Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Chinese Scallion Pancakes with Sourdough - Yes, I'm crazy!
I have been wanting to make some Chinese Scallion Pancakes from Appetite for China and maybe I should have just gone to the supermarket and bought some dried yeast, but it was really warm out there and since I haven't recovered from my knee injuries entirely, I needed to give them a rest today in preparation for my long hike into town tomorrow morning.
You see - tomorrow is the day Torremolinos gets its cargo of fresh fruit and vegetables and since they keep these in a very natural state at room temperature - the sooner you can get to them the better. In fact, it's critical for certain things like peaches on Thursday morning, which are nice, fresh and juicy the day they arrive but are half rotten the following day.
Right now Paraguayos or Flat Peaches are in season and I want to get to the fruteria in Torremolinos before the others do and buy as many of these as I think I can humanly carry back home.
But I digress...
I first gave-up making the Chinese Scallion Pancakes when I found out I didn't have any yeast, but then I thought - hey, I've got to feed my starter today and isn't that...yeast?
Anyway I'm crazy. I put half the starter into a bowl which turns out to be 1/2 cup very conveniently, so I fed it with 1 teaspoon sugar and left it covered in an unairconditioned room for an hour. The original recipe tells you to dissolve some yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and add the sugar so I'm not totally off my rockers right?
Well, I am off my rockers because with wild yeast you're supposed to let it rise with more flour and you need to let it prep for hours. You can't just throw in some sugar and leave it in a warm room. But anyway I decided to follow through with this anyway because the Chinese Scallion Pancakes don't have to rise that much and it wouldn't be a total disaster if the yeast didn't 'activate' too well.
I also did worry about the flavor of the pancakes because making American pancakes with sourdough is one thing but Chinese Scallion Pancakes with sourdough? hmmm......
If you're Chinese and freaking out already, please bear with me.
Chinese Leek & Sesame Seed Pancake with Sourdough
(Adapted from Chinese Scallion Pancakes from Appetite for China)
1/2 Cup Sourdough Starter
1 Cup AP Flour + some additional flour for rolling it out and making adjustments
1 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Toasted White Sesame Seeds
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Leeks (finely chopped)
"Sift flour into 2 equal portions into separate bowls. In the first bowl, slowly add the yeast- water, mixing with a spatula, until a dough forms."
The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups AP flour but I used 1 cup because the starter wasn't exactly watery. I mixed 1/2 cup flour into the starter and made a ball of soft sticky but not too sticky dough first.
"In the second bowl, sprinkle the salt into the flour. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the boiling water while vigorously stirring. Add more water and keep stirring until a rough dough forms."
I made some 'blanched dough' with the other 1/2 cup flour in another container, pouring 1/2 cup boiling water over it and then stirring it vigorously using a wooden spatula. I didn't add any additional water but added some flour to make it more firm. The recipe says you can do this.
The recipe then tells you to mix in 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, so I added 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil into the 'blanched dough'. I don't recommend you use olive oil and perhaps canola oil would be a better choice, but in Spain oil=olive oil.
I rolled both balls of doughs out on a heavily floured surface versus the lightly floured surface in the recipe (as the texture of both my dough balls was soft) and kneaded them together.
I covered this with a damp cloth and left it in an uncomfortably warm room for 40 minutes.
The question was: Would the dough rise?
After 40 minutes the dough wasn't looking too good so I decided to leave it for another 2 hours. I did use a sourdough starter that I didn't prep, so this wasn't too surprising.
So 2 hours and 40 minutes later, I rolled out the dough that had risen ever so slightly and made it into a 1-inch thick log and sliced them into balls about the size of Ping Pong-balls.
I then rolled each of these into 4 - 5 inch circles, brushed the top of each of these with oil and chopped up leeks (instead of scallions) and toasted sesame seeds, and then rolled them up - like you roll-up a jelly roll.
When you have this roll, you need to roll-it up again. Think about a snake making a tight coil.
The author has taken excellent photographs of how to do this step-by-step, so please take a look at her post.
Flatten these coils with a rolling pin and they're ready to be fried in oil in a non-stick frying pan. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
These apparently freeze well so just cook as many as you wish to have, because they always taste better fresh.
So how were my Chinese 'Leek' Pancakes with Sourdough?
They were a bit brown because my starter contained whole wheat flour but the flaky layers were delightful, and the flavor of the sesame seeds and leeks was absolutely divine.
I do urge you to make these things normally according to the original recipe in Appetite for China, but I'm quite pleased that not having commercial yeast in the house didn't stop me from satisfying my cravings for these Chinese Scallion Pancakes.
I've decided to submit this to Yeast Spotting as suggested by Elra.