This is the time of year when garlic plants work their magic. They shoot out their scapes: long curly tips that need to be picked off so that the plant invests all of its energy into its bulb, ensuring nice fat heads of garlic to be harvested later in the summer. In the meantime, while we wait for our garlic bulbs to reach full size, we can enjoy elegant scapes. They’re gorgeous to look at, and delicious to eat!
Scapes are kind of like a bonus gift when you grow your own garlic. I like to spend hours in the garden photographing them. (Someone usually has to come pry me away). They are so intricate and full of character. In fact, I am so crazy about scapes that they were the subject of my first ever blogpost and cooking video two years ago.
Though pesto is what I most often make out of garlic scapes, there are many other ways to cook them. You can steam like green beans or sautée them with other veggies. A little while back I decided to sneak them into one of my favorite recipes: Chinese scallion pancakes. If you’ve never had the pleasure of biting into a scallion pancake, you’ve got to make these! They’re chewy and flaky and dunked into a ginger soy dipping sauce, totally addictive.
If your curiosity is piqued, you’ll want to watch this video. It’s one of my all-time favorite cooking videos, produced by the classy folks over at Saveur Magazine, and featuring the one and only Martin Yan preparing classic scallion pancakes.
I hope Mr. Yan will forgive me for using garlic scapes instead of the traditional scallions! But I tried this out and it worked beautifully.
The thing that makes these pancakes so special is that the dough is layered, or “laminated”.
Laminated pastry refers to dough that is alternately layered with fat. Examples are croissants, puff pastry, and danish dough. The more layers there are, the flakier the pastry will be. In this case, lamination is achieved by rolling out the dough, brushing it with sesame oil (and chopped garlic scapes), then rolling it into a ‘cigar’.
The ‘cigar’ is then coiled in on itself into a ‘snail.’
The ‘snail’ is then squashed down with the palm of your hand, rolled out, and fried up in a skillet.
I use spelt flour in my version because I find white flour can be a little gluey at times and I love the nutty flavor of whole spelt. Plus using whole grain gives these a little more nutritional value. I experimented with making three different versions: one using all white flour, one using all spelt, and one using part white and part spelt flours. The latter was my favorite in both texture and flavor. But you can choose the version you’d like to make, the flour amounts are the same either way. Serve these pancakes hot off the skillet, with dipping sauce. They make a great appetizer on their own, or a lovely accompaniment to soups, curries, or stir fries. Enjoy!
Garlic Scape Pancakes
Hot off the skillet, these garlic scape pancakes are delicious with a homemade ginger dipping sauce. Watch a video about the inspiration for this recipe on the Kitchen Vignettes blog from Aube Giroux.
- 1 cup whole spelt flour (optional, use white flour if you prefer)
- 1 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 cups finely chopped garlic scapes
- Dipping Sauce:
- 3 tbsp. organic soy or tamari sauce
- 3 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 to 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. sugar or honey
- A pinch of dried chili flakes (optional)
- For frying:
- About 1/4 cup grapeseed or peanut oil
- Mix the spelt and white flours together with the salt. Put half of the mixture in one bowl and half in another bowl.
- In one bowl add 1/2 cup boiling water. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough can handled. Knead for 2 minutes in the bowl.
- In the other bowl, mix the baking powder into the flour. Add the cold water and mix with a wooden spoon until dough can be handled. Knead for 2 minutes in the bowl.
- Incorporate both doughs together by kneading them into one another for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. This dough is very forgiving. If its too dry, simply add a bit of water. If it's too sticky, simply add a bit of flour. The dough should feel nice and moist but not stick to your hands.
- Shape into a ball, and place in a bowl with a damp towel on top and let it rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
- Cut the dough into 4 pieces.
- Roll each one into a thin 9 or 10 inch circle.
- Brush with one tablespoon of sesame oil and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of garlic scapes, evenly distributed over the surface.
- Roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch in the edges to seal. Coil this cylinder into a spiral and tuck in the end. Flatten it into a disc with the palm of your hand. Roll this out into a flat pancake, about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Let the 4 pancakes rest for about 10 minutes before frying.
- Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by whisking all ingredients together.
- Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat. When the oil is hot, gently place the pancake into the pan and cook on each side for about 2 to 3 minutes or until nice and golden. Repeat with remaining pancakes. Cut the pancakes into wedges and serve hot, with the dipping sauce.
Tips/TechniquesIf you wish to keep your pancakes warm, place them on a baking sheet in a 200 F oven. However, they are best when served straight off the skillet.
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.