It’s a question we are all asking 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 item that you will make for the mother figure in your life? We asked some local chefs and here’s what they said.
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For my mother (Mama) I would make tiny scallion pancakes. Scallion pancakes for a few reasons. (1) Breakfast Food – my mother routinely eats a banana and half an apple for breakfast, but I noticed she likes to eat a full breakfast on family vacations. (2) Savory – scallion pancakes are crispy, savory, with a little bit of chewiness. She’s one of those salty, umami-loving people and this food perfectly satisfies that. (3) Scallions – the amount of vegetables this woman eats you’d think she was a rabbit. Scallions are a great flavor add, but I like to think she sees green and thinks “okay, at least this has veggies in it.”
That covers the scallion pancake part, but then I’d also make them smaller than normal. Why? Because my health nut of a mom would shoo away a pancake larger than her head. We make them tiny so she can enjoy them without hesitation.
To the woman I strive to love, to impress, to be every day, I say thank you x 1,000 mini scallion pancakes.
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Tiny Scallion Pancakes
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup boiling water + extra if needed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon of your favorite oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Optional ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 3 – 4 green onions split in half and chopped finely or however you’d like. (Make sure to use the whites! Not just the greens)
- For the dough: put the flour into a heatproof bowl. Pour in boiling water. Stir thoroughly.
- When cool enough, knead the mixture into a smooth dough. (Adjust as needed. Dough should be soft but not sticky). Leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Make the filling: mix together flour, oil, salt, and optional 5 spice powder.
- After 30 minutes, knead dough again and roll out into thin rectangle
- Spread the filling mixture evenly and then sprinkle in the scallions (green onions).
- 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 up so you can see the rolls. Flatten with rolling pin to desired thickness (the thicker the pancake, the chewier it is and longer you’ll have to fry. The thinner the pancake, the crispier it will be).
- Heat oil in frying pan on high. Place rolled pancakes on pan and turn heat to medium.
- Flip 2-3 times until both sides are golden brown.
Enjoy fresh! You can also freeze uncooked dough with parchment paper in between. Cook from frozen.
Wilberto Sauceda, executive chef of The Greenville Drive and Fluor Field
My mom is very hard to please. When I cook for her, she’s a critic.
Since she’s still in the stone age, (said with humor) she thinks everything has to be cooked with wood, bricks and fire. She loves 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.
Whole Snapper with Escabeche sauce and Jasmine rice
- Olive oil
- Sour orange
- Lemon juice
- Garlic, minced
- Fresh thyme
- 4 cups jasmine rice
- 8 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 ounces fresh rosemary
- 2 Tablespoons of Moroccan spice
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 head 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 in marinade for 24 hours. Pan fry in a blend of olive oil and vegetable oil for 7 minutes per side.
For rice: cook 18 minutes on high fire for the first 5 minutes and then very low heat for the rest of the cook time. Add thyme and fluff.
For escabeche: sauté veggies on low heat for 5 minutes. Add vinegar and herb butter at the end and cook until just al dente.
Gianna Smutzki, executive chef Rick Erwin’s West End Grille
My mom and my grandmother played a large role 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 helping her cook but mostly teaching me how to bake. Around the age of nine, my grandparents moved away, and it was just my mom and me. She was exactly what you think of as a single mother, hard-working and doing everything to provide for me, even if it meant working the afternoon shifts for a little more money. She was gone a lot for dinner time and my babysitters kept to the basics – mac and cheese, ramen noodles, and pizza – which became boring after a while, so I started teaching myself how to cook.
As I got older, I continued to for myself, my friends, and my mom. 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 because she has never had it and has been asking for it for years! It’s a simple dish but is the perfect comfort food, containing ginger, onions, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, garam masala, chickpeas, and of course butter.
Chef Gianna’s Butter Chickpeas
- 4 tablespoons 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 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 teaspoons ginger, crushed
- 3 cups tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Melt butter over medium heat. Sweat spices, onion, garlic and ginger. Once softened, add tomatoes and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Simmer a bit longer and serve.
Dayna Lee, chef and owner, Comal 864
If I could make my mother anything 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 abundant, but top tier. Plump Gulf shrimp, and gorgeous flaky white fish are cooked in freshly squeezed lime juice and then mixed with the Mexican Holy Trinity: tomatoes, onions and green peppers.
This dish is not only one of my mother’s favorites, but it speaks volumes about the regional cuisine of the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas. It is light, but filling. It is tangy, but falls apart in your mouth.
Making a raw seafood dish like this, accompanied with tostadas (deep fried corn tortillas) or saltine crackers takes me back to late summer nights on the beach of South Padre Island. This dish screams beach days, complete with sunburns and sand throughout my hair.
Shrimp and Fish Ceviche
- 12-14 jumbo shrimp
- 1 pound of any white fish that flakes easily, sliced into small bite-size pieces
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- ½ white or purple onion, diced finely
- 1 jalapeno, diced and deseeded (if you want heat, keep the seeds and veins)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped fine
- 13 limes, juiced
- Salt to taste (1 Tablespoon should suffice)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Chop seafood into small pieces and juice the limes over the seafood until completely saturated. Cover and put into the fridge while you gather and chop the remaining veggies.
- Remove the dish from the fridge and incorporate the Mexican Holy Trinity, salt and pepper. Serve with crackers, tostadas or corn chip tortillas.
- *Optional add-ons: chopped mango, finely shredded carrots, serrano (if you like lots of heat)
- *Optional sauce toppings: Tabasco, Maggi sauce, soy sauce or Clamato
Shaun Garcia, Executive Chef, Soby’s New South Cuisine
Immediately I think about Fried Chicken because that’s what she taught me to make. When I cook her fried chicken, I’m always hoping “I pass the test” and make her proud that she taught me that recipe. No matter where I am, I go to my happy place when I’m making that recipe. It automatically makes me think of my mom”
Shaun Garcia’s Crispy Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Honey
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 quart water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons Crystal® Hot Sauce
- 6 airline chicken breasts, soaked in brine
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups flour
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Black Pepper Honey:
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup 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 chill it to below 40°F in the refrigerator or by whisking it over an ice bath until cool. Add the hot sauce to the chilled 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 4 hours or overnight.
- For the Chicken: Preheat fryer to 350°F. Set up a breading station: season the 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. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then in the buttermilk mixture, and in the flour again. Gently add the breaded chicken breasts to the fryer, being careful not to over-crowd them. Fry for approximately 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 the Carolinas. 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 pleasure and to keep up with her 6-year-old twins. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 864-478-5872, or on Facebook at facebook.com/lillia.callumpenso.
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