A little something for Chinese New Year.
The Chinese diaspora is large and varied. While we’re all familiar with the North American experience, I’ve become fascinated with the history of those who went elsewhere: mainly the Caribbean and Africa. My own family, from my mother’s side, are Sino-Mauritians. What it means, really, is that our family feasts can be mistaken for a multicultural potluck. We eat: Curry and biryanis, noodles – a definite must for birthdays, nian gao (Chinese New Year Cake), napolitaines (a sandwich cookie with guava jam), brioche breads, alouda glace (Indo-Mauritian drink with rose syrup and agar gar), pork belly with preserved mustard green, congee, cassava cakes, semolina cakes, ‘chili’ cakes (a literal translation of Gateau Piment: ground split peas and minced chili shaped into balls and then deep-fried), kulfi malai, massepain (a variant of pound cake), AND The Rougaille (the national dish, a tomato sauce-stew that goes best with plain rice). It’s quite a hodge-podge of British and French colonial influence mixed with Indian, Chinese and African cuisines. It’s Mauritian.
What I’ve made are green onion pancakes. I first had them at a Chinese restaurant here in Toronto, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. They’re flaky, crispy pan-fried dough interlaced with slices of green onions or scallions. I usually order them as a side with steamed dumplings, but for lunch at home I had them with scrambled eggs.
180g all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons fine grain sea salt
3 green onions or scallions, green parts only, trimmed and cut into small rounds
Oil, for frying
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the salt. Set aside.
Bring the water to a boil.
Slowly add the boiled water to the flour and scallion mixture. Briefly knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together. If the dough is too dry, add tablespoonfuls of hot water until a soft dough forms. (My dough was quite shaggy at first, but after a few persistent kneads, it finally came together.)
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface until soft and smooth, about ten minutes.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Once rested, divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces.
Take one piece and roll it out as thin as you can. Sprinkle green onions on top and roll the dough like a cinnamon roll…or a cigar. Once that’s done, coil it and pinch the end together. Flatten it with your palm and proceed to roll it out with a rolling pin. The thickness of your pancakes is entirely up to you.
Once all the pieces are rolled-out, heat a stir-fry pan, cast-iron skillet, or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high. Pour in about ¼-inch (6mm) of oil into the pan or skillet. Dust any excess flour off of the dough, and shallow fry each side of the pancake until light golden brown (about 1-minute for each side). Add more oil to the skillet as needed, and repeat the same for the remaining pancake.