Monday, May 21, 2012

The Scallion Pancake

Have you ever felt like your food wasn't creative enough?  Does it lack the whimsy needed to lift your spirits?  That was my frame of mind when I got the notion to weave this little scallion wonder.  

Gluten Free Scallion Pancake

Woven Scallions Sizzling in Hot Oil
Using a few scallions that were trimmed from my windowsill plant, I set out to bring visual amusement to the mundane pancake.  In short I wove together 9-10 scallion pieces that were cut in five  inch lengths.  The weaving skill was acquired in second or third grade nearly four decades ago.  Who would have thought those construction paper crafts would turn out to be so useful.  Soon I'd built a little raft ready to sail me off to a blissful lunch.   

For the pancake batter I mixed together a few basic ingredients you'd find in most kitchens :

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup gluten free Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 3 chopped scallions
  • salt and pepper to taste

After carefully laying the the woven scallion raft into an oiled nonstick pan, I poured the batter on top and cooked it the same as one might cook any other pancake.  You know the drill.  Use a medium heat and let it go until the edges begin to dry and small bubble begin to form on the top.  Then it flip that sucker over and let it go for a minute or so on the other side. Regardless of a few unexpected results like the double edged border in certain areas, and a minor interruption in the woven pattern, the result was a visually stunning  successful.  


The Finished Scallion Pancake - Artwork for the Kitchen Wall

Oh it all sounds well and good but, the truth of the matter is that when the woven scallions hit the pan they began to spring up in various directions and I began to panic.  I had already snapped photos of everything leading up to the frying pan and I could feel this project turning into a disaster.  Would I need to scrap the whole thing?  Of course not.  I grabbed a wide spatula and smashed that scallion raft like it was a bug about to invade my picnic.  Then I used a fork to re-position the pattern.  The fork worked much better than diving into the pan with my bare hands as was my initial reaction.  I couldn't help but wonder if this was really what an epicure would be doing.   

What I do know is that the rescue mission wasn’t captured in pixels.  You might say I was a bit preoccupied trying to avert the disaster.  Things can get quite hairy when the cook is also the amature photographer. 

While the visual presentation of this scallion pancake turned out remarkably well for the way the cooking process began, in the end I had made a critical error. 

You see, what was gained in visual amusement was lost in the textural challenge that those long embedded scallions provided in the dish.  What should have been a delightful bite turned into a bit of a struggle when I took my first bite.  You see, woven things are woven for a reason.  That whole network of woven scallions fought desperately to stay together as I fought for the perfect bite struggling against the scallion design.     

In the end, although the pancake had delicious elements, I'd give it a failing grade for the unforeseen problems caused by the woven scallions.  This one would serve far better as artwork on your kitchen wall.  

The next time I make this I'll certainly change a few things.  

I'd replace the sriracha sauce  with sambal and use twice the amount.  The little flecks of pepper in the sambal would add more visual appeal and doubling the amount will provide a better counterbalance to the sweeter elements in the batter.  Forget about weaving the scallions and just chop them all up in the batter.  This eliminates half the work and the textural challenge that reared its ugly head when it cam time to eat the pancake.  I'd also make these a lot smaller to produce more crispy edge to pancake ratio. After all, when you're looking for a dish that provides amusement, an amuse bouche beats a six inch pancake hands down my friends.  

Stay tuned folks, I'll revisit these delectable scallion pancakes at some point in the future.  The Epicure's journey is an upward climb.  In the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter so far.  And if you've got an idea for an accompanying dipping sauce, I'd love to hear that too.  Or would that be a cardinal sin to the crispiness?  

Until next time, much love from the gfE.