Turns out the tacos were a very good idea. But I was wrong about the Fun! and Easy! part. The recipe, published by Buwei Yang Chao in How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, should have been a dead giveaway, particularly the bit where it instructs you to
roll up each cake (as you would roll a carpet) and then twist into a standing spiral, like a fattened water-heater. With the rolling pin, flatten the spiral from the top down...Huh? Well, it made for an adventure. Take a look...
The moral? DO surprise your friends and family with a Chinese taco night ... but DON'T use Chao's recipe! Unless you know how to roll a sticky gob of dough into the shape of a fattened water-heater.
These Scallion Cilantro Pancakes look tasty and much thinner than the naan-like cakes I was able to make -- the better to roll up all the yummy fillings. The cilantro would be a welcome addition to the happy hodgepodge of filling flavors.
And speaking of those fillings, I suggest five-spice pork (or turkey? or firm, crumbled tofu?), Chinese pico de gallo, Napa cabbage with a light dressing (or plain), bottled black bean sauce (I heated mine just before serving) or hoisin sauce. You could also toss in some very thinly sliced red peppers, chopped sugar snap peas, or crushed, toasted almonds.
Now, doesn't it feel good to know you've got your menus set for Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo?
食飯 and ¡Buen provecho!
1 pound lean ground pork
2 heaping tablespoons five-spice powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (optional)
A little bit of oil for cooking
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
About 2 hours before serving, combine the pork, five-spice powder, soy sauce, and fresh ginger. Chill until ready to cook. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl just a teensy bit of oil in there. Add pork and scallions and cook, stirring often, until pork is cooked through and not a speck of pink remains, about 10 minutes.
Chinese Pico de Gallo
1/2 cup finely chopped boy choy
1/4 cup finely chopped crunchy bean spouts
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons hot sesame oil, or to taste
About 2 hours before serving, combine all ingredients. Taste and add more hot sesame oil if desired. Chill until 20 minutes before serving.
Napa Cabbage with a Light Mirin Dressing
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Mirin (rice cooking wine)
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Just before serving, combine all ingredients and toss.