I love green onion pancakes with lots of salt and lots of saké. The first time I had them was in a Chinese restaurant and I became addicted to them, so I tried making them myself. There was something not right with the recipe and they turned out like crackers. Not good. So I started buying frozen green onion pancakes.

The problem with frozen green onion pancakes is that they usually don’t come packaged with waxed paper to separate the layers, so they stick together and are very hard to pry apart. Defrosted, they’re too sticky to handle.

One afternoon, I tried to disassemble a stack of frozen pancakes using a metal spatula, a metal scraper, and a dinner knife, among other things, but nothing worked. The metal was too thick and the pancakes kept breaking. So without thinking about it, I reached for a carving knife.

Bad idea

One of the most common (and severe) kitchen injuries results from trying to separate frozen foods with a carving knife. I didn’t think of that at the time. I had handled really big, really sharp knives for years while doing kitchen work and it didn’t occur to me that this might not be a good idea. So I wedged the tip between the layers and gave the knife a good push. The next thing I knew, I had a ten inch carving knife imbedded in my left palm with the tip extending through the back of my hand.

I’m one of those people who unintentionally becomes very calm when something goes wrong. I simply said, “Oh oh” and pulled it out. There was someone in the kitchen with me at the time, but I didn’t want to frighten them, so I hid my hand behind my back, went to the sink and turned on the cold water tap. Cold water may seem to work well for burns, but it doesn’t help much when you slice through an artery and it’s spurting blood. In short order I realized that I this was not something I was going to be able to fix, so I reached for a dishtowel and a wooden spoon, fashioned a tourniquet and announced that we were going to the hospital.

After an hour’s wait in Emergency and many blood soaked towels, a plastic surgeon reconnected the artery and as many severed nerves as he was able to find. It took him a couple of hours. Then I went home, where I was greeted with a freshly cooked stack of salty, crunchy, green onion pancakes and lots of saké. Lots and lots of saké.

If you haven’t tried green onion pancakes, please do - they’re wonderful. But if you buy them (or anything else) frozen, please don’t even think about using a carving knife to separate the layers, okay?

I raise a cup of saké with my now fully functional left hand to Dman for noding the recipe. No more frozen pancakes!

Note: Green onions are also called scallions, spring onions, and stone leeks. They have a slim white bulb at the base and long green stems. They are believed to have been first cultivated in Siberia and Mongolia and have been used in Chinese and Japanese cooking for centuries.

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