Cooking as therapy and Chinese spring onion pancake recipe

Posted on April 8, 2013

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I don’t really want to over share details of my personal life on my blog, but anyway…I’ve sustained a leg injury and as such, I’m currently hobbling around on crutches. If you’re lucky enough to have never needed crutches in your life, you might not understand exactly how annoying they are. They are SO annoying and cumbersome. Anyway the point of me sharing this is to explain why my posts will be less frequent over the next couple of months. Obviously, it is harder for me to get around, so I will eat out less and have less blog fodder. And while I still want to cook, most of the cooking will be limited to what can be easily prepped and cooked whilst sitting down on a stool. Photo quality will drop a bit as it’s quite a task trying to compose a nice photograph whilst balancing on one leg with crutches dangling off my arms. Generally I’m coping ok, and clearly a bit fanatical about maintaining this blog, much to the disbelief and bemusement of my family and friends.

I suspect some people would be questioning my sanity for wanting to persist in making (or at least helping prep) my meals instead of just relying on loved ones to spoil me with their cooking. What can I say? I really enjoy cooking. I don’t love cooking all the time, sometimes I find it draining and a bit of a chore. But generally I enjoy the process. I like putting a meal together and I love it even more when I’m sharing it with people; whether it be cooking with them, for them or just posting about it here. It’s rather therapeutic. Plus it’s not like I can enjoy my other pursuits for the time being – no shopping for this girl :(.

So it is with this mindset that I sat myself on the kitchen bench to make spring onion pancakes over the weekend. Spring onion pancakes are a Chinese appetizer/snack, it’s basically a pan-fried flat bread with spring onion filling. I’ve not made it before, but have always wanted to give it a go and it felt like a good recipe to make in my current state. Reason being there aren’t many ingredients so I didn’t need to make many hops to and from the pantry/fridge to the work bench, and most of the work/fun is in the rolling of the dough which can easily be managed while seated. Strangely enough, photos of the process will be better than the finished product since it was easy enough to snap while I was seated, but by the time the cooking was done, my family had come over and was fussing about.

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Most recipes online follow a ratio of 3 parts flour to 1 part warm water. As with all doughs, it is sensitive to climate, so depending on the humidity of your kitchen, you may need to tweak this ratio a little. Aside from that, this recipe is so basic that there are hardly any variations between the numerous recipes found online, and most of these differences are negligible. Certainly I have only come across one style of rolling the dough, but if anyone has another way of rolling their spring onion pancake, I’d be interested to see it. This particular way of rolling the dough is how the layers within the pancake is achieved. I can’t claim the below recipe as my own, but at the same time, I’m not quite sure who to credit either. Perhaps just anyone/everyone who has made or posted this recipe before me? 🙂

RECIPE – Chinese spring onion pancake (makes 8, about 12cm diameter each)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup hot water, but not boiling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (using sesame oil is optional, but I like the fragrance it adds)

Method:

  1. To make the dough, place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add in hot water and stir until the dough comes together. You may need more or less water/flour. If your dough has cracks, it is too dry. If it feels slimy, it is too wet. Adjust this by adding more flour/water one tablespoon at a time. Knead dough for a few minutes until it is no longer sticky and has a smooth consistent texture.IMG_6362
  2. Brush dough all over with a little vegetable oil, place in bowl and cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a small bowl and reserve.
  4. Roll dough into a log and divide into 8 equal sized pieces.
  5. Take 1 piece of the dough and roll into a flat disc. Brush dough with a thin layer of oil mixture and sprinkle on chopped spring onions.IMG_6384
  6. Roll dough up like a cigar and pinch ends closed. Coil the cigar shaped dough into a spiral (snail?) and pinch end closed.springonionpancake1
  7. Flatten spiral into a disc. Don’t stress if some of the spring onions burst through the dough while rolling, that’s all part of its rustic charm. How thin you want the final disc to be is really up to you. I like mine quite thin; it cooks faster and you get a crispier pancake. Repeat process with remaining dough. If you are stacking the pancakes on top of each other, make sure to separate them with a piece of baking paper to prevent sticking. Your pancakes can be refrigerated or frozen to be cooked later.IMG_6391
  8. To cook, heat a fry pan on medium with the leftover oil mixture. Once the pan is hot, pan fry pancakes until golden brown and cooked through. (I used very scant oil when frying these babies, you will get a prettier golden crust if you are more generous with using oil.)
  9. Serve immediately.IMG_6394

Super easy recipe no? So much better than the ones you get in packets and a whole less oily than the ones in most restaurants. As a serving suggestion, the Taiwanese like to roll these pancakes up with a plain egg omelet, pork floss, Chinese doughnut, soy and chilli. They are super yummy that way!

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