Flaky Chinese Pancakes with Chive Blossoms
Chinese pancakes are usually made with green onions (scallions) but I love how chive blossoms’ purple petals give the pancakes a burst of color and add a delicate flavor reminiscent of garlic and onions. Chive blossoms resemble powder puffs and are unwieldy to eat whole. Before using them in dishes, remove their central stems first and then pull apart the florets/petals.
If you grow chives in your garden, you will have an abundance of these darling little blossoms. If not, you can often find chive blossoms at farmers markets at springtime. You can also experiment with whatever alliums catch your eye at the market: ramps, leeks, spring onions, etc.
Prep time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes resting time
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4–6 as an appetizer
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
⅔ cup (175 milliliters) just-boiled water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling
1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil
½ cup (50 grams) chopped chives and chive blossom petals
Vegetable oil for frying
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Slowly pour in the water, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping the sides as you go. The dough will look like cheese curds. When the dough is cool enough to handle, knead into a ball with your hands. If the dough is still dry, add more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until it forms a smooth, soft ball and is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed. Lightly oil a bowl to prevent sticking and place the ball inside. Cover with a damp towel and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Lightly flour your work surface again and turn the dough out. Knead for another 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball.
Roll out one ball into a disk roughly 7 inches (17.5 centimeters) in diameter with a rolling pin. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and roll over the salted dough. Brush with a thin layer of sesame oil. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chives and chive blossoms all over the dough, leaving a ½-inch (1-centimeter) border on the edge. Roll the disk up like a jelly roll, then coil into a tight snail-like spiral, tucking the end under.
Flatten the spiral gently with your palm and roll it out again, this time into a ¼-inch- (0.5-centimeter)-thick pancake about 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter. If the chives start to poke out of the dough just tuck them back in. Set the finished pancake aside and repeat with the remaining dough. (Pancakes can be made ahead. Stack between layers of parchment paper and refrigerate for a few hours before frying.)
Prepare a paper-towel-lined plate or a rack over a baking sheet.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an 8-inch (20-centimeter) nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Fry the pancakes 1 at a time until golden brown and crispy on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula, swirl in 1 teaspoon oil and cook until the second side is golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. Jiggle the pan once in awhile. (Someone told me that this creates a flakier pancake. I’m not sure it works but it doesn’t hurt to try!) Transfer to the plate to soak up excess oil and cover to keep warm while you make the rest of the pancakes. Repeat. (Tip: Cast-iron skillets retain heat very well so adjust the heat and cook time as necessary.)
Cut each pancake into 6 wedges, sprinkle with more salt (optional) and serve immediately with Dipping Sauce.
· To freeze, stack pancakes between layers of parchment and wrap securely in plastic wrap or foil. Cook from frozen, 2 to 3 minutes longer on each side.
· Reheat cooked pancakes in a 450°F (230°C) oven for 4 to 5 minutes.
¼ cup (60 milliliters) soy sauce
¼ cup (60 milliliters) rice vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely sliced green onions, green parts only
Whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.