Friday, January 20, 2012

Scallion Pancakes with soy ginger dipping sauce


I really meant to write this post when I got several bunches of scallions in my CSA box. Many many months ago. Then I waited so long that it just seemed worth waiting a little longer to write about scallion pancakes in time for Chinese New Year, which starts on January 23 this year. So now, after all this time, I am finally sharing my experiments making scallion pancakes with you!

I have always wanted to make scallion pancakes and after talking to a coworker at length about hot water dough, I felt as ready as ever to take on the challenge.

If you are like me and have never worked with a hot water dough before, I urge you to read this highly informative Serious Eats post.

As nerdy as it sounds, after reading the Serious Eats post, I couldn't wait to try experimenting with the number of folds and amount of scallions in my scallion pancakes. I tried three techniques of which the second yielded the best results.


Technique 1, the basic approach, with 1 iteration: Start with hot water dough rolled into a pancake shape. Brush with sesame oil. Sprinkle with scallions. Roll up like a cigar, make a tight rose spiral, flatten and re-roll out into a pancake. Pan fry. Drain and sprinkle with salt.





But like the Serious Eats post, I wanted more layers and more scallions.

Technique 2 with 2 iterations:  Start with hot water dough rolled into a pancake shape. Brush with sesame oil. Roll up like a cigar, make a tight rose spiral, flatten and re-roll out into a pancake. Brush with sesame oil. Sprinkle with scallions. Roll up like a cigar, make a rose spiral, flatten and re-roll out into a pancake. Pan fry. Drain and sprinkle with salt.

Technique 3 with 3 iterations:  Start with hot water dough rolled into a pancake shape. Brush with sesame oil. Roll up like a cigar, make a tight rose spiral, flatten and re-roll into a pancake. Brush with sesame oil. Roll up like a cigar, make a rose spiral, flatten and re-roll out into a pancake. Brush with sesame oil. Sprinkle with scallions. Roll up like a cigar, make a rose spiral, flatten and re-roll out into a pancake. Pan fry. Drain and sprinkle with salt.

Below is how each attempt turned out. Technique 3 with 3 iterations resulted in scallions breaking through the dough and a pretty sticky mess.



Technique 2 with 2 iterations was a perfect combination of flaky layers and scallion dispersion.


Technique 1, the basic approach, with 1 iteration turned out a bit too dough-y relative to scallion-y.

 

All in all, it was fun to work with hot water dough and experiment with layers. It felt a bit like a Goldilocks moment, with the moderate approach coming out "just right."

Scallion pancakes with soy ginger dipping sauce (Serious Eats)
pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
1 cup boiling water
Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
1 to 1.5 cups thinly sliced scallion greens
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt

dipping sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp finely sliced scallion greens
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sugar

Place flour in bowl of food processor (see note). With processor running, slowly drizzle in about 3/4 of boiling water. Process for 15 seconds. If dough does not come together and ride around the blade, drizzle in more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, scallions, ginger and sugar. Set aside.

Divide dough into four even pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Working one ball at a time, roll out into a disk roughly 8-inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Using a pastry brush, paint a very thin layer of sesame oil over the top of the disk. Roll disk up like a jelly roll, then twist roll into a tight spiral, tucking the end underneath. Flatten gently with your hand, then re-roll into an 8-inch disk.

Paint with another layer or sesame oil, sprinkle with about 1/4 cup scallions, and roll up like a jelly roll again. Twist into a spiral, flatten gently, and re-roll into a 7-inch disk. Repeat steps two and three with remaining pancakes.

Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick or cast-iron over medium-high heat until shimmering and carefully slip pancake into the hot oil. Cook, shaking the pan gently until first side is an even golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula or tongs (be careful not to splash the oil), and continue to cook, shaking pan gently, until second side is even golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt, cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping. Repeat with remaining 3 pancakes.

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