Working my way back to you babe – Scallion Pancakes for the (Chinese) new year…

Happy New Year!

It’s 2012! How did that happen?

This post is a total cop out. Two months I’ve been gone. TWO MONTHS! And all I have for you is this dumb recipe. Just kidding, it’s delicious. It’s not dumb at all. There’s just not much to it. There are approximately four ingredients and one of them is water. But somehow, in spite of its simplicity, it is a delight.

Scallion pancakes are one of my most favorite Chinese take out treats. They are crispy and delicious and taste like scallions and you get to dip them in soy sauce. Please tell me one thing that is bad about that?

And, bonus, they are very easy to make.

start with the flour

Flour in a bowl. Add a little salt.

Flour and water

Add boiling water to the mix and stir it (not with your hands, because it’s hot.)

When the dough starts looking shaggy, take it out of the bowl and clump it together on the counter. You won’t need much flour on the counter, as this is a pretty dry dough, but have a little there to be safe.

shaggy

Clump the dough into a ball and start kneading. It will take anywhere from five to ten minutes of kneading to get the dough where you want it.

after one minute

after four minutes

after nine minutes

You should knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Then cover the dough with a damp towel and let it sit for 30 minutes while you do something else. Slice the green parts of some scallions, perhaps. Or make a dipping sauce (soy sauce, chopped scallions, a couple drops of sesame oil, and a splash of rice wine or rice vinegar.) Or watch a sitcom. Or something else you like to do. I don’t know, I don’t know your life.

After the dough has rested for 30 minutes it will be even smoother and stretchier, if you can believe it. Cut the dough into eight pieces (I find cutting it in slivers like a pie is the easiest.) Then the fun part begins. Roll each piece of dough into a circle. They are not going to be very big, please see the photo below for a gauge. That is my creepy hand next to the dough.

about the size of my hand...which is a helpful measure for the rest of you...

It’s a wonder I haven’t made it as a hand model.

Then brush the round with sesame oil and sprinkle with chopped scallions.

brushed and sprinkled

But you’re not done yet. Now you roll it into a cylinder, like you were rolling a…umm…rug, or something.

a scallion pancake taquito

Then role THAT cylinder into a pinwheel thing. Like so…

scallion pancake snail...now with more creepy hand

And NOW, and now, stick with me one more minute, roll the snail into another scallion filled pancake…

aaaaand, we're done!

And now all that’s left is frying them up. You don’t need much oil for these, and you don’t need much time either. They fry up in minutes. These are not huge, the ones I’ve gotten from Chinese restaurants are bigger. If that is what you’d prefer, I suspect you could just divide the dough into four or six pieces and roll them out bigger. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot, drop one of the pancakes in the pan, and watch it carefully, it will be ready to flip in a minute or two.

fried

I have found the pancakes will sometimes puff up in the  middle a little and the edges will get crispy while the center does not. I found pressing gently on the center of the pancake when it first goes into the oil helps that.

Once you flip it, the second side cooks even faster than the first. When it is browned to your likeness, take the pancake out of the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt, cut in quarters and serve with dipping sauce. Delectable Chinese take out with out the take out!

scallion pancakes at home

I think I would like to get this out before another New Year passes – and incidentally, it just so happens that the celebrations for the Chinese New Year are beginning (I believe the actual date is January 23rd) so make these and raise a glass to the Year of the Dragon – so I will wrap this up. But (and I know I say this a lot) I have so many things to discuss with you. This month’s project is noodles. Udon, ramen, and egg yolk filled ravioli, which I have been working on forever and can’t manage to perfect. But I am getting closer. And I want to share it with you. And I want to do some new things for “Meatless Mondays” and I want to talk about soup. And so many things. And I miss this little spot. So I will be back. Stick around.

Scallion Pancakes (makes 8 four inch pancakes)

Adapted from Delicious Days.

1 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for rolling out the pancakes

Pinch of Salt

1/2 cup water

1 bunch of scallions, green parts only, sliced into thin rounds

2 tbls sesame oil

canola or other neutral oil for frying

Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Boil the water and add to the flour slowly. Stir the dough until it is shaggy and cool enough to touch. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable, anywhere from five to ten minutes. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, cut into 8 equal pieces. One at a time, roll the dough pieces into thin rounds, approximately four inches across. Brush sesame oil onto the dough with a pastry brush, and sprinkle on a couple pinches of the scallions. Roll the dough round up like a cigar, and then roll the cigar into a pinwheel shape as shown above. Press the edge lightly to seal the round, and then roll again into a think 4 inch pancake. Set aside, and repeat with the remaining dough. As you complete the pancakes, pile them up with aluminum foil or parchment paper in between them.

Heat just enough oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan over medium heat until hot. Fry the pancakes one or two at a time in the oil until the bottom is brown and crispy, 1-2 minutes, and then flip, doing the same to the second side. Remove the pancakes to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt, cut each pancake into quarters, and serve with a dipping sauce.

Enjoy!

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