An informative guide to making scallion pancakes. This recipe shows you how to make them flaky, tasty and crispy. Dipping sauce suggestions are also provided.
Scallion pancakes (Cong You Bing, 葱油饼) are a very popular staple food in China. You can find them both at humble street stalls and in high-end restaurants. Earlier I wrote a recipe on the leavened version of scallion pancakes. Today I’d like to share my tips on how to cook the unleavened version which is thinner and takes less time to prepare. Very flaky, tasty and crispy, they’re truly a delight to enjoy.
How to make them flaky
Well-made scallion pancakes should have many layers when torn open. To achieve the ultimate flakiness, I suggest that you follow these tips:
- Flatten the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle shape, then roll it up from the shorter side into a rope. This is to create maximum layers for the finished pancakes.
- To prevent the layers from sticking to each other, you need to: 1. Add flour to melted lard (or coconut oil for vegetarian) to make a paste. 2. Brush a generous amount of lard paste onto the flattened dough. Widely used in traditional Chinese cuisine, lard has a less liquid consistency than cooking oil when the temperature drops. So it won’t flow out while you shape the pancakes. Coconut oil shares the same feature.
How to make them tasty
Scallion pancakes shouldn’t taste plain. To make them delectable, remember the following tips:
- Be generous with the scallions. Sprinkle as much as you like. The oniony flavour is this pancake’s key feature after all.
- Ground Sichuan pepper gives an extra zing. If you wish, use other ground spices which are available. It can be Chinese five-spice, black pepper, cumin, etc.
- Adjust the quantity of salt. Scallion pancakes make a great breakfast or an afternoon snack on its own. In this case, you may make it saltier. If you have it as a staple to accompany a savoury main course, use less salt instead.
How to make them crispy
A crispy crust is visually appetizing and pleasant on the palate. To ensure the best possible outcome, you need to:
- Coat the frying pan with enough cooking oil.
- Heat up the pan to a high temperature when you place in the pancakes. But remember to turn it down a little afterward. Otherwise, you might have uncooked bits in the middle.
- Flip over the pancakes several times to ensure even crispiness on both sides.
Serve them with a dipping sauce
As I mentioned above, scallion pancakes are often consumed as breakfast in China, along with Chinese rice congee, marbled tea egg, etc. It’s great to serve them with a dipping sauce. The easy Chinese dressing for cucumber salad that I shared earlier will do a nice job. For hot food lovers, why not simply dip them in homemade chili oil?
Pair with savoury dishes
If you’d like to have scallion pancakes as a staple for dinner, I have a few suggestions for meal planning:
- Simplified red-cooked pork belly + Spinach and soybean salad
- Super aromatic three cup chicken + Xinjiang tiger salad
- Fuss-free braised chicken wing + Spicy dry-pot cauliflower
Scallion pancakes, Cong You Bing (葱油饼)
For the dough
- 250 g all-purpose flour , about 2 cups + extra for dusting
- 160 ml boiling water, 2/3 cup
For the filling
- 2 tbsp lard, melted, or coconut oil
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1/4 tsp ground Sichuan pepper, or Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
- 3 stalks scallions
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
Make the dough
- Put the flour into a heatproof bowl. Pour in boiling water. Stir with a pair of chopsticks or a fork until the flour turns into small lumps and no more water can be seen.
- When cool enough to handle, knead the mixture into a soft, smooth dough. Leave to rest for 30 mins (see note 1).
Prepare the filling
- Mix flour, ground Sichuan pepper (or five-spice powder), salt with melted lard (or coconut oil). Finely chop the scallions.
Shape the pancakes
- Knead the dough again. Then flatten it with a rolling pin into a thin rectangle shape (dust with flour to avoid sticking).
- Evenly brush the lard mixture on the dough. Sprinkle scallions over.
- Roll the dough into a rope (from the shorter side). Cut into 4 cylinders.
- Stand a piece on one end. Roll it flat to the desired thickness (see note 2).
Fry the pancakes
- Heat up oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Place the pancakes in then turn the heat to medium (see note 3).
- Flip over 2-3 times. Cook until both sides are golden brown.
Store & serve
- You may freeze the uncooked pancakes. Pile them up with baking paper or cling film in between, then place them in a sealed plastic bag. Thaw in the fridge then cook the normal way.
- You can serve them as breakfast/afternoon snack or as a staple for regular meals with savoury dishes, soup or rice congee.
Hope you are tempted to give my recipe a try. Have a great time in your kitchen!