Beautifully seasoned, crispy on the surface and fluffy inside, this leavened spring onion flatbread only takes 10 mins to cook in a pan.
Traditionally, in the North-west of China where I was born, wheat-flour based food is a dominant staple. My parents used to buy big bags of flour (25 kg each package) and make all types of noodles, buns and breads from scratch. One of my favourite staples back then was “mum’s best” flatbread (Lao Bing, 烙饼). Based on what I learnt from my mum, I created a recipe with a few twists of my own. Now my pan-fried spring onion flatbread (葱油发面饼) made from leavened dough has become my own children’s “mum’s best”.
Chinese kitchens are not usually equipped with ovens. Home cooks make bread either by steaming or by cooking in a pan / wok. There are two types of Chinese pan-cooked flatbread: unleavened ones such as Spiced beef flatbread and Chinese tortilla (Spring pancake); leavened ones like the spring onion flatbread I’m sharing today.
Same as preparing other leavened bread, the key is to leave adequate time for the dough to rise properly. The rising process takes place in two stages: one after you form the dough; the other after you shape the bread. Well-risen dough will result in a fluffy and soft texture inside the finished bread.
It takes about 40 minutes to 1.5 hours to double the dough in size during the first rising stage (depending on the room temperature). Recently I learnt from food blogger Nagi (Recipetin Eats) an unusual but very effective way to speed up the process: run an empty tumble dryer for 2 minutes, then place the bowl (dough in, covered with wet kitchen towel) inside the drum. I tested this method the other day: 40 minutes, job done!
The flatbread my mum used to make was cooked in a pan without any oil. It wasn’t seasoned with any flavour neither. I like its natural taste which has a slight hint of sweetness. Inspired by a classic street food called Cong You Bing (葱油饼, known as Scallion Pancake which is made from unleavened dough), I added a few elements to my mum’s recipe.
- Season the flatbread with spring onion, ground Sichuan pepper (or Chinese five-spice powder) and salt. Be generous with the spring onion. It’s the soul of the flavour.
- Roll, fold and coil the dough in a particular way. This gives the finished bread a layered look.
- Top the flatbread with sesame seeds for its nutty aroma.
- Then fry it with a little oil to create a tasty, crispy crust.
I often serve this pan-fried spring onion flatbread for dinner, along with soup (or Chinese congee) and other savoury dishes. It tastes best when freshly cooked. I also like it cold as a snack.
Have a great time in your kitchen!
More Chinese bread recipes on the blog: