Take Away Los Angeles; Nom Wah Scallion Pancakes

Plus an epic meatloaf recommendation.

Howdy cookbook fans!

Please excuse my absence last week; I figured people’s minds were elsewhere. But I’ve got a great week lined up for you to make up for it: this week’s featured book is The Nom Wah Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 100 Years at New York City’s Iconic Dim Sum Restaurant by Wilson Tang with Joshua David Stein and photos by Alex Lau. I included the whole subtitle there because I continue to be gobsmackingly impressed with the idea that a restaurant can be open for a CENTURY; some are lucky to get to 10 or 20 years.

Anyway, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a personal favorite of mine in New York City’s Chinatown, and I am thrilled to include their recipe for scallion pancakes in this issue. In Friday’s paid issue, I’ll talk to author/Nom Wah owner Wilson Tang about everything from his favorite cookbooks to what home cooks can learn from professional dim sum kitchens to how exactly one goes about telling the story of a century-old restaurant. I hope you’ll join me.

SPN HQ UPDATE: This is not a cookbook recipe, but this weekend I made Davis Tanis’s Meatloaf Parmesan, which is a pretty EPIC meatloaf. For a little extra work than most meatloaves, exponential results. Highly recommend. Tonight I dig into the new Yotam Ottolenghi with his recipe for sweet potatoes cooked in a tomato cumin sauce, and later this week I’m looking forward to making one of the dals from Nik Sharma’s new book. Will report back on both.

In the garden, finally starting to pull the okra as they each put on their last pod of the year. I have a couple quart bags of frozen okra slices I plan on sprinkling around chicken thighs for quick sheet pan dinners this winter. My collards are almost big enough to do something with (!), snap peas are starting to shoot up the trellis, broccoli and broccoli rabe starting to look like real plants, hakurei turnips getting bushy. Every thing is happening! I love fall in Texas.

Okay, now, news.

I was working full time at the restaurant doing long-ass 14-to-16 hour days every day. I’d get home from work at midnight and stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. writing; wake up at 7 or 8 a.m. to answer the catering, press, and other inquires; do social media; and manage the business before going to kitchen for another double shift. I did that on repeat for about three months.

Zoe Adjonyoh, author of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, on writing a cookbook while running a restaurant. (She also hints that more books are on the way in this interview!) [Cherry Bombe]

Australia’s Somekind Press Launches Los Angeles Series

A post shared by @nowservingla
November 6, 2020

A tipster sent in the above Instagram post from LA cookbook shop Now Serving, which announces a new book called Sonoratown by Jennifer Feltham and Teodoro Rodriguez-Diaz, proprietors of the Los Angeles taqueria of the same name. Which is very cool in its own respect, go order it, etc.

But what I am intrigued by here is the press Now Serving is partnering with on the series. Somekind Press, according to its website, “was founded in 2020 by Vaughan Mossop and Simon Davis during the coronavirus pandemic (and subsequent lockdown) as a way to keep Australian hospitality venues alive and creatives busy.” It’s a little bit of a cross between crowdfunding and Kickstarter and print-on-demand? The model works as follows:

  • 10 days before launch, each book is available for pre-order. The book is only printed if they get 100 pre-orders during that period.

  • If the book does not get 100 pre-orders, the money is donated to the team behind the book minus a $50 listing fee. No refunds are given.

  • If it does make 100 pre-orders, the books are printed and the fees split the book’s authors, any contributors, and Somekind.

Sonoratown is the second title in the Take Away Los Angeles series; the first was by Jon Yao of LA restaurant Kato. But the Take Away Australia series has 24 titles. There are also art books, comics, essay books, and a volume called New Voices in Food featuring writings from a diverse group of emerging Australian food writers. A very cool project; I hope it takes off stateside.

The Rise is not a typical cookbook because we wanted to unpack origin, culture, race, and delicious food. We felt that understanding race and culture is very complex because Blackness doesn't come from one country. Migration, immigration, and wars are all factors in our Blackness. The book acknowledges that complicated past, its present and future. 

Marcus Samuelsson discusses the structure of his new cookbook The Rise, which is divided into themed chapters like Next, Remix, Migration, Legacy, and Origin. [F&W]

The trip to Xi’an, to document the food, history, culture, and life there, felt like bridge-building and world-shrinking. All of a sudden, a place that’s always felt so distant after moving to the United States has just become so close. Our writer, Jessica [Chou], and our photographer, Jenny [Huang], both traveled along, and they stepped into places that I remember from my childhood, and the idea that they are taking this and putting it on paper and in photos . . . It felt like we were building a bridge for those in the United States to experience what things are like in my mind, and it felt like I became closer to my hometown. 

Jason Wang remembers a research trip to Xi’an, China while writing his book, Xi’an Famous Foods. [Taste]

Scallion Pancakes

From The Nom Wah Cookbook by Wilson Tang with Joshua David Stein. Copyright 2020 Wilson Tang. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. Photo: Alex Lau.

Every country has its crepe, and the scallion pancake (葱油饼 or cung you bing) is ours. While Western pancakes are made with batter, this one is made with many layers of flaky dough studded with scallions. They’re crisp and delicious snacks, as popular as a breakfast for school kids as a late-night snack for drunken revelers. (Ever consider how much drunk food and kid food overlap?) When I look around Nom Wah, I’ll often see every single table with an order of scallion pancakes, and I laugh. If only they knew how easy these are to make, we’d be out of business.

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

11/3 cups boiling water

4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 8 scallions, chopped

1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup neutral oil

Dumpling Dipping Sauce for serving, see below

  1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball.

  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 4 to 6 minutes. The dough should not besticky to the touch, nor should it stick to the table. Place in a large bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.

  3. Once rested, divide the dough into 8 equal- sized pieces. Roll each piece into a thin circle, 8 inches in diameter. Brush each circle with 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and evenly sprinkle with 1 heaping tablespoon of scallion and 1⁄teaspoon salt. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the disc well, like you would a joint. Then, working from one side, roll into a coil. Finally, use your rolling pin to evenly flatten the coil to 1⁄8-inch thickness.IN a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil over medium-high heat. Cook the pancakes one at a time, adding another tablespoon of oil for each pancake, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately, with dipping sauce if desired.

Dipping Sauce: Place 3/4 cup light soy sauce, 1 cup rice wine vinegar, 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil in a small bowl. Whisk together until well mixed and the sugar dissolved. Makes two cups.

Okay, that’s it pals! Join me Friday for a chat with Wilson Tang by becoming a paid subscriber, if you want! And have a great week.