August 9, 2021

Mandarin Pancakes 荷葉餅

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I love flatbreads of all kinds.  Probably cuz I love finger foods and these little breads are so wonderful for making snackable packages of finger food!  Perhaps you have tried these particular Mandarin Pancake flatbreads before while having Peking Duck or Moo Shu Pork: they are used to wrap up the cooked meat and veg into yummilicious little packages before consuming.  These Chinese breads look like and serve similar purposes with flatbreads from other cultures, like the chapati from India and the tortilla from Mexico, but actually these Chinese flatbreads have unique charm and feel all their own.  

And while traditionally this flatbread is used with specific Chinese dishes like the Peking Duck, etc., we like to modern it up by using the Mandarin Pancake to wrap up just about anything, be it warm and saucy or cool and spicy.  The great thing about these easy to make sesame scented Mandarin Pancakes 荷葉餅 is that they are soft and flexible yet strong enough to hold both food and sauce without leaking.  Make a bit of stir fry and,  instead of cooking up rice, just use these flatbreads to wrap up your stir fry and there's your dinner! 

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One distinctive trait of the mandarin pancake is that two flatbreads are rolled out together and cooked together and then peeled apart into two pancakes.  The result is that one side is 'dry cooked', showing a white blistered surface and some browned spots while the other side is 'steam cooked' resulting in a  smooth texture.  You can see the two different textures in the photo above.  Rolling and cooking like this is also to allow for a thinner pancake.

BTW I'd like to know why the heck they are called 'pancakes'!  It's so confusing cuz, honey, these ain't pancakes, these are flatbreads!

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Flatbreads are usually just flour, water, maybe some salt and definitely some bread magic.  They are one of the most basic of breads.  The mandarin pancake does have one major difference with other flatbreads in that boiling hot water is used.  The boiling hot water pre cooks the starch in the flour, making for a more tender and soft bread.  This is the major difference that we saw with this bread, it was much softer and tenderer than other flatbreads that we have made. 

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When I make flatbreads I like to measure out my dough so that I get same size breads at the end.  It's easy it you have a food scale.  Grab two of your  equal weight dough rounds and press to flatten.

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Roll out into thin circles.  As you can see I did not add any flour onto working surface.  Only because I didn't need to as it wasn't sticking.  Maybe something to do with using boiling water.  If your dough sticks, use a bit of flour, but try not to use too much as that will stiffen the dough.

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Here's the flavor secret-sesame oil!  Be sure to buy 100% sesame oil (like this one) and not the kinds that are mixed with other kinds of oil, thereby diluting the power of sesame.  Three drops are spread all over one side of one of the flatbreads.  I eventually ended up using my fingers to spread it out instead of the brush cuz it worked better.  Did you know that sesame oil is really good for your skin?  Though it does make you smell deliciously like a bakery.  Which is good? or bad?  Hah, not sure...

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After sesame oil is spread the other flat bread is placed over, making a sesame oil sandwich.  Then this doubled up flat bread is rolled out to it's final size.  Having the dough doubled allows you to roll the dough thinner than you could if it was just one layer.  The final thinness is up to your preference; it can be rolled really thin if you like.

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Flatbreads are usually cooked over a stove and this one is not an exception.  I like to use a cast iron pan as it, once heated through, gives off a steady dependable heat.  Slap the doubled up flatbread on and let cook til white blisters and some browned sports appear.  Flip and repeat for the other side.  

Remove and tuck mandarin pancake under a cloth.  This step is important.  It is both to keep the bread warm and more importantly to further steam the breads a bit, thus softening them.


Once all the mandarin pancakes are cooked, flip the stack over.  Starting with your first flatbread, peel apart each one into two flatbreads.  It should peel apart quite easily.  Fold each single mandarin pancake into half and half again, with smooth side inside, and tuck back under the warming cloth.  Your mandarin pancakes are done, ready and waiting to wrap up some delicious dinner!

Let us know what you think of these lovely flatbreads!

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Mandarin Pancakes Recipe 荷葉餅 
(adapted from Chinese Snacks Wei-Chuan Cook Book)  
(Makes 20 pancakes)  Prep Time: 30 mins  Cook Time: 10 mins

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 300g
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp sesame oil

Add in boiling water to flour and use wood spoon to immediately mix until thoroughly combined.  It will be crumb like.  Add cold water and mix until the dough comes together.  Cover and let rest for 10 mins.  Knead dough until smooth and then cover and let rest for another 10 mins.  

Divide dough into 20 equal pieces and roll into balls.  Cover with cloth.  Take out two dough rounds.  Press on working surface to check if dough is sticks.  If yes then sprinkle a bit of flour.  If dough doesn't stick then don't sprinkle flour.  Roll out to 4 inch pancake.  Add 3 drops sesame oil to one of the mandarin pancakes and spread all over top side.  Place other mandarin pancake over so sesame oil is between the two flatbreads and then further roll out the flatbread to 6 inch diameter circle.  Repeat for all dough balls.  Place the rolled out pancakes separately as they will stick to each other if stacked and cover with cloth. 

Slap doubled up flatbread on medium hot pan and let cook around 20-30 secs until bottom side turns white and browned spots appear.  While cooking use fingers to twirl pancakes to help them heat evenly.  Flip and repeat.  Remove from heat and place under folded kitchen towel to keep warm and to steam.  Repeat for all pancakes.  

Uncover the stack of cooked mandarin pancakes and flip over.  Take first one cooked and peel apart into two pancakes.  Fold each pancake in half and then in half again.  Place under cloth to keep warm.  Repeat for all mandarin pancakes.  Your pancakes are ready to wrap up some lunch-dinner!!

Store wrapped in fridge for 2 days or in freezer for several months.  Reheat by steaming for 30 secs from the fridge or 5 mins from the freezer.

More Chinese Breads at The Hong Kong Cookery:





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2 comments:

  1. So gut, so yummi!
    Vielen Dank für die Gramm Angaben.
    Viele Grüße sendet,
    Jesse-Gabriel aus Berlin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Jesse-Gabriel - Your welcome!😋ellen

    ReplyDelete