Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scallion Pancakes. Mmmm.

Mmmm. So I've been inventive in the kitchen as of late.

It's nice that my family, as well as myself, work with food and so there is usually a plethoria of seafood (me), bread (sister) or produce (dad) at our respective homes.

Earlier this week, I made fish sandwiches which probably cost a quarter each (for condiments). Yesterday, I made an equally "frugal" dinner consisting of brown rice, scallion pancakes, soy-marinated black cod, corn and black bean salad, and sauteed veggies. Ok, so the only "free" thing was the black cod, but still. For a frugal delicious dinner, that was pretty damned good.

Scallion pancakes? I've *always* had to have them when we ate at ANY Szechuan restaurant when I was younger. Some places fouled it up, with too few green onions sprinkled into the dough, other places had horribly dry or pasty dough, still other places just did not cook it long enough!

Being that the recipe at Basil and Ginger has only five essential ingredients, it's typically one of those recipes that needs an experienced chef.

I, for one, am not one of those experienced chefs!

-1 cup all purpose flour
-1/3 cup warm water
-lard / shortening / butter (I used a mixture of cream cheese & sweet chili sauce)
-green onions / scallions

I mixed together the flour with some salt in a bowl, then made a well in the middle and gradually mixed in the warm water.

When the dough came together, I gathered it together and left it to rest for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, I mixed together some softened cream cheese and sweet chili sauce (this concoction is also DELICIOUS on any cracker or bread!), and sliced up my green onions.

For the amount of dough above, I rolled it into a log and cut it into three sections. Working with each section separately, I rolled it out into a flat circle, and spread the cream cheese mixture onto it. I then sprinkled it liberally with green onions.

Working from one end, I rolled the disc up into a long cylinder, then pinched the edges down and rolled the cylinder into a coil. This coil was then rolled out again.

I pan fried the pancakes (3 of them - cooking for 2 after all!) in a generous amount of veggie oil. They were so beautiful and crispy and golden!!!

The cream cheese mixture was ok. I would probably keep the sweet chili sauce, but use butter or lard next time (there really is no substitute when baking for light crispy layers). I'd probably let the dough rest some more as well, or use cake flour next time as the pancakes were a little chewier than I liked.

In all though, this is one recipe that is staying in rotation. One of my favourite foods, and I usually have all the ingredients for it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If you Change your Mind...

So I have a standing date with my mom to watch "Mamma Mia" when it comes out in theatres.

I had dinner with my family yesterday as I had to renew my passport in Richmond. It was a low-key dinner at Hoi Tong on Westminster Highway. Here's a great mom & pop restaurant, with Mrs. Leung on quality control and Mr. Leung overseeing the line. We missed them when they "semi retired" from their No3 road location and moved to Hong Kong for a couple years. But now they're back, in a smallish restaurant space, open only from 5pm - 10 pm.

We had a refreshing house soup (pork & coconut), braised squab, blanched geoduck atop sweet chinese greens, deep fried shrimp balls, braised fish with mushrooms and tofu (soooo good), sauteed fish fillets with straw mushrooms and choy sum, and deliciously moist roast chicken.

As I was telling TM afterwards, it was serious comfort food. TM likes a lot of meat and gravy and sauces with his food. Eating with my parents at places like Hoi Tong is just so satisfying. It can even be deep fried, but it just feels good.

And, of cours,e it had a lot to do with having dinner with my parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Growing up, it was almost taboo (still is) to miss dinner with the family. Suppertime conversation was usually sparse and brief, but as we grow older, the conversation and catching up over dinner and just enjoying each others company is fuel for the soul.

I slept well last night.
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