them as garnish. I make the batter light and sparse, so the chives are just held together, and the edges of the pancake get crispy. Since it is for brunch, I make a nest of chive Jeon and drop a sunny side egg in the middle, to be served with vinegared soy dipping sauce on the side. It is rich with runny egg yolk, but also fragrant and green with so much chives. It is delicious, and at least for the time being, is only available during brunch.

Stephen Satterfield, the nationally-recognized writer and founder of the incredible Whetstone magazine, and now the compelling co-host of the Netflix documentary “High on the Hog” says, “To dine at Miss Kim is to taste [Ji Hye’s] taste memory, her learned and earnest love of recrafting the food from which she is constituted, adapted for the place in which she stands.” Ji Hye’s food, he goes on to say, is “hyper-local, very seasonal, and as much an approach to life as it is a bowl of food.” All of which comes together in the form of this delicious 17th century, savory Korean pancake that you and I can enjoy simply by driving, walking, or biking over to Kerrytown!

Preorder Miss Kim Brunch (with Jeon!)