Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scallion Pie

This recipe is adapted from Barbara Tropp’s The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking (Pan-Fried Scallion Bread) that Christopher gave me, hoping, no doubt, for more Chinese cooking at home, for Christmas ~87/88. It is a terrific cookbook, but has very wordy, detailed instructions. It may not look that way but I’ve tried to simplify. If you don’t have a food processor, dough can be made in a mixing bowl adding first dry ingredients and then streaming the wet.

(1) Cold Water Dough
In a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade put:

1 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder

Add in a thin stream through the food tube while machine is running

1/3 c ice water

Give machine 2-3 seconds lag time to incorporate the last water droplets and form a ball; if no ball forms then add several drops of water until the dough comes together. Stop the machine and remove the dough (sometimes one large ball and several smaller ones).

(2) Hot Water Dough
In same food processor bowl repeat the above process using:

1 c all-purpose flour
1 t coarse kosher salt
1/3 c boiling water

(3) Combining the Dough:
As soon as the hot water dough coheres in a ball return the cold-water dough to the processor bowl. Process the two doughs together for 15 seconds. Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead it gently with the heel of your hand until it is smooth and earlobe soft. If dough is sticking continue to dust board with flour and knead dough until it no longer sticks, but be wary of adding too much flour; dough should be earlobe soft – not stiff – or it will be tough when cooked.
In a large bowl put:
1 ½ t sesame seed oil
Add the dough and turn so exterior of dough and interior of bowl are completely coated with oil. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes – 2 hours.

(4) Shaping the Bread:
Turn dough out on floured board, knead gently just until smooth, then divide into two balls. Put one ball aside, covered with a dishtowel. Roll the other ball on the floured board into circle 1/8 inch thick. Evenly spread over the top one-half of the following ingredients in the following order:

1 ½ t sesame seed oil
4 medium scallions, cut into green and white rings [I use more; I have come to the conclusion that more scallions are better and use ~10 scallions to make this recipe plus dipping sauce.   Photos at upper left show ~2 scallions per pancake.  Photos of rolled pancakes, ready to cook show pancake with ~2 scallions (upper left of photo) and pancake with ~4 (lower right of photo) .The more scallions used, the more scallions will break through during the final rolling. While this may defy the Chinese technique, I think I prefer both the appearance and more flavorful taste of the finished product.

1 ½ t coarse kosher salt [I use less]

Start at one edge and roll into a “log”; pinch end seams shut, then starting with one end, coil into a “snail” shaped spiral with the coils touching at every point. Tuck the tail end under the spiral; flatten a bit with palm of your hand. Use a rolling pin to gently roll (try not to burst layers of dough, though a few scallions will leak out) into 7-8 inch diameter circle. Cover with towel and repeat process with second ball.

At this point, one or both pies may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated/frozen for future cooking.

(5) Cooking
Heat in a heavy skillet large enough to accommodate one pie:

~ ¼ c peanut oil (oil should cover bottom of pan completely)

When oil is hot, add pie, adjusting heat so bubbles sizzle slowly around it. Cover the pan, then cook over moderately low heat, occasionally shaking pan back and forth to encourage steam that will puff the bread, until the bottom is golden brown (2-5 minutes). Flip the bread – if pan is very dry dribble in a bit more oil, then shake pan to distribute. Cover, reduce heat slightly and cook 3 minutes more, shaking pan occasionally. After 3 minutes, check bottom at 30-second intervals and remove when bottom is golden. Remove from pan and cut into pie shaped wedges.

If cooking second pie, wipe skillet clean, reheat pan and add:

~ ¼ c peanut oil

Repeat process above.

Ms. Tropp suggests serving pancakes garnished with a few scallion rings. I like to serve pancakes with a dipping sauce:

1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar (I buy the Marukan sodium free, sugar free)
1/4 c scallions, thinly sliced
1 t ginger, grated
1/2 - 1 t red pepper flakes, to taste
1 t sugar

Reviewed 5/10/17

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