Wow. All you eat is… rice. – The housemates, x5
Taiwan is the home of měishí (美食), or ridiculously delightful food, and since I’m finally returning to the capital Taipei this summer, all I’ve been dreaming of is the Chinese food that I’ve been actively suppressing from my memory for the past couple of years [knife shorn beef noodles (niúròu dāo xiào miàn – 牛肉刀肖麵), dry fried green beans (gàn biǎn sìjì dòu – 干扁四季豆) being just two of the many dishes that I don’t have the patience to fiddle with Google Translate to find an adequate English translation for…]
By a horrible contrast, seven months of English catered food nearly killed me in my first year of university… OK, well I’m obviously still alive. And seven months worth of lactose heavy food made me realise I’m intolerant, so that could be considered a plus (?). But it wasn’t until this experience that I realised how Asian my eating habits are; I moved in with my housemates and they pointed out – and I realised – how much Chinese food I eat. To me, egg and tomato with some spring onion is a completely natural combination (fānqié chǎo dàn – 番茄炒蛋), vegetables should be fried-then-steamed – all in a pan of course – and rice done in a saucepan instead of a trusty rice cooker is practically sacrilegious…
But to the point with this post: in celebration of finalising my return trip to Asia, I’m making traditional cōng yóu bǐng 葱油饼 – or spring onion pancakes to share with you all. It’s super easy, so the perfect post-library 3am snack. It’s super quick, so you’ve no excuse not to try flipping at least one to be cultured. And the ingredients are so simple that, more likely than not, you can whack it together with what you’ve got in the cupboard.
3 sprigs spring onion
Lard (or alternative veg. oil/butter)
Salt and Pepper
Fine wheat flour ie. plain flour
1. Add water to plain flour until dough consistancy – should not stick to hands, but also shouldn’t crumble
2. Roll out a small pancake of dough, finely slice spring onion and scatter over with salt and pepper, and a dash of sesame oil
(alternatively add sesame oil at the end over cooked pancake – this is easier if you find step three difficult to mix)
3. Roll up the spring onions in the pancake into a ball of dough again, then re-roll flat to a half-centimetre spring onion pancake
4. Fry in lard until golden brown
5. Eat it up plain or with soya sauce… Delight.
If you get stuck, try this video by Taiwan Duck, who happily trundles through the language barrier to teach traditional Taiwanese recipes – I’ve never had it with sesame, but she’s pretty convinced. Bless.
ps. My housemate Tom has convinced me saucepan rice is OK.