The minimal effort it takes to get pancakes into the pan and the ease with which they slip out of it, combined with the pure joy they give everyone, put them at the top of the breakfast chart in my home. Yet there’s so much more to pancakes than a drizzle of lemon and a dusting of sugar. In fact, some multi-layered savoury delicacies from around the world are based on an egg batter that holds together ingredients and soaks up flavours in a way that is hard to resist.
Coconut and turmeric omelettes (pictured above)
These are much thinner than your average omelette – more like crepes, in fact, but without the flour. They are meant to be eaten like bánh xèo (Vietnamese pancakes), stuffing the herb salad into the omelettes and dipping the whole thing into the sauce, but you can also simply make the omelettes without the sauce and salad and serve with a squeeze of lime.
Prep 30 min
Cook 35 min
For the omelettes
90ml sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 green chillies, finely chopped (deseeded if you don’t like heat)
3 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped (180g)
5g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¾ tsp ground turmeric
1 lime, grated to get 1 tsp zest, then cut into wedges to serve
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk (70% solids)
For the dipping sauce
1-2 pink grapefruits, juiced to get 80ml, plus 40g pulp
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1½ tbsp mirin
1 tbsp lime juice
2 red chillies, finely chopped (deseeded if you don’t like heat)
For the salad
3 spring onions, finely sliced into 5cm strips
10g mint leaves
10g coriander, picked leaves with some stem attached
60g breakfast radishes, finely sliced
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large, nonstick frying pan for which you have a lid, on a medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chillies, shallots, ginger and half a teaspoon of salt, and fry for eight to 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the turmeric, lime zest, eggs, coconut milk and half a teaspoon of salt until smooth and combined. Stir this through the cooled shallot mixture, then transfer to a measuring jug.
Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce, including the pulp, with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, then toss all the salad ingredients together.
Wipe the pan clean and return it to a high heat. Once very hot, add one and a half teaspoons of oil. Pour in about 100g of batter and swirl to coat most of the pan. Fry for a minute and a half, until the bottom is golden brown, then cover with the lid and continue to cook for another 20-30 seconds, or until the top is set. Transfer to a tray lined with baking paper and keep warm. Continue with the remaining oil and batter in the same way until you have eight omelettes.
Carefully arrange the omelettes on a large platter, browned side up – they may fold naturally. Serve hot with the salad, dipping sauce and lime wedges alongside.
Prawn and kimchi okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki are a savoury Japanese pancake made with cabbage and various other add-ins, and topped with sweet and savoury sauce. You can find ready-made okonomiyaki sauce in most Asian supermarkets, or you can make your own as suggested below. The sauce is quite sweet, so feel free to reduce the amount of honey the recipe calls for.
Prep 25 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter
For the pancakes
110g plain flour
25g tapioca flour
¼ tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
90ml dashi, fridge-cold
¼ head white cabbage, core discarded, thinly shredded and cut into 1½cm pieces (180g)
10g ginger, peeled and finely grated
15g coriander, roughly chopped
½ small sweet potato, skin-on and roughly grated (100g)
180g extra-large, sustainably-sourced raw king prawns, peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
100g good-quality kimchi (store-bought), roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
6 spring onions, thinly sliced (90g)
60ml sunflower oil
For the sauce
1½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1½ tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp runny honey
1½ tbsp mayonnaise (or Japanese mayonnaise)
2 tsp nori sprinkle, or 1 sheet of nori finely blitzed in a food processor to get 2 tsp
Put all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute, stirring continuously, then set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Add the eggs and dashi, and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Add the cabbage, ginger, coriander, sweet potato, prawns, kimchi and three quarters of the spring onions, and mix to combine.
Put two medium frying pans on a medium heat, adding a tablespoon of oil to each. Once hot, add a quarter of the pancake mixture (about 250g) to each pan and spread into a circle with a spatula to cover the base of the pan (about 18cm), pushing down to flatten. Cook for 10 minutes, or until golden on one side. Carefully flip over and cook for another six minutes, or until golden on the other side and cooked through the centre. Repeat with the remaining oil and batter, making four pancakes in total, and divide between four plates.
Brush the tops with the sauce, then drizzle with the mayonnaise in a zig-zag motion (a squeezy bottle is best for this). Sprinkle with the remaining spring onion and the nori, and serve with some extra kimchi alongside.
Lamb broth with pancake “noodles”
The southern German flaedlesuppe (or frittatensuppe in Austria) is the inspiration for this dish, where strips of crepes are served inside a clear broth, softening and expanding as they soak up the liquid. Thanks to Christiane MacKenzie for handing over the real-deal pancake recipe (minus the coriander). Any good-quality broth, meat- or vegetable-based, can be used here, but I urge you try this deliciously lemony broth, which can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to three days.
Prep 25 min
Cook 3 hr
For the soup
1.5 kg bone-in lamb neck pieces
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced (150g)
3 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-2 dried red chillies (the finger-length variety)
500g carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into 3cm chunks
75ml lemon juice
20g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
For the pancakes
250g plain flour
250ml whole milk
50ml sparkling water
10g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra chopped to serve
40g unsalted butter, cut into 8 x 5g pieces, for frying
Pat the lamb dry, then season all over with three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large, cast-iron saucepan for which you have a lid, on a medium-high heat. When hot, fry half the lamb for about six to seven minutes, until browned all over. Transfer to a tray and repeat with the remaining lamb.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the onion, cinnamon and star anise, and cook for three minutes more, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and dried chillies and cook until fragrant – about a minute. Put the lamb back in, add 1.7 litres of water, two teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and leave to cook gently for about two hours, or until the lamb is quite tender.
Add the carrots, replace the lid and cook for 30 minutes more, until the carrots are soft and the lamb is almost falling off the bone. Use a slotted spoon to remove the lamb and, when cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart into bite-sized chunks, discarding the bones. Return the meat to the saucepan, add the lemon juice and coriander, and keep warm, discarding the whole spices.
Towards the last half hour of cooking, start making the pancakes. Add the flour and half a teaspoon of salt to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, milk, sparkling water and coriander and whisk until smooth with no lumps.
Add 5g butter to a large nonstick saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add about 90g of the batter, swirling to cover the base of the pan, and cook for about two minutes on each side, or until cooked through and browned. Repeat with the remaining butter and pancake batter to make eight pancakes in total.
Roll up each pancake and cut into ¼cm-wide strips. Unravel the strips and divide them between six bowls. Ladle over the lamb soup and serve right away, with an extra sprinkle of coriander.
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