Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dim Sum and Then Some: Scallion Pancakes

Although it is not something I regularly see on dim sum carts, or even on many Chinese take out menus (SHAME!!), scallion pancakes are the bee's knees. They are crispy, chewy, pan-fried scallion deliciousness. It's so easy to fall in love. I recently shared a really fun meal at Joe's Shanghai in NYC's Chinatown with a friend from out of town who tried scallion pancakes for the first time. She has ever since been seeking scallion pancakes at Chinese restaurants in her area without any luck.

Well I have good news for her and for you! They are super easy to make and I have a great recipe for you right here! It's from another of my favorite Asian cookbooks, Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch by Ellen Leong Blonder. Unlike Asian Dumplings which is dumpling-centric but covers a wide range of Asian cuisines, Dim Sum focuses solely on Chinese dim sum staples, and includes not only a variety of Chinese dumplings, but also other dim sum favorites, such as steamed spareribs, deep-fried crab claws, salt-fried prawns, and lots of fried and pan-fried vegetables. There are a few similar dumpling recipes to Nguyen's book, but there is plenty of variety to warrant owning both books, as I do. Also, instead of photographs, Blonder features beautiful watercolor illustrations of her dim sum creations. It's a lovely and intimate look into dim sum culture, and also discusses tea service as part of the meal (and you all know how I feel about tea!).

Don't forget to check out my previous post to see the amazing pan-fried vegetable dumplings that accompanied these scallion pancakes! Also tune in later this week for some flaky char siu pastries!

*Update 1/18/15* Added new scallion pancake photos!

Scallion Pancakes
Makes 6, each cut into 4 or 6 wedges
(Adapted from Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the board
1/2 cup boiling water
2 T. cold water
4 to 6 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 T. toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt
2 to 4 T. peanut, canola, or vegetable oil

Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well. Stir in the boiling water until well blended, then add the cold water and mix. Bring the dough together and knead on a lightly floured surface for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is firm and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, dust with flour, and wrap in plastic wrap or place in a zip-top bag and seal, pressing out excess air. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels and set it aside.

Divide the scallions into 6 equal portions. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough into a 7 1/2-inch circle. Spread 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil on the dough within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt and one portion of the scallions, then lightly press the salt and scallions into the dough.

Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter, even though the dough is round and not a square) and pinch the ends closed. Roll up the dough loosely from one short end, like a jelly roll, and pinch the edge closed. Turn the coil round side up, dust a little flour on it, flatten it slightly with your fingers and roll it into a 5-inch circle (this can be a little messy, squeezing scallions out of the sides). Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients.

Heat a small or medium skillet (just larger than diameter of the scallion pancakes) over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon oil. When it is almost smoking, place one pancake in the skillet and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once, until golden brown. Add another teaspoon of oil to the skillet when you turn the pancake. Lift an edge occasionally to check for over-browning and adjust the heat if necessary.

Transfer the pancake to the baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven while cooking the remaining pancakes, adding more oil to the pan for each pancake. Cut each pancake into 4 to 6 wedges and serve hot.


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