Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sesame Scallion Pancakes

There’s no getting around it, these are a bit fussy to make. So fussy in fact, that I really wouldn’t have posted them if the end result weren’t so delicious. I have seen several different recipes for them and was intrigued not only by the idea of a savory Asian pancake, but by the decidedly odd preparation method. I am quite certain that it would be loads more fun making this with a group of friends, all standing around the kitchen, eating the hot pancakes as they come off the pan.

The ingredients required a trip to the local Asian grocer, in my case United Noodles, to restock some of my favorite pantry items. As I perused the produce, I came across some thick, green Chinese chives which I substituted for the more traditional scallions. I also grabbed some black sesame seeds which I always get because I love their unusual fanciness.

For eight pancakes:

  • 3 cups cake flour

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  • 1 3/4 cups boiling water

  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions or Chinese chives

  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 8 tablespoons peanut oil

In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and the boiling water. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and mix again. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 3-4 minutes, adding more flour if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Set the bowl aside, covered with a towel, and let the dough rest for 30-60 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, pat and roll the dough into a log 2 inches thick. Divide it evenly into 8 pieces.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon of the peanut oil, swirling around the pan to coat.

Take one of the pieces of dough, and with a rolling pin, roll it into a rough 6 inch circle. Brush one side with the sesame oil, roll into a cylinder and then coil it into a tight spiral shape. Flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand and then roll it out again into a 6 inch circle, keeping your work surface slightly floured as you go. Place it in the hot pan and cook, about 2 minutes per side, until browned in spots and crisp. Cut into wedges and serve immediately or keep it warm in the oven until all pancakes are cooked.

As each pancake cooks, repeat the above procedure with the remaining dough, adding a tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan before adding each cake.

I ate the pancake with my favorite bright orange sweet Asian chili sauce but I am sure there are many other sauces that would go just as well. If you aren't planning on eating all the pancakes immediately, you can freeze them, with a square of wax paper between each cake, sealed in a freezer bag.

Adapted from a recipe in Spices of Life by Nina Simonds

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