Scallion Pancakes. Make ahead, kid friendly, and divine when homemade. (No soggy takeout for you!)
Scallion Pancakes. Yes. Slap that dough!
Scallion Pancakes, Slap(stick), commedia dell’arte, Pagliacci, Pavarotti & Key Glock
Originally Published Thursday, March 31, 2022, week of the Oscars slap
Like most parents of young children, I spend the majority of my time with my daughter either making her laugh, feeding her, giving her hugs, and doing my best to make sure she communicates and socializes into “polite" society. I love that my four year old breaks out into song and starts dancing to her own mashed up creations, however, simultaneously terrified that her creative spirit will be broken once she starts attending school.
I’m not quite sure how to process what happened at the Oscars between Will Smith and Chris Rock. I completely understand why gossip and chatter help define social boundaries. But seriously, sometimes the constructs of “civil” society confuses me. Is it more or less abusive if derogatory comments are made behind your back or to your face? (Wait, in most religions, isn’t gossip mongering considered a mortal sin?) Especially for entertainers, does being famous automatically mean you are no longer entitled to privacy? Is it just a price to pay? Because they are famous, they inherently become cultural and behavioral tastemakers. Wait… most of us are not famous and our online privacy is no longer ours. Is that civil, abusive, or the realm of commerce? Many of our own policy makers don’t even navigate their own technology use (as seen by some of the questions asked by members of Congress whenever tech companies are summoned). How are they supposed to sufficiently protect us?
Which brings me to slapstick and clowns. When in doubt, turn to laughter. As your defacto, id toddler mom, the Oscars are at once tragedy and comedy, as most of life. I adore how physical humor, like music, transcends any language.
Years ago, I remember reading and playing through works of “commedia dell’arte” in classical music. Little did I know that the hilarious programming I loved on tv, were loosely based on so many timeless tropes… lovers' miscommunications, the commonalities and differences of rich versus poor, the misunderstood or definitively awful villain, and the clown.
Commedia dell’ arte
Most of my peers have dedicated their entire lives to the classical music canon. (I started off writing really complex, crazy and dense classical music that I knew would probably never see the light of day… but I preferred eating. In turn, I wrote beats and (literally) everything else to make a living. Some people chastised me for “selling out.” I called it being "versatile". Classically trained, but grateful I had the ability to look past mediums as a child, I feel very fortunate to have listened to my heart. I still terribly miss writing esoteric music). For every classical musician you see mastering their instrument, chances are their entire childhood and existence well into adulthood was spent on thousands of hours of solitary practice. It pains me to see that because of the dearth of accessible music education, we have entire filmmakers and tastemakers who can’t see past the staid, lexicon of the orchestral repertoire (thank you older orchestra directors) and embrace the value of bringing cultural and mixed media innovation.
Pagliacci, or “Clowns” is an Italian opera premiered in 1892, composed with lyrics by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It features everything scandalous we secretly love about life (like any good soap opera): a murder, a love triangle, and themes of restitution between rich and poor.
Here’s a Pagliacci overview.
Here’s a more refined discussion in terms of theatre and music.
Write-Up of Pagliacci touching on these truths from the Victorian Opera
"The genius of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is in its stated ambition to abandon the
“vecchie usanze”, the old customs of Commedia, and to make a theatre based on “truth” –
real passions as opposed to stylised archetypes"- Victorian Opera
The is the most famous aria from “Pagliacci” (you’ve heard it). If you have a moment, please listen to Pavarotti’s version of “Vesti la giubba,” or “Put on the Costume,” sung at the end of the first act when Canio discovers his wife’s infidelity. (Yes. Like "Send in the Clowns."). Bereft and stunned, he must put on his costume because the “show must go on.” Interesting, now that Pavarotti’s salacious personal life has been brought to life. (Boomerang to the issue of privacy of famous people.)
Pavarotti - Vesti La Giubba
Infidelity, rising up from economic disparity, disrespect, clowns (ah hem…Pagliacci)? Opera, spoken word, music, love, food, and life. The universalities we all consume and know.
Here are the lyrics and audio to Key Glock’s, “Clowns".
Key Glock - Clowns (Clean) (Glockoma)
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps make you laugh or think about things in a new way! Whether you agree or disagree with society’s consensus on privacy, here’s to knowing we have some inalienable truths: gossip, miscommunication, murder, love triangles, and the differences of rich and poor always make for good entertainment. Enjoy! Have a great week! Xo, Melissa
P.S. I threw in some Sinatra for you.
by Grace Young, Adapted by Rachel Wharton
Here’s the NYT link I used. This recipe is super easy and fool-proof. I usually do this on a Sun morning when I can just get into the groove of kneading. I’m currently testing others (just to play with texture). I’ll keep you posted! Enjoy!
2 cups/270 grams all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
⅔ cup/160 grams boiling water
¼ cup/60 grams cold water, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
⅓ cup/26 grams finely minced scallions, patted completely dry
⅔ cup/144 grams vegetable oil, or as needed
In a medium heatproof bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Pour in the boiling water, quickly mixing everything together with a wooden spoon until the flour absorbs all the water. It will look a bit dry and flaky. Stir in the cold water. A dough should form and begin to pull away from the side of the bowl. If needed, add more cold water a teaspoon at a time. The dough should not be sticky, but dry to the touch.
Dust a work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary, 3 to 5 minutes. Lightly cover the dough with a clean damp cloth or plastic bag and let it rest for 1 hour.
Redust the work surface with flour and knead the rested dough for a few minutes, or until it is smooth. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll into balls. Cover three of them with the damp cloth or plastic, then use a floured rolling pin to roll the fourth into a 7-inch round. Cover the round with the damp cloth or plastic, then roll out the remaining three pieces, keeping any unused dough well covered while you work.
Brush each round very lightly with the sesame oil and sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a quarter of the minced scallions. Tightly roll each circle into a fat rope, then tightly coil each rope so that it looks like a snail’s shell, pinching the end of the rope into the bun so that it seals. Cover the rounds with the damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Redust your work surface with flour and roll each cake out with a floured rolling pin into a 7-inch round. Set aside to fry when the oil is ready. Or, refrigerate in an airtight container dusted with flour for up to 1 day. Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes before frying. You can also stack the rolled dough between parchment paper, wrap tightly in plastic, seal in a resealable plastic freezer bag and freeze for a few weeks. Unwrap and let them come to room temperature, about 15 minutes, before you fry them.
Line a plate or baking sheet with paper towels. Heat the oil in a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over medium until it is hot but not smoking. Working carefully, as the oil will spatter, add a scallion cake to the bottom of the pan using a metal spatula or tongs, and let it fry until golden brown on the bottom, just a minute or two. Carefully flip the cake over and fry until the other side is golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute more. As it fries, adjust the heat to maintain a steady sizzle and lightly press the center of the cake with a metal spatula to make sure the center is cooked through, being careful of oil spatters. Alternatively, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high and pan-fry a round of dough until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes. When the cake is done, transfer it to the paper towels and fry the three remaining cakes, adding 1 tablespoon oil per cake if pan-frying.
Sprinkle the scallion cakes with a little more salt, cut them into 6 to 8 wedges, and serve them immediately.