Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Waking up to Red Bean Pancakes

Okay, so I didn't so much "wake up" to pancakes as "wake up" and make the pancakes myself... but hey the important thing is that I had pancakes for breakfast! I was yearning for something sweet, warm and paste-y for breakfast. At first I planned on heating up a left-over lotus paste bao from the freezer, but then I thought, "It takes too long to steam, and I wanna eat breakfast now!" So what did I do? I nuked the sucker in the microwave... 2 minutes on defrost and then an additional minute on regular. The result... a fluffy bao with a rock-hard (literally burnt from the inside) center. So I turned to a recipe for home-made red bean pancakes.

Hong Dou Sa Biang (Red Bean Pancakes) serves 8
courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Savouring China

- 1 egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for frying
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 6 oz. sweetened red bean paste (I used packaged paste, purchased from Daizo)
- 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar (optional)

1. Combine the egg and water. Add the flour, cornstarch and 2 tbsp of oil until a very thin batter is formed. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Place cast-iron or nontsick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1/2 tsp each of vegetable oil and sesame oil, and rub the inner surface of the pan with a ball of paper towel to moisten evenly.

3. Pour 1/5th of the batter into the pan and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly (and thinly) over the bottom, much like preparing a crepe. Cook over medium-high heat until set on the bottom, about 30 seconds.

4. Carefully spread 1/5th red bean paste across the center of the pancake, then fold the sides and ends over it to form a rectangle.

5. Use a flat spatula to spread out the filling evenly. Cook for 20 seconds to brown the underside, then turn and cook, again pressing gently, to brown the other side, about 30 seconds.

6. Repeat process until all the batter and filling is used.

7. Cut the pancakes into slices 3/4 inch wide, arrange on a serving platter, and dust with the sugar. Best served warm or at room temperature.

This recipe is quick and pretty straight forward, plus the results are amazing. The batter may seem thin, but once you start frying up the pancakes you'll realize that it's just right. The pancakes' texture is similar to that of a crepes'; and similar to crepes, don't be discouraged if your first one doesn't turn out perfect. Martha Stewart said that the first crepe always turns out imperfect, and mine was not exception...

My sisters aren't too fond of red bean paste *gasp* I know, how can they not love this stuff? But my parents (who actually did wake up to these pancakes) found them a delightful alternative to plain old toast and store-bought frozen waffles. I gobbled down quite a few of these babies... I better stop cooking :P

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