These tasty morsels are on the cocktail food menu at our restaurant and are always the item that generates the most enquiries. Everyone asks for the recipe. These crepes are inspired by the first course in a Peking duck meal, which has crisp duck skin, cucumber, green onions and hoi sin sauce all wrapped up in a tiny mandarin pancake.
Now making an authentic Peking duck takes quite some time and is not for the faint hearted. Some recipes require a bicycle pump and a hair dryer! The mandarin pancakes themselves are also quite tricky, requiring a boiling water dough and dry frying them in pairs to achieve the requisite thinness. All up, it is many hours of intensive work.
Using a few shortcuts, this recipe gives amazing and achievable results. They are actually nothing like Peking duck, but are a totally delicious and unique variant. Instead of mandarin pancakes, the wrapper consists of a delicate egg based crepe, redolent with green onions and sesame oil. If you purchase your duck pre-cooked from a Chinese BBQ shop, there will be no need for you to inflate your own duck (yes its true, Peking ducks are inflated before cooking. Try thinking of a mallard weather balloon). The shredded duck meat is mixed with glass noodles, herbs, green onions and hoi sin sauce which forms the filling for the crepes. The whole lot are rolled into cigar shapes and sliced into bite-sized pieces, a little like nori-maki sushi rolls.
They are definitely easier to make than you think, and can be prepared a few hours in advance, making them perfect for your next swanky cocktail party. And if you don't have one of those planned, fret not; they also make a sensational midnight noding snack.
3 free range eggs
1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp Chinese sesame oil
4 green onions (scallions)
1/2 Chinese roast duck ¹
50 gm (2 oz) glass noodles (dried mung bean vermicelli) (optional)
1 small cucumber
1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
1/4 cup hoi sin sauce
100 gm (4 oz) bean sprouts, chopped
First make the duck filling. Soak the glass noodles (if using) in hot water to cover. Remove the skin and meat from the duck and discard the bones. Shred the meat and skin into fine slices and place in a large mixing bowl. Finely chop 2 of the green onions and add to the duck. Slice the cucumber in half and remove the seeds. Cut the cucumber into small dice and add to the duck along with the coriander and bean sprouts.
If using the glass noodles, drain away the water and test to see that they are soft. Cut into short lengths and add to the duck with the hoi sin sauce. Mix together thoroughly. The mixture should be a little stick and quite yummy. Add a little more hoi sin if need be. Wrap the mixture and set in the refrigerator while you make the crepes.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and add the sesame oil and a fair bit of salt, mix thoroughly. Add water, whisking until you have a runny paste, about the consistency of thick cream. Start with 1/4 cup of water and add more as necessary. Crack the eggs into the mix and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Finely slice the remaining 2 green onions and stir into the batter. Set aside for 20 minute to let the gluten in the flour to settle, preventing chewy crepes.
Heat a crepe pan or non-stick fry pan / skillet to medium-high. Add a small amount of vegetable oil and swirl to cover the pan. Pour in a ladle full of the egg mix and swirl again to coat the base of the pan. Pour any excess mixture back into the crepe mix. Aim to get the crepes as thin as you can manage. Cook the crepe for about 40 - 50 seconds, the top should be just set, then slide onto a waiting plate. Continue until all the batter has been used.
Once the crepes have cooled, remove one and place it on a clean workbench. Take a small amount of the duck filling (about 1/2 a cup) and spread it along the crepe in a solid line, about 1/3 of the way in. Roll the crepe up tightly, like a cigar. It should be roughly 3 or 4 centimetres in diameter. Continue until all the crepes or filling has been used. It should make in the vicinity of 10 rolls.
Place the rolls into the refrigerator to allow them to set. They can be made up to this stage 6 hrs in advance. When it comes tome to serve, remove them from the refrigerator for 20 minute to let them come to room temperature. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into 5 or 6 slices, straight across or on a diagonal if ya wanna get funky. Arrange attractively on a serving platter and yell "GRUB'S UP"!
¹ These should be easy enough to buy at your local Chinatown, or you could ask a local Chinese restaurant to make one for you. If all else fails, just use the meat from half a roast chicken.