Off to the Races: Scallion Pancakes

I've always thought of my cousin Cindy as the younger, hipper, version of me -- we have a lot in common, including jobs as federal government attorneys and a love of baking. But there are also some big differences. The most pertinent for the purposes of this blog post is the fact that she's a runner. Running has never been my thing, but Cindy does it for fun and runs races to boot. At our last cousins' brunch, Cindy talked two of my other cousins and their significant others into joining her for the St. Pat's 10K race last weekend. Tom and I politely declined to sign up but readily agreed to host the post-race brunch.

I decided to focus on savory food for the brunch menu. It so happens that I recently got a copy of Joanne Chang's Flour, Too cookbook, and the minute I saw her scallion pancake recipe I knew I wanted to give it a try. I should mention that to me, scallion pancakes are a brunch food. My husband and I often go to A&J Restaurant on weekends for brunch, and we always order a scallion pancake.

What intrigued me most about this recipe is the fact that the pancakes are made with focaccia dough. Chang says it occurred to her that focaccia dough would make great fried dough and "an even more awesome scallion pancake" because the yeasted dough would fry up lighter and airier than traditional dough. While Chang also says you can make the pancakes with store-bought pizza dough, I decided to go the focaccia route, which required some advanced planning. Thankfully, the 10K race and brunch were on a Sunday, so I had all day Saturday to prepare.

The focaccia dough is a mixture of yeast dissolved in warm water, all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, salt, and olive oil. It's a breeze to mix and knead it in a Kitchenaid mixer. You transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and let it rise for a few hours until doubled, smooth and shape it into a 6-inch square, let it rise again until puffy, and then you can finally start making the pancake.

You take a portion of focaccia dough, roll it out into a rectangle, and spread on a filling made from chopped scallions, salt, and sesame oil. Then you roll up the dough with the filling inside and form the roll into a tight coil. After letting the dough proof and relax (I let this happen overnight in the fridge), you flatten the coil and roll out the pancake into a 10-inch circle. It only takes a few minutes to pan fry the pancakes on both sides, and then they're ready to cut and serve.
I made the dipping sauce recipe that was included: a mixture of soy sauce, siracha, sesame oil, grated ginger, rice vinegar, and sugar. My pancakes were not perfectly round, but they looked pretty good after I sliced them into wedges. And they were delicious -- golden and crisp on the outside, with soft layers inside. The dipping sauce was amazing -- the perfect blend of umami, salty, spicy, and sour. I'm not going to claim that these were as good as the pancakes at A&J -- but they were very tasty and a big hit at the brunch.

The race conditions were terrible. My cousins ran 10 kilometers through the sleet and freezing cold -- literally being hit in the face with ice pellets throughout. Course water stations were eliminated to avoid ice patches that might form from spillage. I'm so proud of everyone for completing the 10K and happy that we were able to host the post-race celebration.

Recipe: "Scallion Pancakes" from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang. Recipe and video available here (but the linked recipe uses store-bought pizza dough and doesn't include instructions for the focaccia dough).


Louise said…
These look terrific. I, too, recently got a copy of "Flour, Too", and I will be making these shortly. I've never been a runner either, although my husband was, but we were regular bicyclists and have ridden way too many century rides.