My dad insisted that all the girls in the family must learn to make this unique pancake roll and pass it down the generations to come.
How old were you when you started cooking? 25 years old
Personal wish related to cooking: To document and re-invent all the recipes handed down by my family.
Gina Choong , The Aunty who loves to cook for the family, and the mascot at Kitchen Capers.
This dish does not have a name. Its recipe has been in our family for three generations. It is not a dish one can simply buy from a shop as no one sells it. The original recipe was passed down from my paternal grandmother. Hers consisted of just three ingredients – tapioca flour, water and eggs. She used to make this dish for her family in Taiping, Malaysia. When my dad left Malaysia to settle in Singapore, he taught my mom how to make it. Here it is – the one and only Hakka Pancake Roll!
When my mom inherited the recipe, she made some improvisations by adding fried shallots, dried shrimps, fresh spring onions and sometimes, a bit of chopped chilli padi.
My dad insisted that all the girls in the family must learn to make this unique pancake roll and pass it down the generations to come. My eldest daughter, Natasha, already knew how to cook it when she was 14 years old. When my younger daughter, Melody, is ready, she, too will learn how to cook this. With this recipe recorded on My Singapore Food, it will help with keeping this tradition going!
When my mom taught me how to cook this dish, there was no real recipe in terms of measuring the ratio of water to flour to eggs. The method and measurements were mostly made up by gut feeling and experience. The secret ingredient is not in the recipe itself, but in the skill of rolling the pancake while it is still piping hot in the wok. That was the most difficult bit to master, but practice makes perfect!
The perfection is in the texture of the roll – the outside, crispy and firm, and the inside, tender and soft. The amount of filling must be just right – if it is too much, the pancake will not roll well, if it is too little, that is just plain stingy!
Time plays an important role in this recipe. The pancake roll must be served immediately after cooking. It cannot be made ahead of time or the day before, as it will lose its perfect flavor and texture of being crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Just like life, it is important to enjoy the present, and enjoy the pancake roll now, instead of planning only for the future and lose the flavour of the moment!