A handsome pair: sesame pancakes and hoisin sauce

Last night I posted a quick bit on Facebook about a great meal I threw together, which comes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s first cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. Given the response and requests for the recipes, I thought I would make this my blog post today.

Nothing Latin or American about it, but good food is good food and always a favorite topic.

Gwyneth calls for a trio of perfect Chinese roasted duck, sesame pancakes and red miso hoisin sauce.  However, with a precocious, climbing infant and first grade homework to assist, the duck seemed like too much for me to take on.

Instead, I substituted with a familiar: 8 chicken thighs, skin on, drizzled in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and popped into a 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes, give or take.

While those were roasting, I pulled the sesame pancakes together.

Ingredients are:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rice milk (if this is too strange for you, I’m sure any milk, dairy or other, will do)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (I used slightly more with repeat oil swirls)

Heat a small skillet over a medium flame and pour in the vegetable oil, using a paper towel to spread it around.

Pour two tablespoons of the pancake mix into the pan and and swirl quickly so it coats the bottom as best you can. The pancake will start to bubble and brown around the edges after two minutes or so. Gently lift the edge with a rubber spatula, pull it up with your finger and flip to the other side. This will toast nicely in about 30 seconds. Put it on a plate, re-oil the pan a little, sopping up any extra with a paper towel and repeat until there are approximately 12 pancakes.

She notes in the book that the first is usually a dud and mine was. Ugly as sin, but the taste was there and the little ones split and ate it anyway. Food Network won’t be calling anytime soon, but the overall appearance did improve as I went along.

With on and off attention to the pancakes, it was time for the hoisin, which is a Chinese dipping sauce, used much like our barbecue sauce. This version brings in red miso, the rich sweetness of maple syrup, power packed with minerals, garlic and a five-spice powder, consisting of fennel seed, star anise, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

Ingredients are:
1 tablespoon grape seed or vegetable oil
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 cup red miso
1/2 cup real Vermont maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

I pulled out a jar of organic, peeled garlic from the fridge and reached for the chopping board with my 1-year-old, Ana, literally underfoot. There was no time to mince with her newly discovered obsession, the spice drawer, which she can now open, reach into and pull items out of, so I chopped the fat, white clove into small, roughed-up parts, did a squish with the back of the spoon and that was that.

Per instruction, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add the garlic and five-spice powder to cook about 30 seconds. The smell is fantastic. Whisk in the rest of the list and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Mine bubbled rather dramatically, thickening in the process. Let it cool before serving and if you don’t mince, you may want to drain the sauce into a bowl, leaving the garlic chunks in the strain, as I did.

By then the chicken had cooled enough to shred by hand and put in a bowl that I placed on the table.

The pancakes were still coming off the pan, one by one, and piling higher on a plate, but another 10 minutes and all was ready.

It was family-style serving and gobbled up in minutes. I was layered in kisses and this will definitely be a repeat. However, next time, notes to self:

*Make pancakes ahead of time if possible.
*Smear hoisin sauce on pancakes before putting chicken down. It’s delicious, but as Luisito said, a little concrete like and does not pour over.

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