Vegetable and Coconut-Rice Flour Crepes

Here is a beautiful savory vegetable and tofu pancake  that can be served at anytime of day.  It can be a vegetarian main course or a side dish for a dinner that might include seafood or pork.  I make these  for breakfast because I prefer bold, savory flavors at the first meal of the day.  These are bright yellow and crispy-edged, with a variety of textures from the vegetable stir-fry that makes the base of the pancakes.  They are also gluten-free if you use the rice flour in the batter.  The freshly cooked pancakes are served with lettuce leaf wrappers and a hot-sweet-sour dipping sauce just to amplify the flavor and texture experience.  All the components of the dish can be prepared ahead of time; bring the prepared ingredients to room temperature, gather together your dining companions, and fire up the stove when it’s time to eat. 

Vegetable Coconut-rice Flour Crepes
(makes 4 generous servings)
1/2 pound very firm tofu
about 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 medium shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (or use large button or baby portobellos)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced,
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bean sprouts
4 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup rice flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 small head green leaf lettuce, separated into leaves, rinsed, dried, and refrigerated
Sprigs of fresh mint
Dipping Sauce
Cu the tofu into 1/8 inch thick slices and then into 3/4 inch squares.  Set aside.  Place a large, non-stick saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and when the pan is hot, add the onion, mushrooms, and ginger.  Saute over medium heat until the mushrooms wilt and begin to shrink.  Stir in the tofu, bell pepper, and scallions, along with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and saute for about 3 minutes more.  Add the bean sprouts, and toss everything over the heat for about 2 minutes more (careful not to break up the tofu too much).  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Break the eggs into a medium-sized bowl.  Add the coconut milk and beat with a whisk until smooth.  Continue whisking as you add the turmeric, rice flour, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Pour the mixture into a 2-cup liquid measure and set aside.  Place an 8-inch nonstick crepe pan over medium heat.  Add a scant teaspoon of canola oil, and when the pan is hot, add about one quarter of the cooked vegetable and tofu mixture, spreading it into a flat layer.  Pour one quarter of the egg batter over the vegetables.  Tilt the pan to distribute the batter evenly around the edges.  Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the batter is set.  Loosen the edges of the crepe and turn it carefully with a large spatula.  Cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes more.  You can keep the crepe warm in an 200F oven while you finish cooking the other 3 crepes.  Serve the crepes as soon as they are all cooked, with the crispy lettuce leaves, mint sprigs, and dipping sauce.  Use the lettuce as a wrapper by placing large pieces of crepe, drizzled with dipping sauce, and a sprig of mint inside the crisp leaves.  Roll up and eat with your hands.  Enjoy!
Hot-Sweet-Sour Dipping Sauce:
2 small red or green serrano chiles
1/4 cup light-colored honey
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup minced peanuts (optional)
Slice the chiles into very thin rounds (remove the seeds for a milder flavor).  Measure the honey into a small glass or ceramic bowl.  Add the vinegar and stir until the honey dissolves.  Stir in the chiles.  Set aside at room temperature until serving time, then add the peanuts.
(from “Sunlight Cafe” by Mollie Katzen)

Crispy vegetable and tofu pancakes with garnishes


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