It’s a question we all ask ourselves at this time of year: what to do for Mother’s Day. Well, more specifically, what to eat for Mother’s Day.
What is the dish, the food that you are going to make for the mother figure in your life? We asked some local chefs and this is what they said.
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For my mother (Mama) I would make little spring onion pancakes. Scallion pancakes for a few reasons. (1) Breakfast food – my mom routinely eats a banana and half an apple for breakfast, but I found she likes to eat a full breakfast during family vacations. (2) Savory – scallion pancakes are crispy, savory and with a bit of chewiness. She’s one of those salty, umami-loving people and this food fulfills that perfectly. (3) Scallions – the amount of vegetables this woman eats, you would think she was a rabbit. Scallions are a great flavor addition, but I like to think she sees green and thinks, “Okay, at least it has veggies in it.”
That will cover the scallion section, but then I would also make them smaller than usual. Why? Because my health nut of a mother would chase away a pancake bigger than her head. We make them small so she can enjoy them without hesitation.
To the woman I try to love, impress and be every day, I say thank you x 1,000 mini spring pancakes.
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Small Scallion Pancakes
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup boiling water + extra if needed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Optional ¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 3-4 green onions halved and finely chopped or however you like. (Make sure to use the white! Not just the green)
- For the dough: put the flour in a heatproof bowl. Pour into boiling water. Stir thoroughly.
- When the mixture has cooled sufficiently, knead into a smooth dough. (Adjust as needed. The dough should be soft but not sticky). Let rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Make the filling: Mix flour, oil, salt and optional 5-spice powder.
- Knead the dough again after 30 minutes and roll it out into a thin rectangle
- Evenly distribute the filling mixture and sprinkle the spring onions (green onions) on top.
- Roll it up into a rope. And cut the rope into 4-8 pieces. The more pieces you cut, the smaller the pancakes!
- Stand the cut pieces upright so you can see the buns. Flatten with a rolling pin to the desired thickness (the thicker the pancake, the tougher and longer you have to bake. The thinner the pancake, the crispier).
- Heat oil in frying pan over high heat. Place the rolled pancakes on the pan and turn the heat to medium-high.
- Turn 2-3 times until both sides are golden brown.
Enjoy fresh! You can also freeze uncooked dough with parchment paper in between. Cooking from frozen.
Wilberto Sauceda, executive chef of The Greenville Drive and Fluor Field
My mother is very hard to please. When I cook for her, she’s a critic.
Since she is still in the Stone Age (says humorously) she believes that everything should be cooked with wood, bricks and fire. She likes whole fish, not very big here in the south, with the whole head and eyes, etc.
Usually red snapper with escabeche sauce on a bed of jasmine rice and green banana chips. Very traditional.
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Whole Snapper with Escabeche Sauce and Jasmine Rice
- Olive oil
- sour orange
- Lemon juice
- Garlic, finely chopped
- fresh thyme
- 4 cups jasmine rice
- 8 cups of water
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 ounces fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons Moroccan spices
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 cabbage, julienned
- 1 chayote, julienned
- 1 bell pepper, julienned
- 1 red onion, julienned
- 1 yellow onion, julienned
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup herb butter
For the fish: marinate for 24 hours in marinade. Fry for 7 minutes per side in a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil.
For rice: cook on high heat for 18 minutes for the first 5 minutes and then on very low heat for the rest of the cooking time. Add thyme and fluff.
For escabeche: fry the vegetables on low heat for 5 minutes. At the end add vinegar and herb butter and cook until just al dente.
Gianna Smutzki, Chef Rick Erwin’s West End Grille
My mother and grandmother played a big part in how I became a chef. My parents divorced when I was three and my mother raised me with the help of my grandmother. At a young age, my grandmother had me in the kitchen to help her cook, but most of all to teach me how to bake. Around the age of nine, my grandparents moved, and it was just my mother and me. She was exactly what you think of as a single mom, hardworking and doing everything possible to take care of me, even if that meant working the afternoon shifts for a little more money. She was out a lot for dinner, and my babysitters stuck to the basics—mac and cheese, ramen noodles, and pizza—which got boring after a while, so I started teaching myself how to cook.
