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May 14, 2009
When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes say, "Do as I say, not as I do." And even as a kid, the line, which came to feel like an adage, didn't seem right to me. In fact, I thought it branded my wonderful mother as a hypocrite and, in a mental note to self, I instructed myself to never say that. That I ended up saying it last night, and that I directed the line to myself, is proof that one should never say never.
Sometime around 7:30 last night, The Kid and I decided that it would be fun to make scallion pancakes, something neither of us had ever done. That it was late and that one of us (it turned out to be me) would have to go out to buy sesame oil, scallions and just about everything else that was needed for the noodle salad we thought should go with it, didn't daunt us.
The recipe said that the dough would have to rest 30 minutes after it was mixed, so I stirred up the dough (just a matter of minutes), kneaded it and set it out to rest. Then I did a little of the mise-en-place for the salad and went on my quick shopping trip.
When I came back, I started delegating pieces of dinner to The Kid and I started rolling out the pancakes. By now it was past 9, a little late, but we were having a good time and we were nibbling bits and pieces of stuff as we worked and we were drinking wine. In other words, we were having fun.
I rolled out the dough, brushed the circles with sesame oil, scattered them with scallions and shaped them into jelly rolls, which I flatted and rolled into spirals. And then I saw that the dough needed another 30-minute rest period. Hmmm. A little more wine, a few more nibbles, a consultation on the sauces Joshua was making, and we were still cool.
In fact, we stayed cool until I finished rolling out the spirals I'd made (9:45) and realized that the pancakes needed just one more 30-minute nap before frying. I'd run out of time and it was all my fault!
When my husband saw me stomping around the kitchen and grumbling, he said, "But didn't you read the recipe?"
Well, yes - and no. I read it, but in the excitement of making something for the first time and in the rush of time, I hadn't read it all the way through. In other words, I'd committed the cook's cardinal sin.
Not only is it imperative that a cook read a recipe through before setting to work, I've been known to tell cooks they should read it through ... and then read it through again! After all, there's nothing worse than being surprised in the middle of making something.
So you can see why the next time Michael walked into the kitchen, I'd switched from a grumble to berating myself for not doing as I always say!
But here's the good news: The pancakes were great and we loved, loved, loved the shrimp and rice noodle salad. While I might not have read the recipe well, I sure chose it well. The recipes were from Nina Simonds' book, A Spoonful of Ginger.
No one knows Asian cooking as well as Nina and no one can come even close to explaining it as well as she does.
Here's the recipe for Nina's Flaky Scallion Pancakes - make sure to set aside enough time! - and if you want more of Nina's great recipes, visit her at Spices of Life (where she's got great videos).
FLAKY SCALLION PANCAKES
From A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds
3 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 3/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup or more all-purpose flour, if necessary, for kneading
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup minced scallion greens
3/4 cup canola or corn oil
Makes 24 pancakes
Stir the flours and salt in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the corn oil and the boiling water, and stir until a rough dough forms. If the dough is too soft, knead in about 1/4 cup more flour. 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 very lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a long snakelike roll about 1 inch in diameter. Cut the roll into 24 pieces. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp towel as you work.
With a rolling pin, roll out one piece of dough, cut side down on the work surface, into a 5-inch circle. Brush the top with a little sesame oil and sprinkle with some of the minced scallion greens. Roll up the circle like a jelly roll and pinch the ends to seal. Flatten the roll slightly with the rolling pin, and coil it 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, and let them rest for 30 minutes uncovered.
Reflour the work surface and roll each coiled pancake out to a 4-inch circle. Place them on a lightly floured tray. Let them rest for 30 minutes uncovered, or longer if possible. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat a large, heavy skillet, add the oil, and heat to 350 degrees F. Put a few of the pancakes in the pan, not touching, and fry over medium heat, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a spatula and drain briefly in a colander, then transfer to absorbent paper. Arrange the cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the remaining pancakes, reheating the oil between batches. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven.
Tags: A Spoonful of Ginger
, Nina Simonds
, rice noodle salad
, scallion pancakes
, Spices of Life
At Home in New York
Soups & Starters
| May 14, 2009 8:57 PM
Thank you so much for this recipe! My girls go ga-ga for scallion pancakes. I have been using a recipe from "Tigers & Strawberries" blog for years and would love to try this one, which looks a bit crisper. One good thing that I've found about scallion pancakes is that you can freeze them, uncooked, between pieces of waxed paper, after you've rolled them. That is how they are sold at Chinese markets. Mmmm. And, I just recently posted a blog entry about reading the recipe when I had a recipe failure, that was totally my fault. Makes me feel better that even the pro's make mistakes.
| May 14, 2009 9:29 PM
Dorie, not only do these pancakes look and sound fabulous, but your story is so darn adorable! Are you by any chance planning to post the recipe for the shrimp and rice noodle salad? It all sounds like a great meal!
| May 14, 2009 9:54 PM
these pancakes are great! i find they're even good as leftovers the next day. really excellent comfort food.
| May 14, 2009 10:28 PM
OMG, those sound wonderful. I'm going to make them this weekend (I'll start early) and serve them with the green papaya salad I learned in Vietnam.
