Chinese Scallion Pancakes: The Remake
The other evening, my friend Eternal Optimist and I went to see a movie (Friends with Benefits–surprisingly enjoyable, and I even liked Justin Timberlake in it!). We both love watching the trailers before the film, but what struck us this time was how many of them were actually promoting remakes of old movies. First was Planet of the Apes (okay, technically a prequel), followed by Straw Dogs. Even the main attraction itself was sort of a remake (of When Harry Met Sally–oh, and pretty much every rom-com ever written). It got me thinking about the concept of remakes in general: you know, those revised, updated versions of established classics.
For instance, did you know that the movie King Kong has been made at least three times (seven if you count all the sequels and “Sons of–”)? Dracula: seven times (not to mention and entire page on Wikipedia devoted to spinoffs and related films). Invasion of the Body Snatchers: five times. Heck, even Freaky Friday has had two remakes! And (in my humble opinion), each remake is just slightly less effective, less interesting, less engaging than the previous version.
I feel the same way about books made into movies, for the most part. How many times have you read a book, then seen the movie, only to be bitterly disappointed? (Though I must admit I’m really looking forward to The Help on the big screen; and most people would agree that The Godfather was a better film than novel). With novels, imagination allows for any manner of individual, idiosyncratic characters, appearances, voices, and so on. When you see a movie, it’s all distilled into one face, one voice, one set of mannerisms–there’s no way you can envision anything that isn’t already right in front of you.
I have noticed that certain things, however, do improve with a little revision. In the past, when I lectured at the college where I teach, I’d sometimes have to present the same course to three different groups of students. Each time I delivered the material, I’d think of a new detail to add, or an additional example to illustrate a point. By the third class, I was really rocking, and those students always received the most detailed, most engaging lecture of the three. Similarly, working on refining a recipe usually leads to improvements each time you “remake” it.
When I switched to a gluten-free diet back in March 2009, it seemed a little overwhelming to create tasty foods I could eat. Back then, it never entered my mind to “remake” any of the original recipes on this blog. Eventually, once I was familiar with gluten free flours and low glycemic sweeteners, I began to play with some of the recipes in my cookbook, Sweet Freedom (and by the way–did you happen to notice who included my book in her “Going Vegan with Ellen” website?! Whooooopeeeee!!). I’ve now re-made the Butterscotch Blondies, Fluffy Fruited Pancakes, Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Seed Jumble Cookies, and a few others using my all-purpose gluten-free flour mix in place of the spelt, and every one has come out great!
My sweet successes led me to experiment with other flour-heavy recipes as well, just to see what I could make of them. Last week, I remembered these Chinese Scallion Pancakes, one of the most popular recipes on the blog (and one that the HH and I absolutely adored back in the days when we would meet for lunch during the workweek). What if I could re-create those pancakes to taste just as appetizing as the original? What if we didn’t need to frequent a restaurant to enjoy some chewy, salty, green onion-y flatbreads with our lunch? What if I suddenly lost 15 pounds and had perfectly toned triceps (oops, sorry; wrong fantasy there). What if–??
And so, I give you gluten free Chinese Scallion Pancakes. I have to admit that the process was much easier than even I anticipated; I simply subbed a mix of all purpose flour and sweet rice flour (also called glutenous rice flour) for the spelt, and–presto–the recipe worked perfectly the very first time! I’ve since made these two more times (just to be sure the recipe works, you understand) and they’ve come out beautifully both times. The exterior is browned and crisp; the interior is moist, delightfully chewy, with the murmur of caramelized green onion strewn here and there. Great on their own, or with a spread or dip of your choice.
Now, if only I can figure out how to remake my triceps . . .
Gluten Free Chinese Scallion Pancakes
suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond
These pancakes are a perfect accompaniment for Sunday brunch, to sop up some rich Onion Gravy with your next nut roast or veggie burger, or all on their own as a snack. The combination of chewy, salty and bready will have you hooked in no time!
1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (360 ml) Ricki’s all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sweet rice flour (or glutenous rice flour)
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) xanthan gum (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup to 10 Tbsp (120-150 ml) warm water
2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil, preferably organic
1/2 tsp fine or coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper, optional
6 green onions, white and light green parts
Sift the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the water slowly, mixing as you go, until you have a very soft dough (use a touch more or less water, as necessary). Form the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth; let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Flour a large work surface thoroughly with more all-purpose flour, and place the ball in the center of it; dust the top with more flour. Roll out to a disk of around 12-14 inches (30-35.5 cm), dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Brush lightly with about 1-1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) of the oil, then sprinkle with salt (and pepper, if using). Scatter the green onions evenly over top.
Roll up the dough tightly to form a long roll. Cut the roll in half and pinch the ends closed as best you can. Stand each roll on its cut end and push down to create two patties (or disks).
Working with one disk at a time, roll it out the floured surface (use more flour as needed), moving outward from the center. Make a round about 7 inches (18 cm) wide.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush lightly with the oil. Gently transfer the disk to the pan, and then brush the top of the dough with more oil. Cook 4-5 minutes, until the bottom is browned in spots. Gently flip the pancake and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a plate (cover with a clean cloth, if desired, to keep it warm while you cook the second pancake). Repeat the procedure with the second dough patty, rolling it, brushing with oil, and cooking in the same way.
Cut each pancake into 4 pieces and serve immediately. Makes 2 large cakes, or 4 servings. Best eaten fresh, but if you have leftovers, wrap tightly in plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 350F (180C) oven for about 10 minutes to serve.
Last Year at this Time: Sweet Freedom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies: Gluten Free! (ACD Stage 3 and beyond; gluten free)