Monday, May 25, 2009

Scallion Pancakes

Alright, so I am going to make an effort to post more recipes directly on here. I was too lazy before, but I figure I might as well. It's good for my own record-keeping purposes, too.

So! We'll start off easy. Scallion pancakes are a Chinese flatbread, very similar to its Indian cousin, parathas. I've always liked them because of their chewy layers -- the consistency makes them more interesting than other breads.

First, mixing the flour and water into a dough. If you want to know something interesting -- a LOT of Chinese doughs start out this way: a simple mixture of flour and hot water. Dumplings, wontons, potstickers, you name it -- what usually changes is the type of flour you use.

After kneading (it's kind of relaxing to knead hot dough, if you ask me), you have to let the dough rest for a little bit.

Cutting the scallions in the meantime.

So you split that dough ball into 6 smaller pieces. Roll each one out into a thin circle. Brush the circle with a layer of vegetable oil. Now, those of you who have done pastry before will recognize this is sort of a short-cut version of doing a buerre block folded into a détrempe. The oil, rolled and flattened and separating the dough, is what makes the peel-away layers that are characteristic of these pancakes.

Add salt, and scatter some scallions on. Then, roll up the dough circle.

Take the roll and wrap it into a tight coil.

Okay, this might get dicey since oil and onion pieces might squirt out at you -- but work with a firm and gentle hand and roll out the coil into a pancake again.

Pan fry them on a griddle. Don't literally fry them -- all you need is enough oil to keep the pancake from sticking. Some folks like these oilier -- I have to confess I am not one of them. They taste good either way, so don't feel obligated to oil them up.

Slice and serve!

See below for the recipe. They're easy! Hope you give it a shot.

Scallion Pancakes

Recipe adapted from those of Jennifer Yu and Dorie Greenspan

1 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 cup boiling water
3 teaspoons salt (approx.)
6 teaspoons vegetable oil (approx.), plus more for pan-frying
1 bunch scallions, minced

Stir the flours in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the boiling water, and stir until a rough dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth, kneading in more all-purpose flour as necessary. Cover with a cloth or wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes, or longer if possible.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a rough log. Cut the log into 6 pieces. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp towel as you work.

With a rolling pin, roll out one piece of dough into a circle. Brush the top with a little oil and sprinkle with some of the minced scallion greens and salt. Roll up the circle like a jelly roll and pinch the ends to seal. Coil the roll into a snail shape, with the seam on the inside. Pinch the end to secure it and set aside on a lightly floured surface.

Prepare the remaining pancakes. Reflour the work surface and roll each coiled pancake out to 1/8 inch thickness.

Heat a tablespoon of oil on a flat, wide pan over a medium-low to medium flame until hot. Set the pancake in the oil and let fry until the bottom is crisp and golden. Flip the pancake, adding more oil as needed. Remove from heat, slice, and serve immediately, or reheat in the oven.

Yield: 6 pancakes (12 servings)
Prep Time: 45 minutes, including the 30 minute rest
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

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