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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Scallion pancake 香葱油饼

I had one pancake, then another, and another.

Scallion pancake in  its most seductive pose
Is it a spring onion, green onion or a scallion? What about a shallot ? Though  the terms 'scallion' ,'green onion' and 'spring onion'  are used interchangeably, the scallion, green onion and spring onion are called depending on their maturity and pungency, with scallions being the youngest of bulb and spring onions being the more matured. Similarly the pungency increases as the bulb matures.

The only exception is 'shallot', which refers to the brown, tight bulb that has yet to sprout.

Interestingly, the humble spring onion is  a cash crop in Iowa, Philippines  and the Netherlands. When  Typhoon Morakot hit Taiwan and affected the harvest in the spring onion district of Yilan, the price of scallion  pancakes skyrocketed and caused much  despair, both for consumers and farmers.

How can something that smells so bad taste so good?  In its raw form, spring onion is mildly spicy and pungent. When cooked, it becomes slightly sweet and depending on how it is cooked,retains its color and crunch.

For a family that does not even tolerate spring onions or anything close to it as garnish, scallion pancake is a great leap forward.  Honestly, with anything that is fried and crispy, they are more accommodating and even, enthusiastic. And do not even think it is a Chinese scallion roti prata, because this version uses scant amount of oil making it a lighter and healthier version.

Back to the topic proper, allocate about 2 hours for this project. The longest time comes in the waiting ( for the dough to rest) but time can be wisely spent preparing the spring onions and watching Korean dramas. If you are not gifted with a pair of dexterous hands like me, try rolling up the pancake with less scallions or risk them 'oozing' out from the seams. There are many methods for making the pancake, but this one using the boiling water method yields the most pliable and workable dough. Finally, for the choice of onion greens, I used both very young scallions for its vibrant color and spring onion for a little extra kick and texture in the final result.

For ease of description, my combination of scallions and spring onions is simply termed as scallions here.

Makes 10 personal sized ( or 8 medium sized ) scallion pancakes

Ingredients :
200g plain flour
100g boiling water, 100 C
40g tepid water
4 g salt

4 cups scallions, washed, spun dry  and cut to 1 cm pieces
Sesame oil

Scallions, the more the merrier !

Method :

Put flour in a mixing bowl. In a steady stream,  pour boiling water to the flour, stirring vigorously with a pair of chopsticks.

Add salt into tepid water. Combine well.

Given time and elbow grease,the sticky mess becomes this.
Pour salt-tepid water slowly into the batter, constantly stirring water and flour to combine. Depending on the humidity of your area, it may require slightly more or less water.  To know if you are quite there, the dough should clump together and pulled from the sides of the container, dough is damp but does not stick to the finger when poked.

Flour hands and worktop lightly. Knead dough for a few minutes, until it becomes shiny and is no longer sticky.  Resist the urge to  knead in more flour.
Rest dough for 30 minutes. Covered.

On a floured worktop, divide the dough into 10 portions.

Roll out each portion, to the size of your palm.

Dot sesame oil on the dough surface then sprinkle scallions.
OK, I lied.I use lots of scallions because I am greedy,excessive,whatever.But I like it!

Roll the dough tightly to encase the scallions. It now resembles a little rope.
Mini python  just had its fill. Rolled up scallion pancake.

Twirl the rope into a tight circle, resembling a coil of rope or white  python. Rest 30 minutes.
This unsightly twirl conjurs up all sorts of yucky stuff. But it is one more step to a yummy snack.

Heat a non stick frying pan.  Lightly oil surface.

Meanwhile,  flatten the coiled pancake by rolling it with a palm and then a rolling pin. Use a dough scrapper to transfer from worktop to pan if needed.

Pan fry on medium heat until both sides of the pancake is browned.

Serve warm and fresh. Tastes great with a cup of oolong.

Down to the last pancake

1 comment:

  1. This seems delicious! I'll be giving this a try for tomorrow's breakfast! :)