Szechuan Peppercorn Pancakes with Scallions and Roast Duck Breast
Remember that one time when I made Duck and Mushroom Udon and I may have blathered on Facebook about looking forward to the leftover duck being wrapped warmly in a scallion pancake? Well, I did say it and this is proof that I've kept my word.
Hot noodle soup makes for several special nights of dining, but even I have to change things up once in awhile. I can never stray far from Asian cuisine, though, and needing a different venue to showcase the crispy duck breast, I recalled a scallion pancake recipe from the delightfully entertaining Chuck Hughes (of Chuck Eats the Street and Chuck's Day Off on the Cooking Channel). Admittedly, Chuck makes everything look easy, but these cakes were easy enough to conquer without long proof-times or tricky rolling techniques.
Making bread makes me nervous. My sister is a master baker. I happily eat everything she masterfully bakes and limp my way through recipes when bread is required. Handily, recipes like this bolsters those of us with less than stellar baking skills. I did it, and you can do it.
Chuck adds a unique ingredient to his pancakes that I was excited to use as well - the tongue-numbing Szechuan Peppercorn. A common spice used in Asian dishes, it is derived from the Zanthoxylum plant and regardless of its name, isn't closely related to either black pepper or chili peppers. They have a unique flavor and aroma with slightly lemony overtones. The tingly sensation on your tongue comes from its 3% of hydroxy alpha sanshool (say that three times fast!). Most often, you'll toast the little seedpods then crush them into a powder using a mortar and pestle. If you can't access these peppercorns, just leave them out, but they a unique component to the pancakes which I really like.
Chuck's recipe produced a final product that I found a bit too sticky for rolling and even patting out, so I've adjusted the ingredients a tad. Feel free to start out with less flour and add more if you need to. Below is the list of ingredients I used from Chuck's Recipe, along with my adaptations, with some assembly instructions following.
Szechuan Peppercorn Pancakes with Scallions and
Roast Duck Breast
Adapted from Chuck Hughes
Yelds 4 servings (2 pancakes)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed, toasted Szechuan peppercorns
1 scallion, minced
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Cooked duck breast, cut into strips (I used leftover Asian-marinated crispy duck breast from my Udon Noodle Soup recipe)
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into thin strips
4 scallions, cut into thin strips
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and Szechuan peppercorns, then stir in the scallions. Drizzle the boiling water slowly but begin to stir the mixture immediately with a wooden spoon until it just comes together. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it set for at least two hours at room temperature.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into eight equal parts. Here, you're going to either use a lightly-floured rolling pin to roll the portions into six-inch circles, or you can pat the dough out with your hands on the floured surface and get the same effect. Layer the pancakes on pieces of parchment paper to keep them from sticking.
Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan (I like to use cast-iron when I'm griddling bread) over medium-low heat. Add a pancake and cook until browned on both sides. It will take about two minutes for the first side, but the second side will cook a bit faster. Continue with the remainder of your pancakes. I find that when using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, I don't have to use much oil, so I can simply layer the pancakes on a plate and keep them warm in the oven - no need for paper towels to absorb a lot of grease that way.
To assemble, layer the pancakes with thinly sliced duck, scallions and cucumbers. I like to finish mine with a small teaspoon of hoisin sauce and sriracha. I highly recommend Jojo's sriracha out of New York - it has an intense vinegar flavor that I'm mad about.
Snack away, but don't forget to share!