Spiced beef flatbread (香酥牛肉饼)

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort. 

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

Once during dinner time in our Red House, we voted on our favourite homemade dishes. Everyone named his/her top three choices. Among 12 answers, one particular type of food proved to be very popular. It was flour based dishes  with meaty filling, such as Jiaozi (dumplings), Baozi (stuffed buns), Roulong (Meat dragon), etc. Today I’d like to introduce a type of Chinese stuffed flatbread (the favourite food of my culinary fan No.1). The dough is filled with minced beef, spiced with Sichuan pepper and then fried in a pan. Crispy, flavourful and filling, it’s a treat worth every bit of effort.

Spiced beef flatbread (香酥牛肉饼) is a popular street food which originated in Xi’an, a historic city where the famous Terra Cotta Army was discovered. You can find the most scrumptious lamb or beef based dishes there thanks to its large Chinese Muslim community. My mum was born and raised in the heart of Xi’an. I used to go there during the summer holidays to visit my aunties and uncles. This experience gave me many opportunities to explore the hidden gems of street food in Xi’an.

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

Pan-fried stuffed flatbread has many versions across China: different fillings, divers seasoning and various methods to fold or seal the dough. What makes spiced beef flatbread stand out, in my opinion, is its tangy flavour created by freshly ground spice. My favourite spice for this dish is Sichuan pepper. The numbing sensation that it brings to your mouth makes this flatbread unique and unforgettable. For best results, please use freshly ground Sichuan pepper. Read my earlier post on how to grind it here.

If you are not used to the flavour of Sichuan pepper (it’s definitely a acquired taste), I’ve got good news for you. Through experiments, I found three other common spices which work very well for this recipe: Chinese five-spice powder, cumin powder or freshly ground black pepper. No matter which one you prefer using, the golden rules are: 1. Be generous with the spice. 2. Sprinkle it directly onto the dough instead of mixing it into the meat.

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

The dough used in spiced beef flatbread is the most basic one (flour + water), super easy to prepare. Just make sure you give it plenty of time to rest, otherwise it won’t become elastic enough to manipulate with your hands (you don’t need a rolling pin for this recipe). I brush some flour & oil mix on each dough to ensure the finished bread has clear layers. And it adds some flavour too. However, it’s acceptable if you wish to brush only some oil instead.

When it comes to frying, a good quality frying pan with a thick bottom works better as its temperature rises more slowly and it distributes heat more evenly than thin-bottomed ones.

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

That’s all I have to say. I guess you might find this recipe a bit intimidating (I know, it’s quite long compare to others). But don’t be discouraged, it’s actually not as difficult as it appears to be. Just follow the instructions step by step. I’m sure you will get the hang of it very quickly. And after tasting it, I’m certain you will want to make more.

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

Spiced beef flatbread (香酥牛肉饼)
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Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 10 flatbread (about 10cm/4inches in diameter)

Spiced beef flatbread (香酥牛肉饼)

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 500g/3.75 cups plain flour(all purpose flour)
  • 300ml/1.25 cups water (see note 1)
  • Vegetable oil for coating the dough
  • For the beef
  • 300g/10oz minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • For the flour & oil mix
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Additional ingredients
  • 4 stalks spring onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground Sichuan pepper (or other spices, see note 2)
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Put flour, water and salt in a deep bowl. Mix and knead with your hand (or with an electric mixer) until the dough is soft and smooth. Cover the bowl and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Then rub some oil all around the dough. Transfer it onto a chopping board (or a work surface). Flatten the dough with your hands then cut into 10 equal portions. Cover with clingfilm. Leave to rest for a further 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, Prepare the beef: place minced beef, water, rice wine, salt and white pepper in a bowl. Swirl constantly in the same direction until no more liquid can be seen. Add oil and stir to combine. Divide the meat into 10 portions. Set aside.
  3. Make the flour & oil mix: Put the flour into a bowl. Heat up the oil in a pan until it smokes. Pour hot oil onto the flour. Stir with a spoon. Set aside (see note 3).
  4. Assemble the flatbread: Take on piece of dough. Flatten it with your fingers into a tennis racket shape (see note 4). Coat it with the flour & oil mix using a kitchen brush. Sprinkle with ground Sichuan pepper. Place one portion of the meat on the racket head end of the dough, then top with spring onion. Wrap the meat with the outer part of the pastry (see photo in the post), then roll the dough into a cylinder shape. Stand the cylinder on one end. Press it down with your fingers until it’s about 1 cm/0.4 inches thick. Sprinkle with spring onion if you wish. Repeat the procedure.
  5. Fry the flatbread: In a frying pan, heat up some oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Place the flatbreads into the pan one by one. Cook on a medium low heat. Turn the flatbread over when the first side becomes golden brown. When the second side is done, transfer the flatbread onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Repeat the procedure to cook the rest of the flatbread. Best serve it hot.

Notes

1. The flour and water ratio may vary slightly depends on the brand. Adjust accordingly. The finished dough should be very soft but not sticky.

2. You may replace Sichuan pepper with Chinese five-spice, cumin powder or freshly ground black pepper. They are equally delicious.

3. The flour & oil mix is to ensure the finished bread has clear layers. And it adds some flavour too. It can be substituted with pure oil if you wish.

4. Pour a few drops of oil onto the dough if it becomes sticky.

https://redhousespice.com/spiced-beef-flatbread/

Hope you find this post interesting. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other questions. Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

Another mouth-watering street food:

Chinese pork burger (Rou Jia Mo 肉夹馍)

For those who love beef dishes:

Black pepper beef stir-fry (黑椒牛柳)

A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.
A popular street food from the historic city of Xi’an, spiced beef flatbread is crispy, flavourful and very comforting. A treat worth every bit of effort.

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9 thoughts

  1. Wow, this looks really good. Can you use something else instead of the rice wine? I’d love to make this now but I just got braces :'(. When I make it, I’ll definitely tell you how it was!

    1. Hi Cynthia! Thank you for stopping by! I never baked them in the oven. Technically, the flatbread can be cooked that way but the result (the look and the texture) will be quite different I should imagine. The contact with oil in the frying pan (equally for both sides) makes the flatbread very crispy which is one of the key features of this delicacy. Moreover, it’s much faster to cook it in a pan. I will test oven method when I have a new oven fitted (my current one is not accurate enough for serious blog recipe testing) and update the info. Have a great day!

  2. I absolutely love getting you emails. I could spend hours just looking through all of your mouth watering recipes. Can’t wait to try this one.

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