Best-loved recipes from Charmaine Solomon, 176pp.
by Charmaine Solomon
Lansdowne, Sydney, 1983
Cooking on page 32
I’ve had this book for many years and can no longer remember how I came to own it. I have at least five of her books, so most likely I bought it secondhand to add to my Solomon collection.
Charmaine is now in her 80s and the author of 31 cookbooks, with most focusing on Asian cuisine. The Sydney Morning Herald calls her ‘the queen of Asian cooking in Australia’.
This book is a compilation of columns she wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and the National Times. Each column has a chatty introduction, usually about how the recipe(s) can be used or how to treat the main ingredient.
I’m always surprised by the diversity of ingredients I encounter on page 32s. Today finds us cooking with chokos. It’s one of three recipes she shared in that column.
Savoury choko pancakes
1 large or 2 medium sized chokos
1 small onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (2 oz) flour (preferably wholemeal)
oil for frying
Peel the chokos unless very young and tender. Grate coarsely and measure 2 cups grated choko. Combine in a bowl with all other ingredients.
Heat just enough oil to cover base of frying pan and when hot add large spoonfuls of the mixture, spreading with back of spoon to form a well-shaped pancake about 10 cm (4 in) across.
Fry over medium heat until bottoms of pancakes are golden brown, then turn with egg slice and fry until other side is brown. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot.
How it played out
I had one large choko (cost me a dollar at the Asian green grocer’s) so made this as written, except for oiling the pan. I just gave it a quick spray.
A while back, I bought a new, non-stick pancake griddle, so it seemed silly to add oil that wasn’t needed. Given that I didn’t oil the pan, I didn’t need to drain these on absorbent paper.
We ate quite a few variations of choko when we lived in Burma. Our cook—yes, we had an amazing Burmese cook named Wah Htoo, but more about her another time—could create magic with almost any ingredient.
Chokos are bland, cheap and useful. They get their flavour from accompanying ingredients, so can be used to fill out pies, casseroles and the like.
This recipe is super easy to make and great for anyone with a glut of chokos, but probably not your everyday option. The flour and onion don’t offer a lot of additional flavour.
We had the pancakes as a snack, but I think they would be better as a side to a roast dinner. Charmaine suggested both uses. And I always wonder if this recipe really was one of her best-loved as the title suggests.
And finally, be sure to check out my Where to Next? travel blog.