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The Chef's Way

Chef's Way
Chinese scallion pancakes with fried oysters
By Vicky Cheng
Chef/Owner of Vea Restaurant and Lounge, one Michelin star and on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list

Hong Kong-born chef Vicky Cheng was raised in Canada and worked in restaurants in Toronto and New York (including Daniel in New York). He moved back to Hong Kong and was chef at (now-closed) Liberty Private Works before opening VEA Restaurant and Lounge in 2015. At Vea, which has one Michelin star and is on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, Cheng draws on his Asian and Western roots with his “Chinese x French” cuisine, offering a tasting menu that, depending on the season, can include playful takes on iconic Hong Kong dishes such as braised sea cucumber and clay pot rice.

In this dish, Cheng makes a luxe version of a popular Chinese street food snack, scallion (spring onion) pancakes, by adding fried oysters. In Hong Kong and other parts of east and south-east Asia, seafood vendors sell shucked, small (about 2.5cm/1in) fresh oysters that are used in dishes such as oyster omelettes and baby oyster congee. These might be difficult to find in other parts of the world, and using another small type, such as Kumamoto, would make the cost of this dish prohibitive. If you must, use the shucked oysters sold in plastic tubs in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets, buying the smallest ones available. Depending on their size, you’ll probably need just two to four of those oysters for each pancake.

Cheng says that if you don’t have a hand-held food smoker (such as a Smoking Gun) to just use plain sour cream, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. He also says that if you don’t need all the scallion pancakes for this dish, to wrap them, uncooked, in cling-film, then freeze. Cook them while they’re frozen - no need to thaw. And while Cheng makes 10 22cm (9in) pancakes and then uses a 10cm (4in) cutter to cut out 20 perfectly round circles - best for restaurant presentations - he says if you don’t want to waste the trimmings, you can portion the dough into smaller balls (about 40g/1½oz)) and roll them into 10cm (4in) circles.

This recipe looks long, but you can do some of the steps simultaneously: for instance, while the dough for the pancakes is resting, prepare the oysters and the frying batter. The recipe makes 20 pancakes - enough for 10, serving two per person, as a starter, or four to five as a main course.


January 31, 2020
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