As I got older I stayed for myself, my friends and my mother. It became my love language for people in my life.
If I could cook my mom anything for Mother’s Day it would be curry as she has never had it and has been asking for it for years! It’s a simple dish, but it’s the perfect comfort food, with ginger, onions, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, garam masala, chickpeas and, of course, butter.
Chef Gianna’s Butter Chickpeas
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons ginger, crushed
- 3 cups tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
- ½ cup whipped cream
- Melt butter over medium heat. Sweat herbs, onion, garlic and ginger. Once they are soft, add the tomatoes and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Let it simmer for a while and serve.
Dayna Lee, Chef and Owner, Comal 864
If I could make my mom something special on Mother’s Day it would be my shrimp and fish ceviche. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Mexico meant that seafood was not only plentiful, but also top-notch. Plump Gulf shrimp and gorgeous flaky white fish are cooked in freshly squeezed lime juice, then blended with the Mexican holy trinity: tomatoes, onions, and green peppers.
Not only is this dish one of my mom’s favorites, but it speaks volumes about the regional cuisine of the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas. It’s light, but filling. It’s spicy, but falls apart in your mouth.
Making such a raw seafood dish, accompanied by tostadas (fried corn tortillas) or saltwater crackers, takes me back to the late summer nights on the beach on South Padre Island. This dish screams beach days, complete with sunscreen and sand through my hair.
Shrimp and Fish Ceviche
- 12-14 king prawns
- 1 pound white fish that flakes easily, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- ½ white or purple onion, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, diced and pitted (if you want heat, save the seeds and veins)
- 1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
- 13 limes, squeezed
- Salt to taste (1 tablespoon should be enough)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Cut seafood into small pieces and squeeze the limes over the seafood until fully saturated. Cover and refrigerate while you collect and cut the remaining vegetables.
- Remove the dish from the fridge and add the Mexican Holy Trinity, salt and pepper. Serve with crackers, tostadas or tortillas with corn chips.
- *Optional additions: chopped mango, chopped carrot, serrano (if you like a lot of heat)
- *Optional sauce toppings: Tabasco, Maggi sauce, soy sauce or Clamato
Shaun Garcia, Chef, Soby’s New South Cuisine
I immediately think of Fried Chicken, because that’s what she taught me to make. When I cook her fried chicken I always hope “I pass the test” and make her proud that she taught me that recipe. Wherever I am, I’m going to my happy place when I make that recipe. It automatically reminds me of my mother”
Shaun Garcia’s Crispy Baked Chicken With Black Pepper Honey
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 liter of water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons Crystal® Hot Sauce
- 6 airline chicken breasts, soaked in brine
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups of flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Honey from black pepper:
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of sourwood honey
- For the brine: Place water, salt, bay leaves and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from the stove and cool it to below 40°F in the refrigerator or by whipping it over an ice bath until cool. Add the hot sauce to the cooled brine. Submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for 8-12 hours
- For the Black Pepper Honey: Combine the honey and cracked pepper in a container. Let the mixture steep for 4 hours or overnight.
- For the chicken: Preheat fryer to 350°F. Set up a breading station: Season flour with salt and pepper and place in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Mix the milk and buttermilk together in another shallow bowl or pie plate. Coat the chicken in the flour, then in the buttermilk mixture, and again in the flour. Carefully add the breaded chicken breasts to the fryer, being careful not to overcrowd them. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the fryer and drain.
- Finish the dish: Place hot chicken on a plate. Drizzle with black pepper honey to add a touch of Carolina. Serve immediately
Lillia Callum-Penso covers food for the Greenville News. She loves the stories recipes tell and finds inspiration in the people behind them. When she’s not exploring local food, she can be found running, both for fun and to keep up with her 6-year-old twins. Reach her on [email protected]or at 864-478-5872, or on Facebook at facebook.com/lillia.callumpenso†
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