“My first attempts at cooking were terrible. But I like to eat so I stuck with it.”
Recipe by Tony "Chu Jung" Su, Executive Chef, Del Mar Rendezvous
Del Mar Plaza, 1555 Camino del Mar, Suite 102, Del Mar
I like cooking because I can be myself. When I cook at home, it’s simple. We do a lot on the grill: steaks, ribs, and pork chops. On a special occasion, we make traditional dumplings and chicken feet or pork stomachs and hot noodle soups. I came to America 13 years ago, when I was 19. Before I became a chef, I was a luggage porter. When my uncle (Chef Mau Sun) opened Szechuan Mandarin, he hired me as a dishwasher and eventually I worked my way up to a prep cook.
My first attempts at cooking were terrible. But I like to eat so I stuck with it. My uncle went on to open Dumpling Inn and he kept telling me, “You need to learn how to cook. The restaurant may have an emergency and you may have to jump in!” I told him I didn’t see that happening. Then one day, the chef of Dumpling Inn got really sick and didn’t show up for work. No one else could cook but him. I walked into the kitchen that day and said, “Don’t look at me!” I had cooked for family before but never for paying customers. My family said, “If you don’t do it, we will all have to go back to Taiwan.”
So I jumped in. We cooked about 400 meals that day and I was so nervous I tasted every plate before it left the kitchen. When my uncle opened up Del Mar Rendezvous, I took over as chef. I like to stay in the kitchen and watch after our guests try the food. After one bite, their face tells me everything I need to know. I am not famous enough for people to come to a restaurant because of me, but people come to the restaurant because the food is so good. That makes me happy.
3 cups sweet rice flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon soybean oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
13 tablespoons cooking oil (about ¾ cup)
1 cup chopped scallions
salt to taste
HOW TO DO IT
In a large bowl, combine the flour and hot water until a loose dough has formed. Slowly add the cold water.
In a separate bowl, add one teaspoon of soybean oil and coat the bowl. Place the dough in this bowl and let rise for 20 minutes, covered, at room temperature.
After dough has risen, remove and roll very flat and thin until about ½ centimeter thick. Spread the chopped scallions, salt, and three tablespoons cooking oil on top of the flattened dough.
Start at one edge of the dough and roll up tightly until it forms a long cylindrical shape. Cut the cylinder into ten equal pieces and lay each piece with the cut edge face down. Smash each piece flat with your hand and then use a rolling pin to roll it into a very thin, round, pancake, roughly half a centimeter thick.
Heat a frying pan or skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon cooking oil (you will need to add another 1 tablespoon of cooking oil for each new scallion pancake you cook). Put one of the pieces of dough in the pan and cook it until it’s golden on one side (roughly 2–3 minutes), patting it flat with a spatula. Flip it over and repeat the same on the other side. Serve hot.