Scallion Pancakes with Meat Sauce
July 24, 2011
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In the US we tend to associate pancakes with breakfast but many cultures eat a variety of griddle cakes as a main meal. I came across the idea of scallion pancakes (for which I gladly credit Mark Bittman of the New York Times even though I completely changed his recipe) while looking for something to do with the abundance of these lovely onions from our garden. While Bittman used Chinese scallion cakes as a point of departure, I prepared a riff on Afghan scallion dumplings called aushak. These are easy to make and nicely filling. Do note, though, that they are decidedly and, perhaps shockingly to some, green.
- ½ pound ground beef
- 8 to 10 large scallions
- ½ teaspoon each mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kalonji (black cumin seeds), and fenugreek seeds
- 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon each ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, and Indian chili powder or cayenne (optional)
- ¼ cup tomato sauce, I use homemade marinara sauce
- Cooking oil, divided use
- Salt and pepper
- Plain yoghurt, divided use
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup besan (chickpea) flour
- ¼ cup white rice flour or all-purpose wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
Break up the ground meat into a non-stick skillet and brown over medium heat. Remove to a strainer to drain. Wipe out the skillet.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Wash and trim the scallions then separate the white parts from the green. Coarsely chop three quarters of the greens and finely chop the rest. Mince the white parts and set them aside.
Add the larger portion of scallion greens to the water and cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Puree the cooked scallions in food processor, adding just enough of the cooking liquid to allow the machine to do its work. Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of oil, and 1 tablespoon of yoghurt to the scallion puree and pulse to combine. Set aside.
Heat a bit of oil in the skillet and fry the seeds until fragrant. Add the minced white parts of the scallions, the garlic, and ginger. Sauté until softened. Sprinkle on the ground spices and cook for another minute or so. Return the meat to the pan and mix with the onion mixture. Stir in the tomato sauce and ½ cup of the scallion cooking liquid. Turn the heat down and simmer gently while you prepare the pancakes, adding a bit of the cooking liquid if the meat dries out.
Prepare a griddle or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Combine the flours and baking powder in a medium bowl along with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Mix in the scallion puree and, if needed, enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth batter. Lightly oil the hot griddle and make four medium-sized pancakes out of the batter. Turn when bubbles appear on the top. They should be nicely brown on both sides.
While the pancakes are cooking, stir ½ cup of yoghurt into the meat sauce and heat gently to warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve the pancakes hot with the meat sauce and perhaps a dollop of yoghurt.