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
| May 14, 2009 11:17 PM
I'm a huge fan of Nina Simonds' books, especially Asian Noodles, which is one of the most-used books in my kitchen. Her recipes (like yours!) are well-tested, and almost always work just as she intended. I must confess, though, that I've made scallion pancakes just once -- and now I keep store-bought ones in my freezer.
| May 15, 2009 3:52 PM
I can't tell you how many times my husband and I have done this type of thing! I'll get inspired to make a specific dish, get him excited too, and we'll end up eating around 9 pm (which is late in the states!). But we love cooking enough that we just laugh at ourselves and make the same mistake a few weeks later!
| May 15, 2009 5:31 PM
Oh! I did this same thing just this morning with my croissant recipe. I - little miss know it all - didn't read it and ended up doing my folds all wrong. Oh well. Your pancakes look fantastic! Better late than never?
| May 15, 2009 11:43 PM
I will never forget the first time I had scallion pancakes, and I haven't had them in years! I have to try this, and Nina's other recipes!
| May 15, 2009 11:55 PM
Your story made me smile--I made the same cardinal sin last week when baking my TWD tart. I think I needed a little humbling:)
These pancakes look and sounds fantastic--thanks for sharing!
| May 16, 2009 10:44 AM
These look delicious! We often have something like pancakes for dinner Friday nights; my boys will love these. Also, shrimp and rice noodle salad sounds so, so good. My four year old's favorite food has been shrimp since he first tried them a couple of years ago...
| May 16, 2009 11:04 AM
Every time I try/make up a new recipe, I write it out in a notebook to help familiarize myself with it before I begin. But I also always forget that it takes HOURS to make my favorite pita bread, and tend to start it when I'm already hungry.
| May 16, 2009 6:26 PM
Seems this has happened to all of us, but the end results are what counts and they look delish.
| May 16, 2009 9:23 PM
One reason I love to cook with my 11 year old daughter is that it teaches so many life lessons--like read the whole recipe through, not once but at least twice. She's still little, but the difference in her schoolwork after she started cooking was immediate. She reads directions before she plunges in....BTW, love scallion pancakes and these look perfect!
| May 17, 2009 11:50 AM
This looks really scrumptious! Can't wait to try them!
| May 17, 2009 5:05 PM
Those would go great with a japanese beer.......
What about some more sauce recommendations? Just for fun.......
Laura [What I Like]
| May 18, 2009 10:30 AM
I do that all that time and end up awake and baking at all hours as a result! Love scallion pancakes, but I must admit it's hard to find good ones so I'm glad to have this recipe. You've teased us with the mention of shrimp and rice noodles...what's the recipe for that?
Mixing Bowl Mama
| May 18, 2009 10:30 AM
These sound delicious...Your son is so fortunate to spend time in the kitchen with you...what luck to have a great teacher at home.
| May 18, 2009 11:43 AM
Scallion pancakes or Chong Yio Bing is the everyday "bread" in Taiwan- sold on almost every street corner on roadside carts! We eat them with hot sauce or a sweet soy sauce paste. I grew up eating these whenever I use to visit family back in Taiwan. I will definitely have to try this recipe to bring back those fond memories of my childhood.
| May 20, 2009 9:24 AM
Spoonful of Ginger is one of my favorite cookbooks! We make the salad often but haven't tried the scallion pancakes. We always add peanuts to the salad and it looks as though you may have done the same.
| May 20, 2009 1:00 PM
I love recipes that are simple to put together yet are fabulous - who doesn't! This will go over big in my house!
| May 21, 2009 12:32 PM
I have never had scallion pancakes, but I do love Asian food. I am going to give these a try!
| May 24, 2009 3:00 PM
I love your recipe! your Pancakes look
Thanks for sharing:)
and your can visit me if i can visit you:)
Diana @ AppetiteforChina
| May 26, 2009 10:06 PM
There's another method for scallion pancakes in which the dough doesn't need to rise again after you jelly-roll it. At the beginning, divide the flour in half in separate bowls. In 1 bowl, stir in warm water with dissolved yeast. In another, add the boiling hot water. After you form each separate dough, knead them together. Now the dough just needs the initial 30 minutes of rising. And it'll have enough fluffiness and what the Chinese call "elasticity" for flaky scallion pancakes.
Hope that helps!
bubble & squeak
| April 28, 2010 7:34 AM
Thank you for your funny post. It's one I can definitely relate to.
I love Scallion Pancakes but making them at home takes forever and there never seems to be enough to go around as the family guzzles them like potato chips.
My conclusion is that they can never be dinner as I was just so petered out after all the rolling and frying that I couldn't quite enjoy them despite being hungry as a horse and grumpy as a bear. The worst part was my single batch didn't produce enough to fill our tummies and we all ended up raiding the cupboards bare for a filler.
I used to go to a little diner in Sydney's Chinatown and enjoy them there but sadly I've since moved away.