I honestly did not think I'd have time to do a Pancake Day themed recipe this year, but when Waitrose got in touch with me about creating a Chinese pancake recipe for their internationally themed pancake feature, I realised that instead of taking the time out to make something sweet I could incorporate pancakes into my weekday meal rota. A couple of years ago my Father and I over the space of two days made the whole crispy aromatic duck from scratch, and we also made the Chinese thin pancakes from scratch too.
Now, I think we both decided after that exercise that life is too short to do the whole duck again, but making my own Chinese pancakes was a skill that I was happy I learnt. The pancakes here are slightly thicker than those originals, because those were very fiddly and I think slightly thicker pancakes are easier to hold if you like to stuff them full like I do. This recipe will make a great main meal for Pancake Day night before dessert, because I don't think I'd ever manage to not have the traditional sugar and fresh lemon juice crepes for dessert. Recently I've also taken to mixing fresh thyme into my sugar for a grown up twist. Instead of having a big duck or doing the whole roasting lark, I've found for a manageable treat to serve just you one duck leg, rubbed with Chinese Five Spice, roasted and then shredded with two forks, skin and all will suffice.
- 1 Duck Leg
- 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
- Freshly Ground Sea Salt
- Waitrose Hoisin Sauce
- 1/4 Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 2 Spring Onions, shredded
- 115g (4 oz) Plain Flour
- 80ml (5 1/2 tbsp) Boiling Water
- 1/4 tsp Vegetable Oil
- Waitrose Toasted Sesame Oil
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (335 degrees fahrenheit). Sprinkle the Chinese 5 Spice over the skin of the duck leg and place on a foil lined baking tray. Roast in the oven for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, you can make your pancakes and prepare your vegetables. Mix the flour, boiling water and vegetable oil together to create a dough. Knead it into a ball and wrap in cling film. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Shred the spring onions and matchstick the cucumber.
Knead the dough until smooth, this should take about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 8. Heat a big dry frying pan to a medium heat. Flatten each dough ball into a patty and brush half of them with a lot of Toasted Sesame Oil. Press an oiled patty to a dry one to make them stick together, and roll each one out until thin. This helps make thinner pancakes than you can physically roll, because the oil will allow them to separate once cooked and therefore less fragile. If you are in a silly student flat like me and don't have a rolling pin, use an empty wine bottle; I'm sure you'll have loads of those hanging about! However, this is my excuse for why my pancakes are not round, though I know full well I can't roll pizza dough into a circle to save my life, either. Bake these thin rounds one at a time in the dry pan for a few minutes each side until the puff up and have a few brown spots on each side. Remove from the pan and while still hot, but cool enough to touch carefully find the edges and prize apart the two halves. This does take a bit of practice, I warn you, but the more oil between them without making a mess the better.
Remove the duck from the oven and using two forks, shred the whole thing off the bone including the skin. Serve hot wrapped up in the pancakes with the cucumber, spring onions and liberal amounts of Hoisin Sauce (the best Chinese flavour ever!)
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What are your plans this year for Pancake Day? Are you going to go down the traditional route, or are you going to make something a little bit different. I feel making something non traditional for Pancake Day is a bit like not having a turkey on Thanksgiving, some people get excited about it, and some people think it is a real crime!