Clover is the surprise ingredient in tasty pancakes
By Wing Tan
GREEN pancakes are made from the local vegetable cao tou (草头), or toothed burclover. They are a popular snack in Shanghai suburban areas.
Burclover, which is considered a weed in places like California, was formerly used as livestock fodder in ancient times along the Yangtze River Delta. It began appearing on dinner tables when people found it could be quickly sautéed into a tasty vegetable. It’s usually cooked with baijiu, a distilled white liquor in China, and has a certain sweet and sour taste.
Housewives now make pancakes with the plant. It’s easy to do.
First, wash the plant and then rub it in a large bowl, adding salt and monosodium glutamate until a green juice is exuded.
Then add glutinous rice flour and keep rubbing the ingredients together until a green dough forms.
Cut the dough into small pieces and flatten into rounds.
Heat oil in a pan until sizzling, and then fry the pancakes until done on both sides. The pancakes are best eaten hot.
Sometimes creative grandmothers add pork and shredded mushroom fillings to the dough, making it a richer snack.
Today in Shanghai, this old-fashioned snack can be found only in older districts, such as Qibao Old Street in the Minhang District, Xinchang Ancient Town in the Pudong New Area and suburban Jiading District.