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MUSHU PANCAKES

A delicate envelope for your most flavorful dishes

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup flour (for rolling out)
  • Vegetable oil (as needed to season the griddle)

Sift the 2 cups flour into a mixing bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated and a dough has formed. Put dough in mixer with dough hook. Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and soft to the touch.

Rinse out the mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for at least 15 minutes, or as long as 3 hours. Place a small dish of sesame oil near your work surface. Cut off a piece of the dough, about a third of the total; leave the rest covered.

Press the dough into a flat rectangle and roll it to no more than 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut an even number of circles out of the rolled-out dough. Place the scraps with the covered dough. Paint one half of the circles with a thin layer of sesame oil and top with the other unoiled circles.

With a rolling pin, roll out one double circle of dough until it is a uniform 1/16 inch thick. As you work, roll from the center out and lift and turn the dough a quarter-turn or less after each stroke of the rolling pin. This way you can keep a circular shape as you gradually make the circle larger and thinner. Don't worry if a bit of oil leaks out as you work. Roll out the remaining pairs of dough; before you start on the last pair, heat a seasoned griddle to medium-high heat.

Place a dough circle in the heated skillet and let it cook for 1 minute. You should see a slight bubbling in the top surface as steam builds up between the layers; the first side should be speckled with brown spots before you flip. Turn over and cook for another 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from pan with spatula. Split apart the two layers (they may have already started to separate near the end of their cooking), and wrap in a towel. Repeat with remaining circles.

Roll out and cook remaining scraps, keeping the cooked pancakes well wrapped in a cloth. Serve warm immediately after cooking. Cooled pancakes may be reheated by steaming in a bamboo steamer. Makes 20 servings.

Chef Christopher Sotkovsky


Thursday, January 16, 2003

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