These Chinese squash pancakes, traditionally made with a Cantonese squash, are whipped up with more readily available zucchini and contain peanuts, scallions, egg, and soy sauce. A marvelously savory appetizer.
This dish, a specialty of the Chiu Chow, calls for a vegetable native to southern China, the water squash, or soi guah in Cantonese. It gets its name from the fact that it is customarily planted along riverbanks, lakeshores, and the edges of fish ponds so that its vines can draw nourishing water. It’s a summer vegetable and only occasionally available in Chinese markets, but zucchini can be used in its place. The squashes have a similar texture and both are green and long, though the water squash tends to be larger, growing to 18 inches in length with a diameter of more than 3 inches. Look for zucchini about 7 inches long and weighing about 12 ounces each.–Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
Chinese Squash Pancakes
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 25 M
- Serves 4 to 6
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Recipe Testers Reviews
I made these as part of a Chinese New Year brunch that also included Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing. As suggested, I made this dish with zucchini instead of the hard-to-find and out-of-season water squash. I sought out zucchini the size and weight described, which was not hard to do. With a savory pancake such as this one, I'm always concerned about whether it will hold together, from mixing bowl to pan to dish. This batter worked beautifully and our pancakes were surprisingly easy to maneuver, visually pleasing, and a delicious melding of zucchini, peanuts, and egg, accented by scallions and soy. It was appealing in the combinations of textures and flavors.
A friend with whom I cooked did get a little bit caught up in the directions of the multiple inversions of plates in step 4. Once done properly, it was easy from there on out! I initially wondered whether a wok would be the right pan, and it turned out to be just right. The pancakes moved easily in our well-seasoned wok. We made the larger version described, then cut them into wedges. The next time, I'll try the option of smaller, individual-size pancakes as suggested in the recipe. Though these were served as part of a Chinese brunch, they would also work well as an appetizer, passed or plated, if made in the smaller individual-serving size.
The flavors are fresh and not predictable: The peanuts, for example, are not immediately obvious, creating a surprise when first tasted. This leads to a note of caution regarding nut allergies: Since it’s not evident there are peanuts in these pancakes, it’s especially important to check with guests and friends before serving, in case of health issues they might not think to disclose if they assume the pancake is a squash-and-egg concoction.