When we were young our parents would take us to the American Restaurant in Hong Kong for big family gatherings. And without failure we would always order scallion pancakes, its recipe not found anywhere else. American Restaurant, by the way, is by no mean American. It was established in 1948 in Hong Kong, originally serving American food. But Peikingnese food was subsequently introduced and became an instant hit and American food was since abandoned. Today, American Restaurant is still one of the most popular eatery in HK (prince Andrew and Michael Jackson have visited this place).
Valerie complains that our take on these scallion pancakes does not match up to that served at the American Restaurant, but they have a nice savoury crunch on the outside, with a soft inner dough flavoured by the sweetness of scallion; and most importantly, it takes us straight back to the table with our family in this crowded cosy joint!
5 cups of plain flour
2 cups of warm waterA small pinch of salt
Approx. ½ cup vegetable oil(canola / sunflower works best)2 large bunch of scallions, washed and wilted parts discarded, and then both white and green parts chopped into small rings Salt and white pepper to taste
Vegetable oil (canola / sunflower works best)5 tsp of sesame seeds (optional – approximately 1 tsp per pancake)
1. Mix flour and water to form a smooth dough. Add a small pinch of salt. Constantly and repeatedly knead and fold and press it down until the dough is really smooth and really elastic. Lightly grease the outer layer of the dough with oil and place it in a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. Chopped the scallions, both white and green parts into small rings. Depending on your preference, you can easily scale up or down the amount of scallions used.
3. After sufficiently resting the dough, divide the dough in to 5 equal pieces.
4. On a lightly floured surface – using a rolling pin, roll out one dough piece so that it is approximately 10 x 10 inch in size.
5. Spread evenly 2 tsp of vegetable oil on the dough. Then sprinkle ½ - 1 tsp of salt and a small pinch of white pepper. Spread 1/5 of the chopped scallions evenly on the surface.
6. Starting from one edge of the dough, roll the dough into a long ‘sausage’ shape.
7. Coil the ‘sausage’ up into a ‘cinnamon danish’ shape. Pinch lightly at the end to ensure the onion and oil mixture is enclosed.
8. Repeat step 4 – 6 for the remaining 4 pieces of pancake dough.
9. Cover each coil with cling film and rest them for approximately 15 minutes.
10. Using a rolling pin, roll each coil out into a 9 inch diameter pancake.
11. Heat 2 – 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, place a pancake in the pan. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sesame seeds on top (optional). Cook for 2 - 3 minutes on one side then flip it over and cook for a further 2 minutes, making sure each side is golden brown but not burnt.