Have you ever made a laminated dough? Laminated doughs are the ones that have alternating thin layers of fat and thin layers of dough, resulting in a very flaky, delicate end product. Pâte feuilletée, or puff pastry, is one such dough.
I made puff pastry once, just to see if I could do it. It was in the heat of a Santa Monica summer, and I had trouble with the butter melting and not having enough counter space for all that rolling, but I did it. Every cookbook, blog, and cooking show I’d ever seen suggested that I just buy puff pastry, and now I knew why. It was fun to tackle the challenge, but honestly, it’s not worth the time and effort when there are quality all-butter puff pastry doughs that you can just buy.
But I’ve never really given up the fascination with laminated doughs. It’s a brilliant technique that creates a texture that isn’t reproducible any other way. That’s why I was so excited to find this recipe, which creates a beautiful layered dough without the painstaking folding and prolonged chilling needed for pâte feuilletée. The fact that it uses not butter, but another of my favorite fats, sesame oil, adds to the appeal.
I like them rather thin and flaky, cracker-like, for snacking, but rolled a little thicker, these would make a perfect appetizer for an Asian-inspired meal.
Spring Onion Pancakes with Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
Adapted from Gilt Taste.
Makes 12 pancakes.
For the pancakes:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 to 1 cup warm water
2 tablespoon rendered bacon fat
3 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup spring onions, bulbs and light green parts of stalks, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil, as needed, for frying
For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
1 tablespoon minced spring onion (green stalks only)
In a large bowl, combine the flour and water with a wooden spoon, adding more water if the dough looks too dry. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the bacon fat, sesame oil, spring onions, garlic, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over low for 5-6 minutes, until the fat is melted and the onions have become translucent.
Cut the dough into four equal parts, then cut each of those parts into thirds, making twelve portions. Roll one portion into a large thin rectangle, around 8″x10″ (but it’s not necessary to be exact), dusting with a little flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire rectangle with some of the sesame oil and onion mixture, making sure to spread out the bits of onion evenly. Starting with one of the longer ends, roll up the rectangle into a tight log, then roll the log into a spiral, pinching the end to seal it to the body of the spiral. Roll out the spiral into a thin circle — thicker if you want your pancakes rather chewy, thinner for a more cracker-like consistency. Place the rolled pancake under a kitchen towel to rest while you proceed to fill and roll out the remaining pancakes.
Combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and let rest while you fry the pancakes.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, then brush with a little vegetable oil. Fry the pancakes for about a minute on each side, until blistered and golden brown. Cut each pancake into sixths. Serve hot, with the dipping sauce.
If you don’t have any rendered bacon fat handy, just replace it with vegetable oil.
You could replace the spring onions in this recipe with nearly any member of the allium family — leeks would be fantastic, as would caramelized onions for a completely different experience.
Music to cook by: You Belong With Me [Butch Walker // You Belong With Me]