A delicious Chinese street food, crispy stuffed flatbread is beloved for its delectable taste and pleasing texture. A treat worth every bit of effort.
Note: This is a revised version of my post published in 2017. It provides more tips, process shots and a tutorial video.
Born and raised in the northwest of China, I have a deep love for flour-based dishes, particularly ones with savory fillings, such as Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings), Baozi (steamed stuffed buns), and all types of Bing (flatbread), Today’s recipe is a perfect example: Chinese crispy stuffed flatbread, a variety of Bing known as Guo Kui.
What is Guo Kui
Guo Kui/锅盔, literally meaning “pot helmet” in Chinese, is a type of pan-fried or pan-baked flatbread that is popular in the western regions of China. It can be plain or stuffed, yeasted or non-leavened.
Today’s version originated from Sichuan province. It features crispy, layered dough stuffed with a beef filling that is generously seasoned with scallions and Sichuan pepper, a mouth-numbing spice unique to Chinese cuisine (Other types of meat and/or spices can be used as substitutes).
Like Scallion Pancakes, Chinese Meat Pies, and Chinese Doughnut Sticks, crispy stuffed flatbread is a popular choice at breakfast street stands in China. They also make for a delicious lunch or dinner when accompanied by congee or soups.
Before I explain the recipe in detail, here are some useful tips to bear in mind.
- Rest the dough to increase its elasticity
- Choose ground meat with a high-fat content
- Be generous with scallions and spices
- Use a thick-bottomed skillet and control the heat to ensure crispiness
Make the dough
You only need two ingredients to make the dough: all-purpose flour and water at room temperature. It’s a simple non-yeasted dough like what you use for Chinese dumplings, but it has a higher water content and thus is much softer in texture.
🛎️ NOTE: The flour to water ratio is 5:3 by WEIGHT (e.g. 500g flour to 300g water). You may need to alter it slightly as different brands of flour have different water absorption capacities. Adjust when needed. You can also measure them by volume with cups (e.g. 4 cups flour to 1¼ cup water ), but it’s less accurate this way.
Choose one of these methods to prepare the dough:
- By hand: Add water to flour gradually while stirring with chopsticks. Then combine and knead with your hand until a rough-looking dough forms. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Knead it again until it becomes very smooth.
- With a stand mixer: Put flour and water into the mixing bowl. Use a dough hook to mix and knead on low speed for 8 minutes or so until a smooth dough forms.
Place the dough over a lightly oiled work surface and gently rub a thin layer of oil over it. Flatten the dough with your hands, then cut it into equal portions, making sure they don’t stick to each other.
Cover the dough pieces with plastic wrap and allow them to rest for 30 minutes. This process will make it more elastic and stretchy.
Prepare the filling
To stuff the crispy flatbread, you need 4 components:
- Ground meat (beef, pork, or chicken), preferably with a high-fat content, and its seasonings
- Scallions, finely chopped
- Ground Sichuan pepper, or other spices such as five spice powder, black pepper, cumin powder, etc.
- A flour & oil paste
To season the meat, mix it with Shaoxing rice wine, salt, white pepper, and water. It’s done when no more liquid can be seen and the meat turns into a sticky mass. Divide it into equal portions for easy assembly in the next step.
The flour & oil paste will be brushed over the dough, ensuring the finished bread has clear layers. It also adds some flavor too. To make it, heat the oil until smoking, then pour it over the flour in a bowl. Stir to remove any lumps.
Assemble the flatbread
To create flakey layers, the flatbread is assembled in a particular way. Here is how it’s done step-by-step.
- Flatten a piece of dough into a tennis racket shape with your fingers. Brush a layer of the flour & oil paste all over.
- Sprinkle ground Sichuan pepper (or other spices) generously.
- Place a portion of the ground meat over the racket head end of the dough, then top it with chopped scallions.
- Wrap the filling with the outer part of the dough around it.
- Roll the filled dough towards the racket handle part of the dough, until a layered cylinder forms.
- Stand up the cylinder then gently press it into a disc (don’t worry if a little filling is pushed out).
To better understand the process, please take a moment to watch the tutorial video inside the recipe card below.
Pan-fry the flatbread
Similar to how you cook Scallions Pancakes, these flatbreads are pan-fried in oil to achieve a pleasing texture: crispy outside and soft inside.
In a skillet (frying pan), preferably with a thick bottom, heat enough oil over high heat to thinly cover the entire surface. To test if the oil is ready, you can drop a small piece of dough into it. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
Gently put in the assembled flatbread. Reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to sizzle until the bottom turns golden. Then, carefully flip them over to fry the other side.
Freeze the uncooked flatbread immediately after assembly. Stack them with sheets of parchment paper in between each one, then tightly seal the entire stack with plastic wrap.
Before serving, place the frozen flatbread directly into hot oil, without defrosting, and fry until the bottom is browned. Pour in ½ cup of water, then cover the skillet with a tight lid. Cook over high heat until all the water has evaporated. Uncover and flip the flatbread to fry the other side.
This fry-steam-fry method, similar to the one used for cooking Sheng Jian Bao (pork buns), allows the flatbread to thaw thoroughly and ensures it is fried to perfection.
Other popular staples
Looking for more tasty staples to try? Check out these classics:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & if you REALLY like it, consider leaving a comment as well!
Crispy Stuffed Flatbread (Guo Kui/锅盔)
BEFORE YOU START
For the dough
- 500 g all-purpose flour - aka plain flour (see note 1)
- 300 g water
- Cooking oil - for coating the dough
For the flour & oil paste
- 3 tablespoon all-purpose flour - aka plain flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 tablespoon cooking oil
For the meat
- 280 g ground beef - or pork/chicken
- 4 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
Make the dough
- Put flour into a mixing bowl. Add water in batches while mixing with chopsticks. Then combine and knead until a soft dough forms. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Knead again until it becomes very smooth (see note 2 if using a stand mixer).
- Rub a little oil all over the dough to form a thin coating. Flatten it with your hands, then cut it into 10 equal pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
Make the flour & oil paste
- Put flour and salt into a small bowl. Then heat oil in a pan until it smokes. Pour the hot oil over the flour. Stir well to remove any lumps. Set aside.
Prepare the meat
- Put ground beef, water, Shaoxing rice wine, salt, and white pepper into a mixing bowl. Swirl with chopsticks in the same direction until the liquid is fully absorbed and the meat becomes sticky. Divide the filling into 10 portions. Set aside.
Assemble the flatbread
- With your fingers, flatten a piece of dough into a tennis racket shape (see note 3). Brush a layer of the flour & oil paste over, then sprinkle with ground Sichuan pepper. Place one portion of the meat in the middle of the racket head end of the dough, then top with chopped scallions generously.
- Wrap the meat with the outer part of the dough, then roll the stuffed dough towards the handle part of the racket while stretching it as thin as possible.
- Once a layered cylinder forms, stand it on one end then press it down with your fingers until it turns into a disc about ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick. Repeat the procedure to assemble other flatbreads.
Pan-fry the flatbread
- In a large skillet/frying pan, heat oil just enough to cover the entire surface over high heat. Once hot, put in the flatbread. Reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to fry.
- Turn the flatbread over once the first side turns golden. When the second side is done, transfer the flatbread onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.