An ingenious process transforms flour and water into the light wrappings used for such dishes as Peking Duck, Mu Shu Pork, or Roast Suckling Pig. Stuffed with scallions and fried, they make Onion Cakes, which are positively addictive. The process breaks down into three simple parts: making the dough; flattening chunks of dough into patties and rolling pairs of patties into pancakes; then baking the pancakes in a dry skillet. The pancakes freeze well, so they can be made in advance and used any time. Five minutes in a steamer warms them from room temperature, 10 minutes from a frozen state. Rolling out two pancakes at a time keeps the pancakes thin and moist.
As with other doughs, making pancakes is easy once you acquire the feel. This comes from experience. To get the proper consistency—light but chewy, not as thin as a crepe but not as heavy as a tortilla; thick enough to separate after cooking but not so thick that the pancake overpowers the food it accompanies—practice before the actual meal preparation. You will find your pancakes far superior to store-bought ones. The quantities used here will make twenty to thirty pancakes.
© 1981 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.