Monday, May 11, 2009

Extra, Extra!

You know what? Sometimes I hate when supermarkets and grocers run specials. Three for $5! Buy two for a dollar. I mean, part of me loves it because it is a crucial money saver, and that helps the pocket a bit during tough times like these. Furthermore, specials like these are helping the grocers clear their stock as well. But honestly, when I only really need one bunch of green onions to help me survive the week, what the heck am I going to do with the two extra bunches?!

I often find myself having to throw a lot of stuff out because I just can’t eat it all before it goes bad. Nothing’s worse than having your beautiful, fresh produce go limp and lifeless, or even worse, fuzzy and mouldy (can we get a consensual “ewwwww”?). Growing up in a family that lived by the mantra “waste not, want not,” it is sad when I have to throw out food that was perfectly decent a few days ago. I know some of you are thinking, “Just buy one then!” But living in a consumerist world, it’s hard to give up a good deal. As much as I’ve been taught not to waste, I’ve also been taught to be a savvy shopper and to make the most of my money. Heck, if it’s cheaper to buy three bunches of green onions as opposed to one, which option would you pick?

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In an effort to use up some of my green onions, I made a familiar Chinese dish: scallion pancakes. Originating from somewhere in the North of China, these “pancakes” are actually unleavened bread made from a simple flour and water dough. The dough is then separated into smaller portions. Each portion is rolled out into a thin, flat circle, brushed with sesame oil, sprinkled with salt and finely chopped green onions, and then rolled up like a swiss roll before coiling it. Flatten and roll out again to make a flat pancake, and you’re ready to pan-fry them!

These used to be a favourite treat of mine as a child. My mom would often make them along with some other popular Northern Chinese dishes, like hot & sour soup and potstickers. Hot out of the pan, the pancakes are crispy on the outside with a soft, chewy inside flavoured with sesame oil and green onions. These are so easy to throw together, and make for a delicious snack, either in the afternoon or late at night.

I decided to replace half of the flour in the recipe with whole wheat pastry flour to make them a bit on the healthier side. You can’t tell the difference. Be sure to use whole wheat pastry flour though; regular wheat flour will give the pancakes a noticeably coarser texture (unless you don’t mind that!).

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Scallion Pancakes
Makes 6

1 cup flour
1/3 cup boiling water, plus more if needed
Salt
3 stalks green onions, finely chopped
Sesame oil

In a place, place the flour and make a well in the centre. Pour in the boiling water and slowly incorporate the flour into the water, kneading until the dough comes together. (If you find the dough is a little dry—especially if you’re using whole wheat flour—add a bit more water a little at a time.) Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow dough to rest for 15 minutes.

When the dough is ready, roll the dough out into a long cylindrical and cut into 6 equal parts. Roll each portion into a ball and flatten slightly. Roll out into a thin circle (about 1/8-inch thick). Brush the surface with sesame oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Sprinkle green onions over top (to your liking—some like more, some like less!) and roll up like a swiss roll, then coil up the roll like a snail and pinch the seams. Flatten and roll out again until it’s flat. Set aside and repeat with remaining portions of dough.

Pour enough vegetable oil in a cast iron pan to cover the surface and heat over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot enough, place two or three pancakes into the pan (depending on the size of your pan) and let pan-fry for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and let it fry again for about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on some paper towels. Repeat with remaining pancakes. Serve pancakes immediately!

** Note: Uncooked pancakes can also be freezed. Just pop them onto a baking sheet, place in freezer, and when each individual pancake is frozen, place in a freezer bag, separating each pancake with a piece of parchment or wax paper.

3 comments:

Al May 16, 2009 at 11:48 AM  

Unless the supermarket special is described as a 'buy 1 get 1 free' type, then you can simply buy the quantity you need at the reduced price.

If the green onions were being advertised as 3 bunches for $5, then you can buy 1 bunch for $1.67
I've never run into a problem doing that

I just bought a couple of bunches (not on special) to make quesadillas. After reading your post and seeing the photos, I'm going to reserve some of them and try your recipe.

Those scallion pancakes look and sound delicious!

foodmongerette May 28, 2009 at 10:58 PM  

Hi there! I came across your blog via TasteTO.com. Thanks for the recipe idea - I always thought these were harder to make, but they were a breeze! I even impressed my picky dad (the ever so critical Chinese cuisine chef).

Enjoy the blog - looking forward to more recipes!

Bonita May 29, 2009 at 8:58 PM  

Hi foodmongerette! Glad to hear that the recipe was a success for you as well! My mom would occasionally make these during my childhood, so I was always by her side helping out and was so happy to find that these were a cinch to make.

And thank you! I look forward to posting more recipes myself! ;)

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