Mandarin Pancakes

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Ingredients

  • 200 g (7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) boiling water
  • vegetable oil, to knead
  • sesame oil

Method

Mix the flour and boiling water together in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and continue to mix until you form a dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Then knead the dough on a lightly oiled surface for 10 minutes until smooth and silky.

Set half the dough aside and cover with plastic wrap. Roll the remaining dough into a sausage and cut into 16 even pieces. Use your fingers to flatten each piece into a 5 cm (2 inch) diameter circle. Brush half the pancakes with a little sesame oil, and then top each with one of the remaining pancakes so you have eight double pancakes. Repeat this process with the dough you have set aside. You should now have 16 double pancakes. Cover the pancakes with a damp cloth to stop them drying out.

Dust each double pancake with a little flour and roll out to form a circle about 13 cm (5 inches) in diameter. You can make perfectly round pancakes by trimming with a 12 cm ( inch) round cookie cutter if you like.

Heat a small heavy-based pan over medium heat and dry-fry the double pancakes for about 20 seconds, or until faint brown spots begin to appear. The heat of the pan is crucial here — too hot and the pancakes will brown too quickly and won’t cook through; too cold and the pancakes will cook for too long and will dry out. This stage will probably involve some trial and error, but with perseverance you will get the temperature just right. Flip the pancakes over and continue to cook until they begin to puff up, then remove from the pan and ‘clap’ the pancakes between your hands — this will force the air out of the centre and allow you to separate them. Gently peel the pancakes apart, place on a plate and cover with a damp cloth. The pancakes can be frozen at this point if you wish.

When ready to eat, wrap the pancakes in a thin tea towel on a plate. Put the plate in a bamboo steamer over a pot or a wok of rapidly boiling water, cover with the lid and steam the pancakes for 4–5 minutes, or until all the pancakes are piping hot. If they aren’t hot enough they will be unpalatable. Serve with the crispy Sichuan duck.