Saturday, 30 May 2015

Big Supper in Little Pancake!

Fritella Salata con Spinaci Asiatiche & Germogli di Soia
Chinese-Chive Pancake with Vietnamese Water Spinach, Bean Sprouts, Ginger, Shrimp Paste & Chili


As simple as this dish is... As simple as it looks and sounds... It truly was one of the best Asian-influenced meals I have ever made... Or eaten, for that matter!

Just a simple pancake with a spinach filling... But not just any old pancake and not just any old spinach! Read on and find out, how easy it is to making something that is so tasty it will be a case of love at first bite!

Thankfully, when I discovered this wonderful "water spinach" at Mrs Wongs stand at the market hall today, her assistant immediately began to explain to me how he likes to prepare it the most- a Vietnamese method involving shrimp paste, which I fortunately already had at home and bean sprouts, which I took home with me.

It also called for garlic, which I replaced by wonderful Chinese chives, which I also "discovered" for the first time today. I was told that their flavor lies between regular chives and ramps... And thought they sounded perfect for the little plan that was beginning to form at the back of my head...

And yes... I can tell you in retrospect that they turned out to be perfect indeed!


So, for my nice, big pancake, I needed 1 bunch of water spinach (which you should be able to find at your local Asian market), 1 shallot, 1 egg, 1 chili pepper, 2 handfuls of bean sprouts, 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste, a little fresh ginger and a little pepper, Thai fish sauce, sesame oil and hoisin sauce for seasoning. And a sprinkle of sesame seeds... Just because...


They are simple ingredients, but it is the combination of all of their great flavors together that is so delicious and satisfying. It caught me by surprise how incredibly tasty this turned out to be... I am pretty sure it will be the same for all of you!

I cut the chili into slices... How much and whether you leave or remove the seeds depends on how hot and spicy it is and of course on your own preference! The shallot in slices and the ginger and Chinese chives finely chopped... These were all of the "fiddly bits" and the rest was equally easy as well!


The pancake was easier still... To make it, I simply added 2 tablespoons of flour to the egg and a good tablespoon of the finely chopped Chinese chives.


I stirred these together until they became a smooth paste, then added a little fish sauce as seasoning and a little water to thin down the mixture to the right consistency for a pancake batter.


I added plenty of freshly ground black pepper and set it aside to rest for a few minutes before frying.


And then I started preparing the spinach, which I washed thoroughly and allowed to drip-dry a little whilst I began frying the other ingredients together in a little sesame oil.


Once the shallot had turned translucent, I added the spinach on top and put on the lid for it to steam for 3-4 minutes.


After 2-3 minutes the spinach will have wilted down considerably and you can stir- fry it nicely, tossing it constantly to get it well and evenly cooked. Give it another 3-4 minutes and add the shrimp paste and a little more sesame oil- and you are almost there!


Last but not least of course, are the bean sprouts, which only need 1-2 minutes of cooking time at the most... You don't want to overdo them and lose that nice crunch!


Spoon the spinach and bean sprout mixture on top of your pancake, fold it shut, add a drizzle of hoisin for seasoning and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds for that finishing touch... And prepare your taste buds for a treat and yourselves for a pleasant surprise!

And... Enjoy!

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