Wrap Session…or How To Stuff A Chinese Crepe

My friend Karen heard about this pop up restaurant in the Inner Sunset generating buzz about town for their “authentic” savory stuffed Chinese crepes.  Hungry for a new foodie adventure, we decided to give it a try one morning.  Temporarily housed inside a Japanese noodle place, the vendors had set up a large crepe iron out by the front window, surrounded by containers of fresh fixings and squeeze bottles of sauce.  It all looked promising.  Their offerings were limited to three types of crepe –one of which, the pork (obvious favorite), was already sold out–and a few beverages.   A little disappointed, we settled on one of each of the remaining crepes, the “classic” (meatless) variety and the dubious sounding “frankfurter” stuffed crepe, along with a hot sweet soy milk.

You know that saying “good things come to those who wait?”  This wasn’t one of those times.  Our stuffed crepes weren’t necessarily bad, but I can’t say they were worth the almost half hour wait–not when the sum didn’t quite equal the parts.  We both liked how they managed to envelop the tender crepe with a thin layer of omelet and how the stack of crushed fried wonton skins gave the stuffed crepes a nice crunch, even if our taste buds were less than impressed by the lackluster vegetables (mainly bean sprouts) and diced hot dogs.  As we picked apart the components we couldn’t help but think of other filling combinations that would make a better, more satisfying stuffed crepe.  Other than roast pork, our hands down favorite was roast duck.

Now to test out our idea, I could’ve just gone to the neighborhood Chinese deli and bought half a roast duck…but I didn’t.  No, I decided to roast my own duck…legs that is.  I’d butchered a whole duck a while back and only used the duck breasts for my Valentine’s Day An Affair to Remember post.  The rest of bird parts were neatly tucked away in ziploc bags in the freezer, which, much to my delight, were still in perfectly good condition.  So I took the thawed duck legs and soaked them overnight in a rich marinade of dark and light soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, five-spice, dried orange peel, garlic and ginger.  The drained marinated duck legs were then roasted at 425°F for about 25 mins, then at 350°F for another 15-18 mins. until done.

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Once the duck legs cooled, I shredded up the meat and chopped up the skin.

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And then I set about creating the ultimate stuffed Chinese crepe…

To start off, you need the crepe.  I found a recipe in one of my favorite dim sum cookbooks (Dim Sum by Ellen Leong Blonder) for Chinese pancakes.  After my first tester crepe, I thinned out the batter slightly to get a more even, tender crepe.

Chinese Pancakes (Crepes)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. water
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. oil

Whisk together the eggs and water, then whisk in the flour, salt, and oil until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and rest batter for about 20 mins.  To make the crepes, heat a 10″ non-stick skillet and swirl in 1/2 tsp. oil.  Lift the hot skillet off the heat and pour in about 1/2 cup batter, then tilt and swirl the pan until the batter evenly coats the bottom.  Cook the crepe on medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the edges begin to color slightly, then loosen the edges with a spatula and carefully flip the crepe over.  Cook the other side for another 20-30 secs.  Stack the finished crepes in between sheets of wax paper or parchment until ready to use.

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For the rest of the fixings, I stir-fried some bean sprouts, fresh shiitake mushrooms, and shredded cabbage with a little garlic, salt and pepper, rice wine and drizzle of sesame oil…

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and deep-fried strips of wonton skin for the all important crunch.

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To assemble the savory duck crepe, I whisked two eggs with about 2 Tbsp. water then swirled and coated the bottom of the heated oiled skillet with a thin, even layer of beaten egg and sprinkled on a light coating of toasted sesame seeds.  Before the egg set completely, I quickly topped it with a crepe.  Instead of leaving the egg layer on the outside, I decided to flip the crepe so that I could brown the crepe a little.  I drizzled hoisin sauce on the egg and layered on the duck, vegetables, fried wonton strips, and julienned scallion…

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…then folded the crepe over the everything.

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To finish off the crepe, I topped it with a little more shredded duck, vegetables, drizzle of hoisin, fried wonton strips and scallion.

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My homemade version of Savory Chinese Duck Stuffed Crepe didn’t exactly look like the savory crepes at the pop up restaurant…but it was definitely worth the effort…and wait.

