Recipe Idea: Scallion Pancakes

Sometimes, the mood strikes for that ideal, perfect snack.  Something chewy, but also crispy, and a little salty.  It should have a few distinct flavors to keep things interesting.  When we get that craving, we often reach for a scallion pancake, which has been described as an amazing snack, as well as a side dish and an appetizer.  How you choose to enjoy them is a matter of preference, but there is no debate in our minds that the best way to prepare them is on a Little Griddle griddle, due to a variety of factors that make them best cooked out-of-doors. Scallion Pancakes Before we discuss the "how" and the "where" of scallion pancakes, let's take a look at the "what" and the "why."  A scallion pancake (or "cong you bing" in Mandarin) is essentially a flat bread of Chinese origin made from a layered dough, which becomes crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and puffy throughout when cooked, usually in hot oil.  In any language, it is completely delicious, on its own or dipped into a tasty sauce. The "how" is easier than you might think, because the recipe for this treat is very easy: go to your favorite grocery store, and buy frozen scallion pancakes from the freezer case.  There are a number of very good pre-made options, so in this instance this dish does not need to be made from scratch.  If you want these to be completely homemade, or are not close to a store with a variety of Chinese ingredients, there are a number of very good recipes available online for you to check out, and they will perform equally well on the griddle. With an understanding of what we are making today, let's talk about "where" to make your pancakes, and the reasons that scallion pancakes are ideally cooked on a Little Griddle outdoor griddle.  First and foremost, because the pancakes are rather large, the griddle is an ideal cooking surface, because you can cook multiple pancakes at the same time, instead of a single pancake per frying pan indoors.  Because the griddle surface is flat, most of the oil you use in the cooking process will drain into your griddle's grease trough, as opposed to soaking into the pancake during pan-frying.  While not exactly health food, less oil ends up in the griddled pancake when compared to pan-frying, which also makes it crispier (and therefore tastier). Finally, because scallion pancakes require a little hot oil to cook properly, the best way to keep the smoke, smells and spatters of frying of your kitchen is to move the entire process outside to the griddle, where the pancakes can cook without bothering anyone.   When they are finished you can bring them in, but since everything tastes better outside, we recommend that you bring your cutting board with you and just eat them on the back porch.  Your taste buds will thank you. Here's how it works: Frozen Scallion Pancakes These are the frozen pancakes.  They look flat right now, but don't worry!  In a few minutes these will be golden-brown and delicious.  Cook them on medium heat so that the outside does not burn before the inside can finish cooking. Scallion Pancake Puffing Up After a couple of minutes, you can see that the scallion pancakes are starting to puff up - note that we are using almost no oil to griddle these.  In a frying pan, these would often be cooking in oil, instead of just using it to conduct heat from the cooking surface. Scallion Pancake Flipped This is how the pancakes look after we have given them a flip - mouth-watering!  Check out that crust developing on the edges. Scallion Pancakes Fresh off the Griddle This is how the pancakes will look right off of the grill.  You could pick them up with a paper towel and just go at it, but we would suggest just a few embellishments to complete the experience. Scallion Pancakes To finish the recipe, cut your pancakes into wedges, sprinkle a little salt on top, and serve immediately with either a hot mustard or a dipping sauce as a side, appetizer or snack.  The best time to make them is actually right now, because if you are like us this post has made you really hungry for scallion pancakes!  Let us know how yours turn out.

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