I am terribly excited to announce that I mastered making the bin for dan-bin, one of my most favorite breakfasts in Taiwan. Dan, which I believe is the Mandarin for pancake, is a thin stretchy pancake also known as a Mandarin pancake. It is usually enjoyed in Taiwan for breakfast, accompanied by a slightly scrambled egg and rolled up with some cooked bacon, chicken or melted cheese. Very satisfying and I could never get enough of it while living there.
After leaving Taiwan (twice now) I always became very sad because I could not find the frozen pancakes used to make this breakfast at any import grocers, neither here in South Africa, nor in the States or even Thailand. I firmly believed that these pancakes could only be bought and not made yourself. I am still not sure where I got that idea from, but it kept me from ever trying to find a recipe.
I once stumbled onto a recipe in a newspaper in Bangkok of something that sounded like dan, but the process seemed complicated. Twice since have I read recipes, but the instructions always confused me and I never mustered the courage to try it. We recently picked up a really old Chinese recipe book and in it I saw a recipe for Mandarin pancakes. The steps seemed simple and easy to follow, and today I finally decided to try it out. And it was so easy!
The steps still sound a little awkward, but it turned out to be a lot of fun preparing them with Alexander and having our very own home and handmade dan-bin at home.
To make dan-bin you need to get:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Mix the boiling water gradually in with the flour. I ended up not using the full amount of water recommended as the dough was looking like it was going to become too sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for about 5 minutes or more to form an elastic but not sticky dough. Leave in a bowl covered with damp cloth four 30 minutes or more.
Remove the dough and roll it into a log, about 1.5 inches thick. Cut 16 pieces from the log and roll them into balls, then flatten to about half an inch thick little rounds. Brush each round with the sesame oil and put them together two-by-two, oiled sides together. Flatten them slightly more before rolling them into thin pancakes, 5-7 inches in diameter. The two rounds look like they become one.
On a heated skillet (not greased), cook them quickly on each side, only until brown spots form on the underside of the pancake. Be careful of burning, they should stay on each side for only a few seconds. Remove the pancakes and separate them, storing them on a plate under a warm towel or aluminum foil. The pancakes can be refrigerated or frozen in aluminum for a later occasion, just steam them until warm before using.
The new roti pan we picked up today worked perfectly for making the pancakes and although mine did not turn out anywhere close to round the colors were perfect and the taste and texture fantastic. Just as I remembered it.
I served mine like they do in Taiwan with the egg, bacon and I added some avocado too for fun. To prepare it, break an egg into a pan and break the egg just a little in the pan and shape into a slight circle. Drop a pancake on the egg and push down a little to bring the two together, flip everything at once so the pancake is on the bottom. Let the egg cook while adding the bacon (or whatever else you want on it), roll up and serve. A thick soy sauce or chili sauce makes a pleasant accompaniment.
I was really surprised at just how easy it was to make the pancakes and I cannot wait to serve them to friends for breakfast now. The best of all is that I can now enjoy this tasty breakfast whenever I want in my own house. Of course this does not mean I don’t still miss Taiwan terribly, but it does help a little.
One more thing ere I go. I read about this event of BloggerAid on Jeanne’s blog a little while back. Through the creation of a cookbook they are contributing to the UN’s World Food Programme, specifically to the School Meals programme, which aims to provide meals to children at schools with low-attendance in poorer communities acroos the globe, thus encouraging children to attend school and get an education, as well as feeding them.
And all food bloggers are invited to help! Until the end of March, recipes can be submitted to BloggerAid for the cookbook, which will go on sale towards the end of this year on Amazon. They are looking for original recipes that you have not blogged yet. So if you have been experimenting with something new and would like to contribute to this project, head over here for more information.
It’s a fantastic excuse to play around in the kitchen and help some less fortunate kids.
*Note- I am so sorry for not commenting and reading any blogs at the moment. We are still figuring out internet at home. So I am limited to writing entries in Word, running to a cafe occassionaly and posting them, without getting time to catch up. It sucks, hopefully we can get something figured soon.