 

Rolling in the Dough

So last month I found myself tackling croissant dough in an attempt to recreate the Cruffin.  While I can appreciate the finesse and skill it takes to make a respectable croissant dough–I mean who doesn’t like those buttery flaky layers–I’m more a brioche kind of gal.  Brioche is richer and more tender, chock full of luscious eggs and butter.  It’s the type of enriched dough I love to use for everything from sticky buns to donuts. Like pizza dough, brioche is a good staple to have in the freezer–goodness knows I have quite a few staples in there already–though I must admit I very rarely just bake a simple loaf of brioche.  I use brioche like a blank canvas, manipulating it into different forms, layering it with different ingredients, like dried fruit and citrus for my Easter loaf.

My last batch of brioche dough produced two rather different, though equally delicious breakfast pastries (oh who am I kidding, I’d be eating them any time of the day or night).  The first was inspired by a photo of an apple creme bun in one of the Flour cookbooks.   I had the makings for all the components.  There were a few farmer’s market pink lady apples sitting around, just waiting to be sautéed in brown butter and sugar.  I needed egg whites for another baking project, which conveniently meant there would be egg yolks for vanilla pastry cream.  All I needed to do was make the brioche dough, which I then halved (stashing one half in the freezer for later use). Instead of forming a bunch of individual buns–I was too impatient to eat it–I made one large apple “galette” or as my friend Toni called it an “apple pizza.”

Brioche Dough 

  • 2 1/4 cup bread flour
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages rapid rise yeast (instant yeast)
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 11 oz. butter (2 1/4 sticks), cut into small pieces, room temperature

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the dry ingredients on low speed.  Whisk together the eggs, water, and milk, then add them to the dry mix.  Mix everything on low for about 4-5 mins. until the dough comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl about halfway through.  Increased the speed to medium low and begin adding the butter a little at a time until it is all incorporated into the dough.  Kick up the speed to medium and continue mixing for another 12-15 mins.  The dough should be somewhat sticky and shiny.  Transfer the dough into a greased bowl large enough for double its size, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof in a warm space.  Punch down the dough and divide in half.

Brioche Project #2 was a slightly more decadent affair.  I decided to make sticky buns…but not just any old sticky bun.  No, these buns were going to be drenched in homemade brown butter salted caramel sauce…and filled with vanilla pastry cream.  If that wasn’t enough, I went the extra mile and laminated the second half of my brioche dough with BUTTER! Yeah, you heard me…I added more layers of butter into an enriched dough.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  I got the idea years ago from Nancy Silverton, who is a genius.  The process for laminating the brioche is similar to that for croissant dough.  I used about 4 oz. room temperature butter for a half batch of brioche dough.  Once the laminated dough was thoroughly chilled and rested, I rolled it out into a 1/3″ thick rectangle, slathered on some brown butter (which I had leftover from a previous recipe), sprinkled on a thick layer of cinnamon and sugar (heavy on the cinnamon) and rolled it into a log.  At this point you can wrap the log tightly in plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight if you are planning on finishing them up in the morning, which is what I opted to do since I wanted to make a big batch of Brown Butter Salted Caramel Paste first.

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Brown Butter Salted Caramel Paste

Yield:  3 pints

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 oz. butter, cooked to dark golden brown, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. sea or kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a large heavy bottom sauce pan, then stir to completely moisten the sugar.  Cook the mixture on medium heat until it becomes a medium dark amber color.  Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the cream, then the brown butter, salt and vanilla.  Turn the heat back on and let the caramel come back to a boil.. Whisk and boil for about 1 min.  Remove from the heat and transfer into heat proof containers (e.g.  mason jars).

To finish the sticky buns, grease a 9″x 9″ pan (I used a glass pyrex baking dish) with non-stick spray and pour in about 1/3″ layer of the salted caramel to fully cover the bottom of the pan.  Divide the roll into 9 thick slices (I goofed and accidentally cut 8) and arrange them in the pan 3 x 3.  Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the rolls proof in a warm space until double in size.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Fill a piping bag with vanilla pastry cream (there should be plenty left from the previous recipe), insert the tip into the center of each roll and pipe in a generous amount of pastry cream.  Set the pan onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Bake the rolls for about 30-35 mins. until they evenly golden brown.  Let the rolls rest in the pan for about 3-4 mins. then carefully invert the pan onto the parchment.

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