Sunday, October 2, 2016

Vietnamese Pancake

I'm thrilled to walk through the new H-Mart in Hicksville, NY. This cavernous store is an Asian foodie wonderland. As I walk the aisles, I'm treated to samples of mung bean pancakes, bulgogi, fish cakes and more weird but delicious Korean food. The seafood and meat counters are brimming with fresh food. But the star of the show is the vegetable section. I am stunned with the mushroom display. My hand reaches in almost unconsciously to pick small round top Shimejis.  I love their flavor and texture. Normally I buy shitakes, but plentiful and cute Shimejis magically appear in my cart. I reach for bean sprouts. And as I put them in my basket I know what I will be making for dinner....pancakes Asian style.

I make one large pancake, the most effortless way. You could make individual portions but that means using a small pan, making one pancake at a time. The large pan is most convenient. You cut the finished pancake as you would a pie or pizza. Start by mixing rice flour, eggs and water, letting the batter rest for a short while. I saute mushrooms and scallions. Shredded carrots make a perfect addition. But I have roasted carrots in the fridge. You could add any vegetable of choice. Red peppers have eye appeal and taste. Bean sprouts are sauteed along with the veggies  Shrimp and ham add an optional meat component. The batter is then poured over the veggies. Covered, the pan is left on a low flame for 15-20 minutes. A blizzard of cilantro and basil finish the pancake. 

A salty spicy sauce comes together with soy, chiles, sugar and lime. 

Serves 2-4

2 Eggs
1/3 cup Rice Flour
1 teaspoon Sugar 
A pinch of Kosher Salt 
3/4 cup Water
2 Garlic cloves
5-6 Scallions
1 packet Shimeji Mushrooms or Shitake Mushrooms
1 cup shredded Carrots 
3/4 cup Bean Sprouts
1/2 cup cooked Shrimp (optional)
1/4 cup shredded Ham (optional)
2 tablespoons Canola Oil 
1/4 cup Thai or Italian Basil
2 tablespoons Cilantro 

Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce 
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2-3 Green Chiles 
1 tablespoon Lime juice

Make the batter by whisking the eggs in a bowl.

Add rice flour, sugar, salt and water and whisk well. Let batter sit for 1/2 hour.

Mince garlic cloves finely.

Trim and thinly slice scallions, using both white and green parts.

If you are using Shimeji mushrooms, break them apart gently. If you are using shiitakes, remove the stems and cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Heat canola oil in a 8-9 inch nonstick saucepan.

Add garlic and saute for 20 seconds.

Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes till cooked.

Drop carrot into the pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

Saute bean sprouts for 30 seconds.

Pour batter over veggies, making sure it coats the veggies.

Arrange shrimp and/or ham over batter if using them.

Cover and let the pancake cook over low heat for 15 minutes. 

Make dipping sauce. Mix soy and sugar.

Cut green chiles into thin slices and add to soy sauce.

Add lime juice and mix well.

Lift the edge of the pancake. The underside should have crisped up and be light brown in color.

Sprinkle basil  and cilantro over pancake.

Slide pancake onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve with dipping sauce.

This pancake could well be an appetizer or a side. A few drizzles of the dipping sauce over a slice and you are in for a heavenly bite of soft pancake, crunchy veggies and that umami flavor.