Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday. The final day of frivolity before Lent. Ash Wednesday Eve. Though the names differ, we expect the fillings won’t. Lemon and sugar? Check. Nutella? Check. Your continental leaning sibling re-writing the rulebook with a savoury one; cheese and ham, then? Check mate. Whilst we love the classics, we here at IDEAL firmly believe in a world of pancakes out there far beyond basic batter and go-to garnish. So, let’s experiment this Tuesday and add a few new dishes to our collective canon. Here are 5 IDEAL pancakes from across the world.
BANH XEO FROM VIETNAM
Vietnamese food is a cuisine of lightness, balance and zip, always with a focus on textural contrast, and the great cooks of the country even manage to inject this ethos into their superb savoury pancakes, Banh Xeo. Rice flour, water and turmeric flour create a crispy, taco-like shell which is filled with shrimp, minced pork, bean sprouts and the ubiquitous, ever welcome mountain of fresh herbs. Traditionally this pancake is then wrapped in rice paper and more herbs and eaten accompanied with a sharp, salty dipping sauce of fish sauce, vinegar and chili. Bliss.
Banh Xeo | © stu_spivack/Flickr
GALETTE FROM BRITTANY, FRANCE
The country’s famous crepe usually get top billing, but any pancake connoisseur knows that the real eating pleasure is found in the galette, a buckwheat based crepe from the Brittany region which has a sturdier, more crisp texture and are best enjoyed with a savoury filling. Although subjective, our favourite is the classic gruyere cheese, ham and a runny egg beloved of bistros across the country. Breizh Cafe in Paris does an exemplary version.
CONG YOU BING FROM CHINA
It sounds simple; a spring onion pancake, but don’t let this brusque description fool you. It’s essentially an unleavened flatbread filled with sliced spring onions, but is so much more than the sum of its parts, with a crisp exterior, fluffy centre and additional ingredients added at the whim of the cook. Some Chinese believe that the Cong You Bing inspired the invention of the pizza, and while that’s a subject up for piping hot debate, what’s not is the deliciousness of these tasty treats.
Green onion and oil cakes | ©timquijiano/Flickr
SCOTCH PANCAKES FROM SCOTLAND
Something a little closer to home, then. Scotch pancakes are more like the American ones which pair so well with maple syrup and crispy bacon. Traditionally, the Scottish version is topped with jam or fresh fruit, and sometimes a little butter or syrup.
KIMCHIJEON FROM KOREA
The kimchi craze shows no signs of slowing on these shores, so why not broaden your collection of recipes using this glorious fermented cabbage dish by learning to love kimchijeon? This is a kimchi filled pancake made with plain flour and given a crispy finish with the addition of potato starch. Extra vegetables are often added making this a relatively healthy option.
Kimchijeon | © Sharonang/ Wikicommons
APAM BALIK FROM MALAYSIA
Translated as a pancake turnover – and an apt description it is – this sweet treat is seen roadside all across Malaysia and beyond. Coconut milk adds a lusciousness to the batter, with the most popular filling being crushed peanuts and sugar. Apam Balik can be enjoyed thin and crispy or thick, soft and moist; both are wonderful.
OKONOMIYAKI FROM JAPAN
With all the talk of sushi, sashimi, ramen and the rest, this superb savoury pancake from the Japanese repertoire often doesn’t get a mention. It should. Although the dish is usually topped with katsuobushi (cured, shaved fish), spring onions and that sour mayo that the Japanese do so well, okonomiyaki can be enjoyed with all manner of toppings. In fact, the name translates roughly as ‘grilled how you like’ – the choice is yours. It’s a great way to use up leftovers then, which as we all know, is what Shrove Tuesday is all about.
Okonomiyaki | ©ZhengZhou/Wikicommons
PANNEKOEKEN FROM HOLLAND
Another in the American or Scotch style, but considerably larger in diameter and thinner, too, pannekoeken is enjoyed across coffee houses in Amsterdam. Fresh fruit and cream are the usual toppings of choice, the more and the more extravagant, the better.
ROTI FROM THAILAND
Roti is eaten in various forms all over the Indian subcontinent, Africa and South East Asia, but we’ve chosen the Thai rendition for its versatility. In the Land of Smiles you’ll see roti served as a sweet snack at many street food joints, sweetened with the addition of condensed milk and usually filled with banana. But you’ll also be served them with fiery green beef curry in the South of the country. A Thai curry pancake….could there be anything better? The answer is no, no there couldn’t.
Roti | © Kent Wang/Flickr
BLINI FROM RUSSIA
Most of us will be familiar with blini from an Iceland canapes kit, but they can be so much more than a soggy, bland base as a vehicle for smoked salmon. When cooked fresh, they’re beautiful. Traditionally topped with caviar, sour cream and chives, these are decadent as anything in the right hands.