This ramp pancake recipe is a made-for-spring riff on the shallot version

ramp pancakes

Total time:35 minutes

Servings:4

Total time:35 minutes

Servings:4

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Every once in a while, when I scroll through images on my phone, I remember the early days of the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, my children were 1 and 3, just babies. To see these images is to ache for the years I lost, and the years they lost, the years we waited for the world to rise after kneeling. For a while we were all together like family, hanging together.

For a while, I was on my own. I was just cooking dinner.

I had stopped going to restaurants, but I had also given up on takeout. I don’t know why I made this obscene sacrifice.

Still, I looked for a way to distinguish between a weekend and a weekday, to make food that felt more memorable than something one might have on the average Monday. What’s the difference between work and play when it’s all happening at the kitchen table anyway? What’s the difference between a weekday dinner and a weekend dinner when no one is rushing from the office?

The difference, I discovered, was the mood.

On a Friday night, I would recreate a restaurant meal, right in my own kitchen. One evening: a pizza and a bright salad, like you might find at your favorite Italian restaurant. The next: the closest I can get to Jewish comfort food or, in other words, Chinese takeout. This is how I learned to make scallion pancakes and later, through a process of trial and error, my own ramp pancakes – using the seasonal ingredient as a substitute for scallions . The traditional Chinese and Taiwanese pancake is made with a denser batter that’s rolled out, sprinkled with scallions, and released, but this simpler batter is a tasty option for that nagging mom.

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Ramps, also from the allium family, are in season for just a second, and they lend a sweet, deeply aromatic quality to the inside of these pancakes. Crispy on the outside, the pancake becomes almost creamy on the inside, like a latke.

If ramp season overlaps with the appearance of garlic blossoms in your community, also add the blossoms in place of scallions for an even tastier pancake.

Ramps are a short season, but you can freeze them while you wait for the garlic scapes to arrive. Here’s how to do it: wash the ramps, then blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds and place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Separate the leaves from the stems and immediately use the green part. Place white stems and bulbs in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.

If you’re using garlic scapes, which usually emerge in late May or early June, cut them finely so they don’t overcrowd the dish. If you can’t get your hands on it, use green onions instead.

Either way, spring produce deserves to be the focus of this recipe, a gentle bloom that promises warmer months ahead. This dish is also an easy entry into frying, a way to free yourself from the fear of dealing with hot oil.

You’ll need a sturdy non-stick pan that holds the heat, a heavy ladle to spread the pancake as thin as possible, and a spatula (I like my metal fish) to flip it.

The oil should be hot – shimmering, but not smoking. If between the pancakes the oil begins to smoke, let the pan cool. If it burns, throw it away, quickly wipe the pan clean, and start fresh. You want those delicate golden pancakes, and the smell of too-distant oil can — and will — haunt your food and your kitchen.

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Good pancakes require patience; you can only cook one at a time. But that, too, is something I’m momentarily nostalgic about. I miss the time in the kitchen that was languorous and purely mine, a time when I had nowhere to be. I imagine one day I’ll have to explain to a generation of grandkids the time when time no longer had meaning, when we all just cooked and watched “Tiger King” and caught up with The New Yorker.

Or maybe I won’t have to explain anything at all, because these pancakes, crafted during that singular moment when grief, fear and anxiety were briefly held at bay by time in the kitchen, are about themselves. They say: Our house was delicious.

Make Ahead: The sauce should be prepared at least 20 minutes before serving the pancakes.

Where to buy: Chinkiang (black) vinegar is available in Asian markets and online.

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  • One (1/2 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped ramps (can substitute 2 fine green onions)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinkiang (black) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (15 grams) cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) chilled club soda or seltzer
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup (4 3/4 ounces/136 grams) ramps, cut into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal pieces (can replace 4-6 green onions)
  • 1 cup (4 3/4 ounces/136 grams) garlic scapes or green onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal pieces
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) vegetable or other neutral oil, divided, plus more as needed

Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, soy sauce, ramps, black vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, and oil until combined. Let stand at least 20 minutes before serving; you should have about ½ cup.

Make the pancakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar until combined. In another bowl, whisk together club soda, soy sauce and sesame oil until just combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, whisking until smooth. Taste a drop of batter and season with additional salt, if desired. Fold the ramps and garlic scapes or green onions.

Using a 10-inch nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat ¼ cup oil until rippling but not smoking. Pour a quarter (about ½ cup/120 milliliters) of the batter into the center of the pan, using the back of the ladle to distribute the batter as evenly as possible; it will mostly stay in the center of the pan, but you want to spread it out so it’s thinner. The pancake should measure about 4 inches wide.

Cook crepe until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a thin spatula, flip the pancake and cook until golden brown, another 2 to 3 minutes, adding more oil as needed.

Transfer crepe to cutting board and repeat with remaining oil and crepe batter. (If you’re waiting to serve until all the pancakes are done, cover them lightly with foil to keep them warm.) Cut each pancake into wedges, transfer to a plate, and serve with the sauce aside to dip.

Per serving (1 pancake with about 1 tablespoon sauce, using green onions)

Calories: 435; Total fat: 31 g; Saturated fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 1363mg; Carbohydrates: 35g; Dietary fiber: 3g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 6g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

From food writer Hannah Selinger.

Tested by Olga Massov; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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