The Korean Vegan is one of the most talked-about cookbooks right now and the author, Joanne Lee Molinaro, is a leading influencer on TikTok and has 3.5 million followers on all of her social channels combined. Her fans love the way she shows you how to make her favorite Korean dishes she loved growing up, all completely vegan. Molinaro shared her Perilla Leaf Pancakes recipe with The Beet readers so you can enjoy an authentic meal and share a little piece of Molainaro's childhood.

Although at first glance this recipe may seem complex, it's actually easy to make and the instructions are simple to follow. You'll notice that most of the ingredients are pantry staples so you may save yourself a trip to the grocery store, however, you'll find perilla leaves at specialty Asian supermarkets or you can order them online.

Note from the author Joanne Lee Molinaro: When I announced to my family that I was going vegan, my mother was especially worried. She wondered whether I would get enough protein (surprise!) if this was a symptom of my never-ending quest to be “skinny (she was onto something there . . .), and how I could possibly keep up with my running eating nothing but vegetables. But mostly, she was panicked about what the heck she would cook for me when I came over. She soon discovered how easy it was to make buchimgae, or pancakes typically made with seafood, without the shrimp or oysters. Simply add water to the flour mix and a bunch of vegetables for a quick batter. Omma makes a huge batch whenever we come over and saves some in the freezer for unannounced visits. I now do the same for myself, you know, for those unannounced cravings that occur around 10:17 p.m.

Perilla Leaf Pancakes

Makes 12-16 medium pancakes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (see Note)
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ Korean squash or regular zucchini, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 4 to 5 perilla leaves, julienned
  • 1½ cups ice-cold water
  • 12 to 16 small perilla leaves, whole
  • 4 to 5 scallions, julienned
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Spicy Soy Sauce Dressing for serving


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, potato starch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, squash, carrot, and julienned perilla leaves. Do not add the whole perilla leaves or scallions.
  2. Add the cold water to the bowl and stir. You should have a fairly thick and rough batter, but if it’s too thick to work with, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time until you arrive at a consistency that’s thicker than regular pancake batter but not as thick as biscuit batter.
  3. In a nonstick skillet, heat enough oil to coat the pan over medium-high heat. Before pouring in any batter, throw a few scallions onto the pan, as well as one whole perilla leaf. Then pour 1 ladle (about ¼ cup) of batter over the top of the scallions and perilla leaf, so that they are completely covered.
  4. Cook for about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until both sides are evenly browned, an additional 2 minutes. Repeat to make more pancakes.
  5. Serve with spicy soy dressing.

NOTES: Gluten-free flours work very well with this recipe; however, because of the additional moisture in the batter often caused by gluten-free flours, fry the pancakes at a lower temperature so they have more time to “dry out” without burning.

Nutritionals (Per Pancake When Making 12 Pancakes)

Calories 100 | Total Fat 0.2g | Saturated Fat 0.2g | Sodium 200mg | Total Carbohydrates 21.5g | Dietary Fiber 1.1g | Total Sugars 0.8g | Protein 2.5g | Calcium 13mg | Iron 1mg | Potassium 86mg |

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