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.
Once the duck legs cooled, I shredded up the meat and chopped up the skin.
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.
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…
and deep-fried strips of wonton skin for the all important crunch.
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…
…then folded the crepe over the everything.
To finish off the crepe, I topped it with a little more shredded duck, vegetables, drizzle of hoisin, fried wonton strips and scallion.
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.