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THREE OF A KIND Shallot pancakes

Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday March 29, 2011

STEPHANIE CLIFFORD-SMITH

Menus often refer to these as shallot cakes or pancakes but the principal ingredient is what we in Australia call green onions and Americans refer to as scallions. The slender root vegetable was wrongly labelled shallot in decades past and the name has stuck. The pancakes are eaten as street food in China, particularly in the north. Here, they are most often listed as an entree. Usually they're a simple, unleavened flour-and-water dough, rolled, embedded with sliced green onion, coiled, sliced and rolled again into smaller green-speckled discs. Fried, then plunged into soy sauce they're a hit.1. New ShanghaiThere are many reasons to like this modern place on Ashfield's bustling shopping strip and most of them are dumpling-related. This restaurant opened about four years ago and was the first in an ever-expanding family-owned chain that has now spread east and north of the harbour and internationally. Shallot pancake ($4.80), a golden disc that's stretchy and crunchy, is listed among the dumplings. It always arrives searingly hot and glistening and nobody can wait until it cools to dive in.2. Grape Garden Beijing CuisineCooks pull noodles and roll dough to order for the shallot pancake ($4.50) at this humble basement food court outlet. Cooked on a high flame in the slightest trace of vegetable oil, the surface is grease-free, with nicely charred spots. Cut into wedges the pancake is thin and stretchy and the dark sesame and chilli dip is salty and spicy. The owner chops the green onions more finely for Australian tastes saying they would be chunky in China.3. Hurstville Chinese RestaurantBy day, tables are dressed with floral plastic cloths and by night they're fabric but the decor's never likely to be the drawcard. The customers were exclusively Chinese when Good Living visited. Fine green onions feature in a shallot cake ($3.80) rather than pancake and it's only on the Chinese, not the English, menu. It's a deep golden ring of fried pastry that's impossibly short with a juicy onion filling. The towelettes supplied for the respectable san choy bau do double duty on this finger-licking number. New Shanghai, 273 Liverpool Road, Ashfield, 9797 7284 Grape Garden Beijing Cuisine, Lemon Grove Shopping Centre, 427-441 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, 9411 3933 Hurstville Chinese Restaurant, 184 Forest Road, Hurstville, 9586 0828

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald

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