In this day of Coronavirus and Wuhan horror stories, I’m sure China is not on your 2020 travel list. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Chinese or Vietnamese food in your own home as you do your social-distancing.
This takes a few steps, but my kids assured me that I “hit it out of the park.” And your kids never lie to you, right?
These Chinese scallion pancakes (originating in Cong You Bing, China) are great on their own, simply cut in triangles and dipped in some Vietnamese Nuoc Cham. But make a few items to use them as tacos, and they’re a lot more fun.
First the Ginger Beef
1 small chuck roast - ~2-3 pounds
4-5 slices ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Oil the chuck roast all over.
Sear both sides briefly in the slow cooker (if it has that feature) or in a pan.
Add the meat and the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 8 hours.
When the beef is abut an hour away from being done, start the rest of your prep:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
6 pinches salt
1cup chopped scallions (green parts only)
In a large bowl, combine flour and hot water into a dough.
Form into a ball and brush with a little of the oil and cover with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes.
Cut into 8 even pieces and roll into 8 balls. Cover with wrap until you use each one.
This is a wet dough so I rolled my dough between a silicone mat and plastic wrap. Flatten each ball with a rolling pin until they are about 5-6 inches around.
Remove the top wrap, add some scallions, brush with a little oil and a pinch of salt, replace the wrap and roll everything into the dough.
Remove the wrap and roll it up, jellyroll style (See second picture from the top).
Fashion the roll into a curled up roll (see third picture from the top).
Replace the wrap on top and roll the pancake into a flat round again.
In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, fry each pancake for roughly three minutes on each side, until they get spots of golden brown.
You can brush the pan with some sesame oil if they’re sticking.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 large lime
1 red Thai chile or jalapeno, thinly sliced (2-3 more if you like it hot)
1 entire scallion, chopped
Mix and set aside in a bowl with a spoon.
Drain the beef, reserving a little of the liquid, and roughly cube it. You don’t want it shopped like hamburger, but if the pieces are too big, they’ll come sliding out of the pancake when you take a bite. Drizzle some of the beef liquid over the beef, straining out any chunky bits.
Any vegetables you put in tacos would be good to offer with this dish, like lettuce, radishes or red onion.
I chopped some peeled seeded cucumbers, more chopped scallions, chopped parsley and extra chopped jalapenos.
To plate: place a pancake on a plate, add some beef in the center and add some of the vegetables that I mentioned above.
Drizzle with some Nuoc Cham, fold in half and enjoy.
A Gewurtzraminer or Viognier would be great with this, but I served an inexpensive but beloved Zinfandel and enjoyed it - Double Black Zinfandel. (Don’t bother with the Double Black Cabernet - it’s like Manischewicz).