Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, potato pancakes appear in many cuisines around the world. I've never met a potato pancake I didn't like, but some of my favorites are Korean gamjajeon, which are frequently made into mini sizes perfect for dipping into vinegared soy sauce and served as a savory appetizer, side dish, or snack. When I wound up with a bunch of potatoes and spring alliums and herbs, it's the first dish I thought of making.
Besides potatoes, gamjajeon can be made with just about any shredded or finely chopped fillings, such as scallions, zucchini, peppers, and carrots. Young, green garlic is all over my farmers' market right now, so that's how this version came about. I also used spring chives and pressed a parsley leaf into the top for added flair.
Due to the delicate seasonings, the small size, and a modest use of frying oil, these won't weigh you down like a lot of potato pancakes might. Choganjang, a simple condiment made with soy sauce and rice vinegar, makes an excellent dipping sauce, the sour-saltiness contrasting with the starch of the potatoes. I also tried the pancakes with a dot of crème fraîche, which is not very Korean but positively delicious. Sour cream or thick yogurt would be good, too.
Mini Potato Pancakes with Green Garlic and Chives
Makes 24 (2-inch) pancakes
1 1/2 pounds potatoes 3 tablespoons chopped green garlic (white and light green parts only) 2 tablespoons chopped chives 1/2 teaspoon salt Vegetable oil for frying 24 flat-leaf parsley leaves Dipping sauce to serve (recipe below)
Peel and finely grate the potatoes with a Microplane or the small holes of box grater. Place the potatoes in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and press with the back of a spoon to drain as much liquid as possible. (Alternatively, you can wrap the grated potatoes in a tea towel or fine cheesecloth and wring out all the water into a bowl.)
After a minute or two, the starch will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Carefully pour away the liquid and mix the starch with the grated potatoes, green garlic, chives, and salt.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Drop a tablespoon of the potato mixture into the pan, using the back of a spoon to flatten and shape it into a 1/4-inch-thick pancake. Gently press a parsley leaf into the top. Cook until the bottom turns crisp, then flip over with a spatula and continue cooking until crisp.
Repeat process with the rest of the mixture and add more vegetable oil to the pan as needed.
Serve warm or at room temperature with dipping sauce.