More chives than you know what to do with? Have no fear!
recipe adapted from Yi Reservation.
for the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp golden syrup (or honey)
1 tsp grated ginger (or more or less)
1/4 tsp minced fresh hot pepper* (or more or less)
1 tsp minced fresh chives
for the pancakes:
3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of salt
3/4 - 1 c. hot water (tap hot)
2-3 c. chopped chives, including buds and/or flowers
To make the dipping sauce, mix together vinegar, soy sauce, syrup or honey, ginger and hot peppers and let stand for at least half an hour. Sprinkle chives over surface just before serving.
*We had some unusually hot serrano peppers on hand, so we used those and it worked nicely. If we'd had those lovely little hot thai chiles, we would have used those. Regardless, something with more heat than flavour is what you are aiming for.
Mix flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl; add hot water a little at a time, mixing it in as you do so. Only add as much as you need to make a soft dough. Knead a few times (5 or 6) to smooth the dough. Form into a ball. Put a bit of sesame oil on your hands and rub over dough. Cover bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.
Lightly oil your work surface and rolling pin. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, form a log with the dough and roll out to a thin, oblong sheet.
The tricky part of this operation is rolling the pancake but don't panic: there are photos below to help illustrate the process.
Rub the surface of the dough lightly with sesame oil. Sprinkle 1/3 - 1/2 c. of chives over the surface of the dough. Roll up tightly from the long end, making a log. Coil the log around itself making a spiral. Keep the long seam on the inside of the coil. Roll the spiral into a flattened pancake, approximately 7 inches in diameter (or to whatever thickness you prefer).
|Left: rolling the chives into the pancake from the long end. Right: the spiral resulting from coiling the long roll on itself. Center: the flattened pancake ready for frying.|
The oiling and the multiple rolling is what makes the flaky layers in this pancake. Chives may break through the surface, but don't sweat it. If your aesthetic sensibility can't handle this, you can roll your original sheet less thinly, or use fewer chives. Bear in mind, however, this recipe is about making use of the bounty of chives in the garden; the pancake is simply as a vessel for the chives, a delightful chive-delivery system if you will, so we've really packed them in.
Heat some sunflower oil (or canola or avocado or lard, whatever you like to cook in) in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat erring on the side of medium. Cook each pancake until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side.
Cut into wedges with scissors, and serve with dipping sauce.
~~~Ever since we made scallion pancakes for the first time (just this past winter, I have no explanation for how it took so long to discover this gem of a food), we have been looking for an excuse to make them again. Too many chives? Perfect.
There are literally tens of thousands of recipes out there for scallion pancakes. What we liked about Yi Reservation's was the relatively low cooking temperature making it easier to get a crispy exterior but still cook it through without burning the outside. Also, we like his ambitious project and, being cat owners ourselves, we really like that his profile photo includes a cat. There are worse ways of picking a recipe, right?
Chives will grow successfully pretty much anywhere... in the ground, in a pot, in dry conditions, in wet conditions, in the far north (far-ish, anyway) and the deep south. They are perennial and need very little maintenance. Seriously just about anyone can grow chives, so everyone should try it. The thing is, of course, eventually there are more chives than you know what to do with. Don't worry about it. For one thing, if you alter your mindset to see chives as a green vegetable rather than simply a spice or a garnish, you can really use them... in recipes like this pancake, by the cupful in quiche or salads, or stuff them in the belly of a trout. And if you can't get past the garnish-mentality hurdle, then be assured chives make a nice ornamental. The flowers are really pretty and, though smaller, are much cheaper than the purely ornamental alliums. Grow them in your flower beds like we do!