Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sesame Scallion Bread (Zhi Ma Da Bing)

I've always wondered what it would be like to travel to parallel universes. Universes where the "what if" or "what would have"'s of our reality actually came true in another place at another time. There are just some times when you see the perfect opportunity, the perfect setup, the perfect moment...but at the wrong place, the wrong time. That's happened to me quite a few times already, and I don't think there's anything more frustrating than looking back and realizing that you were 95% of the way there...but didn't quite make it. 

I always try to tell myself never to regret the things I've done or haven't done in the past. It is the experiences that make us who we are, not our age, not our mentalities or principles. God made us to be imperfect; the most we can ever hope to do is fumble our way in the dark and hope that we make more rights than we do wrongs. 

But...sometimes, when you are so close to the finish line of a race, you just can't let go of that feeling of ALMOST...almost. 

Life certainly plays funny tricks with us. I'm starting to learn that it likes to throw a lot of curveballs that sucker-punch me just when I least expect it. The feeling of defeat leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but I think in the long run, it's all meant for my own good. I've just got to learn to stop and accept. It's a lot like surfing, which may have been why I was never too good at it. I have to learn to stop fighting...just let the worries roll over me like the waves of the ocean. 

And one thing I do know is that at the end of the day, everyone will be ok. 

Sesame Scallion Bread (Zhi Ma Da Bing)


-3 cups flour
-1 cup warm water (we use 1/2 boiling and 1/2 cold)
-1 packet (2.5 tsp) instant yeast
-Salt to taste
-1 bunch scallions, chopped
-Lots of sesame seeds (for topping)

1. In the water, dissolve the yeast, mix, and leave to rest for about 2-3 minutes. It should start to foam a little on the surface; otherwise your yeast is defective.
2. Place the flour in a large bowl, then pour a little of the yeast water into it. Combine, adding a little more water each time you finish incorporating the last bit.
3. Knead until the dough is smooth and springy.
4. Cover and rest in a warm environment (Mom likes to turn up the oven to 350, then turn it off and let the dough sit inside. It sort of develops a crust from the residual heat, but Mom says that's okay.)
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle of about 1/2-inch thickness.The middle should be slightly thicker than the edges. 
6. Brush one surface with a light coating of oil, but avoid the edges.
7. Sprinkle the green onions over the oiled surface, once again avoiding the edges. If you are really good, you can manage to get all of them in, but it's harder.
8. Gather the edges carefully like a bag, making pleats. Think maybe aChinese bun? Pinch them all together very tightly so that the edges fuse together (the dough should still be sticky enough to do this). 
9. Flatten the surface, then carefully flip the entire thing over.
10. Lightly coat the new surface with water, then sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
11. Turn over and repeat with the other side.
12. Fill your pan with a good coating of nonstick spray, then about 1-2 tbsp oil. Turn up the heat to medium, then carefully lay the bread into the pan.
13. Cover with the lid and leave alone for approximately 10 minutes (more or less, depending on your stove). Don't open the lid, no matter how tempted you are!
14. Carefully open the lid, and using a spatula, lift the bread a little to see the cooked side. It should be nicely browned (if it's too light, leave it be; if it's too dark...well you'll just get your bread extra crispy). It should be cooked enough that the pancake is firm and won't cave in if you lift an edge. 
15. Once you are satisfied with the done-ness, flip the entire pancake over. This step is a little tricky, particularly if your pan is not big enough. Mom uses 2 spatulas to do this.
16. Close the lid, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the other side is crispy and golden as well.
17. Transfer to a plate, slice with a pizza cutter, and serve!

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