Scallion pancakes are the Chinese bread you didn’t know you were missing!
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First gifts in relationships are always tricky. When my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together, there was much gnashing of teeth (on both sides) over getting just the right gift. I have no memory of what I got Logan, but he won major points by getting me Mark Bittman’s Best Recipes in the World.
We’ve given each other lots of gifts since then, but that cookbook remains one of my favorites. We’ve had tons of great food from it, and Bittman writes in a way that makes it easy for me to replicate dishes I’ve never had before!
So when we decided to have a Chinese Christmas Eve dinner in, I immediately grabbed this cookbook. Beyond some of our favorite Chinese food staples, I wanted to attempt something I’d never had: scallion pancakes. I’d heard them referenced in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and wanted to try them.
Scallion pancakes are a bit like a Chinese version of a fried flatbread: chewy and a bit
They beg to be dipped in something delicious. I especially liked them with ginger scallion dipping sauce, but they’re also fantastic with dumpling dipping sauce too. Make both and do a taste test of your own, and let me know which you like better!
They’re not complicated to make, mostly needing time. If you’re serving a group, cut the finished pancakes into triangles, but when it’s just the two of us we’ll eat them as is.
I also like scallion pancakes alongside Chinese corn soup – gives you a bread-like thing to balance the meal.
You can do this without a food processor if you don’t have one: just work the flour with forks, adding a little water at a time until it sticks to itself in a ball.
Lard is the traditional frying choice here, but corn oil works great. Plus if you’re cooking other Chinese dishes you probably already have some, and it allows these to be vegan. Additionally, the scallion doesn’t have to be sliced perfectly, just in tiny bits.
Tools you’ll need: food processor, rolling pin, brush, and large skillet.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 3/4 cups scallion
- 1/4 cup corn oil, lard, or neutral oil
- Chop the scallion into tiny pieces.
- Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Turn it on, then pour the boiling water in slowly. After each 1/4 cup, pause to check the progress. You have enough when the dough forms a cohesive ball.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for a minute or two, then put in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for an hour or more.
- Roll the dough back on the floured surface and make two-inch balls. You will probably have between 10-12 balls, but be sure it’s an even number.
- Roll a ball and brush sesame oil on top. Sprinkle heavily with scallions, then roll out another ball and put on top of the first.
- Roll the stacked pancake out into a 5-inch rectangle, then brush half with more sesame oil and scallions. Fold in half, then roll out again to be roughly 1/4 inch thick.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Coat the bottom of a deep skillet with a thick layer of oil. Heat until just smoking, then add the first pancake. Don’t crowd the pan; it’s fine to do just one at a time. Cook 4-5 minutes, until the side is lightly browned, then flip and cook another 3-5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with salt and serve warm. For a crowd, cut into triangles.
Scallion pancakes are lovely fresh from the pan and offer a chewy counterpoint to a big Chinese meal!
Planning your own Chinese feast? Try copycat PF Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps, Chinese corn soup, or dipping sauces to get you started!