After a solid two weeks of baking and decorating cookies for Drop In and Decorate, the last thing I want to do is cook.
Thank goodness for a well-stocked pantry, and for frozen scallion pancakes.
Not what you'd think of as a pantry item? Well, if all you do with them is heat and serve, I'd have to agree, because my definition of a pantry item is one which is kept on hand for the purpose of creating something else. But scallion pancakes can be so much more than the appetizer you get in Chinese restaurants, served cut into wedges with a soy dipping sauce. They're easy to make from scratch, but even easier to buy and stash in the freezer.
Closely related to Navajo fry bread and sopapillas in taste and texture, scallion pancakes are made from a wheat dough, layered with sesame oil and chopped green onions. The trick is in the technique; the dough is rolled into a rope, then formed in a spiral and rolled flat. This creates a flaky bread which, when fried, is crispy on the outside and chewy in the center.
You can stuff scallion pancakes with a meat filling, use them as a wrap for stir-fry dishes, or make an Asian taco. Slice them into half-inch strips, fry, and add to dumpling soups. Or, open up the "pocket" (cut horizontally into thin layers), cut into wedges, deep fry to make "chips", and serve with mango chutney.
Scallion pancake pizza
Chef Joyce Costa, at The Gourmet Outlet in New Bedford, MA, invented this easy and unusual appetizer. You can also make it with cooked scallion pancakes from a Chinese restaurant; order takeout, and ask the restaurant not to cut the pancakes into wedges. Make as many or as few as you wish. One whole pancake serves 2, with a salad, for lunch, or makes 6 mini-pizza appetizers.
2 Yukon gold or red-skinned new potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 package scallion pancakes, defrosted
1/2 lb of your favorite bleu (or blue!) cheese
Place potatoes in a small sauce pan and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 12-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, fill a heavy skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch with peanut oil. Heat the oil, and one at a time, fry the scallion pancakes on both sides until lightly browned but still pliable. [NOTE: if you want to make mini-pizzas, cut out with a cookie cutter before frying.] Remove to a platter lined with paper towels, and drain.
Place cooked pancakes on a rimmed baking sheet. Top with potatoes, and sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted. Let cool for a minute or two, then slice into small wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.
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