Wilson Tang is the owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest restaurant in Manhattan's Chinatown, with multiple locations across New York City, Philadelphia, and Shenzhen, China. When news of the novel coronavirus first started growing, Tang took to social media to decry the anti-asian sentiment he was seeing in the States. More recently he's been acting as chauffeur to his staff, driving them from home to work and back again so they can avoid crowded public transit. Otherwise, he is feeding and entertaining his two young children at home, and counting the days until he can open his restaurants to full capacity again.
When my wife and I are going for affordable and easy, we often break out the wok to make something like a stir-fry. You know, you can take frozen vegetables—a few frozen peas, some corn, maybe some frozen carrots or red pepper—add a fresh onion, leftover rice, maybe crack an egg on top of it and you have fried rice for less than, like, $5.
But, I'm a big baseball fan—I yearn for the time we can go to a baseball game again and have a classic American hot dog. It's the nation's pastime! But since the quarantine hit, we've been cooking and eating a lot more at home with the kids, and one of the things that we've been making for a quick meal is scallion pancake–wrapped hot dogs. I always have hot dogs in my house, but the buns are usually overlooked: we forgot to buy them or they've gotten stale or moldy, so I thought it would be kind of cool to make scallion pancake hot dogs.
This is kind of me bridging cultures a bit. As an Asian-American and American-Chinese, I kind of bridge both cultures in my daily life, as well as in the ways that we cook and make food. The scallion pancake is something we make at the restaurant: it's flaky, it's fried, and it works great in place of a hot dog bun. It makes me think of pigs-in-a-blanket.
You can find frozen scallion pancakes at almost any Asian supermarket, but we've given in to the trend of growing scallions at home: we take the roots of scallions we bought at the supermarket, put them in water, and now we have, like, a little scallion farm on our window sill. So we've been using our homegrown scallions and making scallion pancakes by hand.
It's such an easy formula. You combine a little bit of flour, water, salt, sugar, and oil. We make our scallion pancakes by rolling out a portion of dough and then I make a sort-of roux with equal parts all-purpose flour and oil. You spread that paste on the dough, sprinkle the chopped scallions on it, then roll it into a log. Roll the log into a spiral, and then roll it out again with a pin. Adding the flour-oil paste makes the layers really separate, almost like puff pastry.
For the hot dog, I'm a big fan of Brooklyn Hot Dog Company. My wife always wants to make something for the kids that's non-GMO, pasture-raised, etc. so we can feel good about the fact they're eating it; and that's what this company makes. It also has a really good snap and they make their hot dogs extra long, which I like. On their packaging they suggest that you bring a pan of shallow water to a boil and you just drop in the hot dog and let it simmer until the water evaporates. It gets a little crisp on the skin and it really enhances the snap of the casing.
And here's the thing: It works well without toppings. It's already salty from the hot dog, crispy from the scallion pancake, which also adds this aromatic quality. But, my kids love putting Dijon mustard on theirs. A little aioli—or, um, really just mayonnaise mixed with a little cayenne pepper—is a fun addition too.
This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious