Dish of the Week: Scallion Pancakes
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.
Photo by manda_wong Serve these savory pancakes with ginger dipping sauce.
This week, we're sharing a recipe for scallion pancakes.
Scallion pancakes are a popular Chinese dish also known as cong you bing. Unlike actual pancakes made from batter, these savory pancakes are made with unleavened, laminated dough.
The term laminated means that the dough is folded over itself and separated by thin layers of fat (typically butter) so that as it cooks, a flaky, tender pastry is formed. Similar to the process of making croissants or puff pastries that are brushed with butter and layered, this flatbread gets rolled into a flat disk, then brushed with sesame oil and scallions. But instead of layering the dough, the disk is rolled up tightly like a jelly roll, then spiraled into a cinnamon-bun-like shape. Finally, the bun is flattened out so that the fat and scallions are evenly spread throughout the dough.
One other important element is that, like dumpling wrappers, this dough is made using boiling water, creating an almost paste-like dough that has a tender tug to it when cooked. It also happens to be easier to roll out than your typical, springy pizza dough.
When fried, the hot water and lamination treatments result is a crisp, flaky, and slightly chewy pancakes.
This recipe, adapted from chef Ming Tsai, is a classic preparation made with scallions, sesame oil, salt and pepper. The savory pancakes get served with a sweet and spicy soy ginger sauce, but feel free to kick up the heat with some extra chili flakes in the dough.
Photo by hapaway This method of rolling ensures the fat is distributed throughout the dough.
Scallion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce
Ingredients makes 4 servings
For the pancakes:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for frying
Salt and black pepper to taste
Optional: Red pepper flakes to taste
For the dipping sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese chinkiang vinegar
1 tbsp sliced scallions
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger
Pinch red pepper flakes
To make the dipping sauce: whisk all of the ingredients until combined. Set aside at room temperature.
To make the pancakes: Sift flour into a large bowl. Slowly add boiling water in a steady stream, mixing with a wooden spoon and continuing to add water until a ball is formed.* Cover with a damp cloth and allow to relax for 30 minutes.
*You can also use a food processor with a metal blade using the same procedure.
Divide dough into four pieces and roll into smooth balls. On a floured surface, roll out dough into 6 inch disks. Mix oils together and brush a thin layer of oil mixture onto each pancake, then cover each with scallions and season with salt and pepper (if adding red pepper flakes, sprinkle on here). Carefully roll each disk up like a jelly roll. Twist each piece 3 times, then make a spiral so that the dough looks like cinnamon bun. Flatten to achieve 5 to 6 inch pancakes.
Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully add one pancake and cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gently flip and cook other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and season with salt. Repeat process with other 3 pancakes.
Cut into wedges and serve hot with dipping sauce.
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