Even though there’s some snow on the ground, it’s rapidly melting as the March sun beats down upon it with increasing vigor. I was going to shoot a bunch of pictures of all the green goodness that’s popping up all over, but those will have to wait for a bit. Meantime, though, a post about my favorite of all the wild spring edibles.
Milo loves scallion pancakes. LOVES them. But since I don’t love the food from the local Chinese place, we don’t get them very often. Before the snow, when I was busy out in the garden cleaning the beds and planting peas, favas, and two hooped beds of salady stuff and brassicas, I also helped myself to the abundant scallions from the late summer planting. Uncovered, they laugh at winter’s attempts to crush them. They’re not as pretty as they were in the fall, but after stripping away a layer or two they’re bright green and perfect. I love having food in the garden before I have planted a single seed, and when the rest of the ingredients are flour, water, and a little oil, there is no earthly reason not to make them yourself.
At this very moment, I have access to the scallions, wild chives, and domestic chives, all within feet of my house. And there’s snow on the ground. I wrote about the wild garlic chives here, and I have mentioned them elsewhere as well since I love them so much. Besides the fact that they grow twice each year, the fall growth sticks around all winter long; I have gone out and cut them in darkest January when they are not growing but not dead either. Come Imbolc, when the sun climbs dramatically higher in the sky each day, they explode with new growth before anything else begins to stir. Nettles and garlic mustard are good too, but these guys win. And they’re everywhere; those dark chivey-looking clusters at the edge of your lawn, if they smell like garlic, are found money. And unlike their relative the ramp, the’re not endangered, so they have that going for them. Which is nice.
The version in the photos used the garden-variety scallions, but these would kill with the garlic chives as well, or green garlic (ours is several inches tall already) or leeks or anything in the family, or any combination thereof. You add a cup of boiling water to two cups of AP flour and a fat pinch of salt in the food processor with the dough blade and buzz it all together until it coheres. Form it into a ball and wrap it for an hour or overnight. Cut the ball into four equal pieces, roll them into balls, and then roll them out into pancakes. Brush each one with sesame oil and sprinkle the alliums of your choice on top, then roll them up like a cigar. Pinch the ends, and coil each one into a tight spiral.
Smoosh the spirals down a bit, then roll them back out into pancakes again. All the layers you just created—alternating between wet dough and oil—are similar to the striations of butter and flour one gets in puff pastry, so the result will be nice and flaky. Fry them in a bit of oil, cut them into wedges, and dunk them into a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, and a bit more of the sesame oil. A squirt of sriracha or similar is not the worst idea. For a typically exhaustive and enlightening post, check out Kenji’s treatment of scallion pancakes. He advocates doing the brush/roll/coil/roll thing a couple of times before adding the scallions for maximum flakiness. However you choose to make them, and whichever allium you fill them with, and whatever sort of sauce you concoct to dunk them in, your homemade version will kick the ass of your local takeout joint. And that’s the whole point.
Go out and grab some alliums; if you live anywhere in the Northeast they’re out there for the finding.