I'll be the first to admit that I like holidays for all the wrong reasons. It would be a stretch to call me a Christian, but that doesn't stop me from partaking in the merriment associated with Christ's birthday (especially the presents). I don't relish opening my front door to costumed little kiddies on Halloween, but I buy bags of candy anyway, for the leftovers. And I love that culturally sanctioned gorgefest known as Thanksgiving, but I usually forget about the "giving thanks" part.
This year, though, with a nudge from Meeta at What's for Lunch, Honey?, I'd like to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving, for once. And the person I'd like to single out for a big, warm 'n fuzzy "thank you" is none other than my husband, Brian—truly, an invisible force behind this blog. Brian doesn't help write the entries, nor—with the notable exception of a kick-ass omelet—does he cook. But the fact is, whipping up all these tasty dishes wouldn't be fun if I were the only one around to eat them. And Brian is far more than an enormously enthusiastic taster; he's my drink-pourer, dishwasher, cheerleader, and constant companion in the kitchen. As I mince, stir, braise and sauté, he shadows me like, well, a shadow (but one with really big hair). So Brian, this post's for you.
As a college senior, Brian spent a year abroad in Beijing. Now, in addition to being a highly skilled dishwasher, Brian's a fabulous storyteller—and over the past decade, I've been treated to a host of enthralling tales about this Brooklyn boy in China's capital. There was his appearance in a Chinese soap opera (he played an evil American lawyer). His hero's role in breaking up a nasty bar fight. And the time he and his buddies were roped, by some shady gangster types, into peddling "American Taste" fortune cookies to restaurants ("All the finest restaurants in America serve them!"). I swear, this really happened.
One of Brian's most beloved Beijing memories involves a street food properly known as Jian Bing, but referred to by droll foreign exchange students as the Egg McMao. Brian insists, quite emphatically, that he and his friends coined this name themselves. If he's correct, then they really started something—I Googled "Egg McMao" and found that the term is now quite common. Well, I suppose someone had to have been the first to bestow it, so I'll give my husband the benefit of the doubt. (Though if you're aware of the moniker's use before 1995, give me a shout and I'll happily set him straight.)
But anyway, Egg McMao, Jian Bing, whatever you want to call it, is a supremely satisfying snack that Brian's been talking about for years, but, for whatever reason, we never attempted to recreate. It's one of those food memories that's so wrapped up in a formative larger experience—Brian's time in China—that I suppose it never occurred to us to extricate it from its original context.
Fully aware that an Egg McMao made in our cozy Queens kitchen could never match that of Beijing's street vendors, we nevertheless plumbed Brian's memory to come up with a reasonable imitation. He described a crepe topped with scrambled egg, chili paste, cilantro, scallion, and a "crunchy thing," then folded over like a burrito. We made a crepe batter with whole wheat flour (I later learned real Jian Bings use millet flour), substituted the decidedly inauthentic Thai Sriracha sauce for the chili paste, and, because Brian couldn't remember the particulars of the "crunchy thing," settled on fried wonton wrappers for the role.
Well, I've never had a real Jian Bing, but I can say the thing we whipped up in our kitchen was mighty tasty. And Brian loved it too, even though it wasn't quite the Egg McMao of his memory.
QUEENS-STYLE EGG MCMAO
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
Combine ingredients into a smooth batter.
2 chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Sriracha sauce, to taste
4 deep-fried wonton wrappers
Heat a large, well-oiled skillet. When pan is hot, pour in 1/2-1/3 cup crepe batter and swirl so it covers the bottom of the pan. After a few seconds, crack an egg over the crepe, and scramble carefully with a fork or whisk. When egg is just about set, top with half the scallions and cilantro, hot sauce to taste, and two wonton wrappers (place these in the middle). Carefully fold the crepe around the wonton wrappers and serve.
Be sure to check out the Thanksgiving event at What's For Lunch, Honey?
Categories: Main Dishes, Appetizers and Small Plates, Breakfast, Sandwiches, Travel
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