Season sizzles with return of local savory herbal pancakes

Tan Weiyun
In Songjiang, the seasonal culinary treasure of "Caotou Ta Bing" has returned with the esence of early summer. Follow our recipe to make your own savory herbal pancakes at home.
Tan Weiyun
Season sizzles with return of local savory herbal pancakes

In Songjiang, a seasonal culinary treasure has made its return: "Caotou Ta Bing." Bursting with flavor and teeming with the essence of early summer, this savory herbal pancake is now available, ready to tantalize your taste buds. Each bite delivers a harmonious blend of textures and flavors - soft and chewy with a subtly sweet and fresh taste.

The preparation process is a labor of love. Fresh caotou (edible wild herbs) are meticulously washed, blanched and chopped before being mixed with glutinous rice flour in a precise ratio - 4 pounds of flour to 1 pound of caotou.

Begin by cleaning the caotou thoroughly. Blanch it in boiling water to soften, then squeeze out any excess moisture and chop finely.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped caotou with glutinous rice flour, a small amount of regular flour, salt and a hint of sugar. Gradually add warm water and knead until a smooth, pliable dough forms.

Divide the dough into small, even portions. Roll each portion into a ball, then flatten into a cake shape with a gentle press.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a flat-bottomed pan. Cook the cakes over low heat, allowing them to turn a beautiful golden brown on both sides. The slow cooking process ensures a crispy exterior and a soft, chewy interior.

For those with a sweet tooth, adding red bean paste or other fillings during the dough kneading process can enhance the flavor. Additionally, adding a bit of water during frying can make the cakes even softer and more glutinous.

The versatility of Ta Bing is one of its greatest charms. While the traditional caotou filling is beloved for its fresh, earthy taste, the possibilities are endless.

Fillings such as pumpkin, pork and red bean paste offer delightful variations. A new version featuring lettuce leaves has been introduced this season, promising another tasty layer.

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