Last night I was feeling peckish for Asian food. Immediately I was drawn to memories of scallion pancakes. I’ve not made them in a while and it was time.
I first tried these savory wonders at a Korean restaurant in New York City a few years ago. We were there to celebrate Steven’s birthday with some friends: David, Cesar and a bunch more from Steven’s school. The restaurant was one of those interactive type places where ingredients are brought to your table and then you cook them yourself while sharing everything with your friends. You sit around a big stove, cooking, eating and drinking and visiting. I like this type of restaurant atmosphere a lot. The only inconvenient part is that afterwards your clothes need to go straight to the laundry and you for a shower, as you inevitably smell like cooked food.
From all the dishes we ordered that day, I was most curious about scallion pancakes. They’re so unusual to me. These came already prepared, so a few days later I went to that fabulous Barnes and Noble on Union Square to search a couple of cookbooks for the recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which books I used now so I can’t give them the credit they deserve. Sorry.
This recipe makes two skillet-sized pancakes. It’s pretty similar to the original I had at the restaurant in little Korea. It tastes savory, nutty and oniony with a pleasant chewy texture. Here you go:
2 cups flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup of hot water (plus a bit more if needed)
5 whole scallions cut diagonally
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil or olive oil (optional)
Place flour and salt in the food processor. Process a bit to mix. With food processor still running, add hot water in a steady and slow stream. You should have a ball of dough forming in no time. Otherwise add a bit more water. Transfer dough to a bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let dough rest for about 40 minutes at room temperature.
Heat two skillets to medium temperature with a tablespoon of canola oil in each.
Cut dough into two equal pieces. Return one piece back to bowl and cover with damp towel.
Sprinkle some flour over the counter. Stretch dough with your hands and press half of scallions into dough. Fold it and using your rolling pin roll dough out to a disk, about 10-12 inches diameter. Transfer to heated pan and fry for about 4 minutes per side. Repeat process with remaining dough.
Drizzle some olive oil over each pancake to give it a Mediterranean flavor; add toasted sesame oil for a Korean style finish. Forget the oil and it’s great as a savory pancake. Use Vietnamese dipping sauce for a South East Asian flavor.