A long time ago when Chef had hair and he and his wife lived in Edmonton, they lived down the back alley from a wonderful local restaurant called "The Happy Garden". Chef Siu To and his wife Yaanar ran the place and it was both THE neighbourhood treat and one of Edmonton's quietly shared delights. The décor wasn't much to look at, and the table service could be a bit sketchy, but the food was always, ALWAYS, fabulously perfect.
The restaurant was not terribly busy in its early days, but one afternoon the Edmonton Journal food critic, Ms Judy Schultz, went in for an early dinner and the next day there was a glowing review of the food in the newspaper. All of a sudden there were lines out the door on many nights, and Chef To and the whole crew just worked like demons. The restaurant was greatly loved for many years. It has, sadly, closed now due to a new and very greedy landlord.
Chef To would not share recipes ... they were, after all, his livelihood, as they are for any restaurant. Judy Schultz finally managed to pry ONE recipe out of him ... for these delicious green onion cakes ... and I am delighted to share the recipe, and this story, with my students each semester.
Chef To's Green Onion Cakes caught on so well that other restaurants in the city decided to try and copy them (with mixed ... VERY mixed ... results). The quality improved as everyone worked hard to get it right, or develop their own twist on a revered recipe, and today in Mayfair Park in Edmonton in the summertime there is a Green Onion Cake Festival! This is Chef To's gift to Edmonton and Canada ... I call it "Edmonton's National Dish".
Here is the basic recipe. Print it out and be brave! Try this at home BUT be sure to get the right ingredients ... no trying to fake it, especially
Here are the steps ... revealed by our Chef students.
Assemble the requirements and follow the recipe for making the basic dough.
Roll the dough out wide and flat and rectangular, as Chef Sarah is demonstrating.
Fill the dough with green onion bits, as Chef Sarah is starting,
Cut the dough up into thick slices as shown by Chef Anakin .
Squish the slices in your hands. To start, Chef suggests that you align the tail end of the dough with your thumb ... so if you are right-handed, the dough is put into your LEFT hand and the end of the dough is at 9 o'clock, pointing towards 12. Squash it with your RIGHT hand on top, turning counter-clockwise. Then take each partially-flattened spiral and roll it flat between two layers of waxed paper.
Use some of the shortening/sesame mixture to do the frying in.
Cut into 4 quarter-portions,
And here we are ... another very satisfied customer (Ms Laura Houghton, our senior V-P) being our more-than-willing taste tester and product evaluator.
Well done everyone!