Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Food Post! Homemade Scallion Pancakes

One of my favorite things to do in the summer, as soon as the (extra large) scallions start pouring in from our CSA, is make Ming Tsai's scallion pancake recipe. If you have not ordered scallion pancakes as an appetizer at your local Chinese restaurant, you have been missing out! I will attempt to re-create the recipe here for anyone who wants to follow along at home. The process is simple but (if you do it the way I always do) makes an ungodly mess, so you should budget about forty-five minutes to make the pancakes and dipping sauce and fifteen minutes to figure out how far the flour was flung during the rolling out process. 

Pancake ingredients:
2 c flour + incidental flour
1 c boiling water
1/2 c scallions, sliced
1/4 c canola oil
2 tsp sesame oil
The intelligence not to make this recipe when it's freakishly hot

A half hour in advance, make the dough by combining 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of boiling water. The recipe calls for doing this by slowly add water to flour in a steady stream while mixing with a wooden spoon, adding water until a ball is formed. However, I always use the food processor, which is faster and requires less stirring action, saving arm strength for the squishing and rolling parts of the recipe.

Last night, I made a double recipe:

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it "relax" for thirty minutes.

While it is resting, commence the chopping of many scallions!


You'll need a half cup for the pancakes and a quarter cup for the sauce, although you can over-estimate a little. Two of those little bundles of scallions at the grocery store should be more than enough, unless they are particularly scrawny. I tend to cut the sauce scallions in rounds (for aesthetic purposes) and the pancake scallions in half or quarters before chopping them, because you don't want the thinness of your pancake to be restricted by the height of your scallions. 

>>>Sauce interlude<<<
While you are waiting is as good a time as any to make the dipping sauce, which consists of combining:

1/4 c tamari
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c sliced scallions
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar

And setting it aside to collect itself. The sauce is awesome and, we find, generally better than the dipping sauce in our local Chinese restaurants. It also tastes good with Trader Joe's frozen potstickers.

>>>End sauce interlude<<<

After the dough is done with its nap, roll it out on a floured surface into a thin rectangle. Or whatever shape will fit on your floured surface.
 

Brush on some of the oil mixture (1/4 c canola and 2 tsp sesame) with a pastry brush, cover with scallions, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper:

Roll up the dough and cut it into four equal pieces:


At this point, the recipe says: "Take one piece and twist three times. Roll and flatten to achieve a 5 to 6 inch pancake." This is never as smooth as one would hope, and involves the application of additional flour to the surface and the rolling pin and the loss of some scallions, and it's not as if the pancakes (or at least my pancakes) come out looking symmetrical or particularly attractive



So my supplemental direction would be to twist and mold into a ball, then roll out to a fairly thin pancake, as thin as you can make it without having it fall apart. Even though it might be tempting, don't use too much flour, or the cooking surface in the pan will get all gooey. Coat the top of the pancake with the oil mixture and flip it into a hot (medium heat) non-stick pan. Sear one side, then coat the exposed side with oil and flip. When that side is done, you have yourself a delicious pancake:


Cut the finished product into wedges and serve with the dipping sauce (we serve it in individual small bowls, to reduce vicious table fighting). Serve immediately to the ravening hordes, although you can keep them warm in the oven while you finish making the pancakes. In our house, one recipe serves 2+.  I would have taken pictures of the final presentation, but hunger took over and the photographees disappeared in record time. Although I was told that they were the "best ever."

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