Chinese Scallion Pancakes are savory unleaved flatbreads that are folded with oil and minced scallions, then pan-fried until golden brown, crispy, and flaky. They are great for grab-and-go bites, especially for breakfast and lunch.
These Chinese Scallion Pancakes remind me of the breakfast menu I had during my vacation in China. They taste mild because I do not season them with lots of spice. Nonetheless, I love this version better because too many spices can taste overwhelming.
These savory pancakes are very versatile to make. You can easily make these with basic 5 ingredients only; flour, water, oil, scallions, and salt. For more flavor, you can add spices and seasonings. If you do not like scallions, you can also substitute them with other greens or aromatic herbs. You can also alternatively make them thin for crispy pancakes or make them thick for chewy pancakes. There are so many options you can make with this simple recipe.
Now you could make your own scallion pancakes at home. They are such a treat that you can enjoy them on their own, and they are perfect for snacking. I provide the step-by-step tutorial video to help you learn how to make these addictive pancakes.
About Chinese Scallion Pancakes
Scallion Pancakes or Green Onion Pancakes are known as cong you bing/葱油饼 in Chinese. They are commonly served as a breakfast, with soy milk, mantou, soy sauce eggs in China. You can find them at Chinese roadside stalls to high-end restaurants.
Unlike Western pancakes, they are made from a simple dough of flour and water (sometimes with a little bit of oil) instead of batter. A unique characteristic of scallion pancakes is the many layers that make up the interior. To achieve the flaky layers, the dough is folded with oil to incorporate thin layers of fat between the layers of the dough. Then, they are pan-fried until it is toasty golden color, contributing the crisp on the edges and chewy interior.
There is a story in China that says pizza is actually an adaptation of the scallion pancake, with the technique brought back to Italy by Marco Polo. Legend has it that Marco Polo missed the pancakes so much that he persuaded a chef from Naples to recreate the dish. After several unsuccessful trials, Polo suggested the filling be put on top of the dough base, rather than inside it. The change, by chance, became the cooking style for the modern pizza so widely consumed around the world today.
Tips For Making Scallion Pancakes
Well-made scallion pancakes should be tasty with many layers when torn open. To achieve the ultimate flakiness, I suggest that you follow these tips below.
1. Roll the dough as thin as possible
A unique characteristic of scallion pancakes is the many layers that make up the interior. To achieve the flaky layers, the dough is folded with oil to incorporate thin layers of fat between the layers of the dough.
After you divide the dough into 6 evenly, take one and make it into a ball. Then, roll them into a rectangle shape as thinly as possible into a 6×10-inch / 15×25 cm rectangle. The thinner alternating layers of fat and dough, the more layers you get in between. It means you will get flakier pancakes at the end of the day.
2. Brush the roux in between the layers
You will need to laminate the dough with fat to create the flaky layers. There are actually 2 ways to prevent the layers of dough from sticking to each other. You can brush the thinly rolled dough with oil or roux. However, I prefer the roux method since it is easier to manage and less likely to leak out from the dough while shaping it. In addition, I find using a roux with flour and oil mixture makes crispier pancakes.
To make the roux, heat together flour, salt, and oil in a saucepan until smooth and well combined. The perfect ratio of flour and oil for the recipe is 1:1. For more flavor, you can also substitute the oil with lard.
3. Do not put too many scallions
After you roll out the dough and brush the roux on top, it is now time to sprinkle the chopped scallions. Make sure to chop the scallions finely. Make them as small as possible. Add about 1-1 1/2 tbsp scallions for each dough and try to make them sparse. Do not overcrowd the scallions because the rolled dough will harder to handle and burst out if you add too much filling inside.
3. Play with flavor
There are a lot of variations that exist on the basic method of preparation and the filling options you can choose for. You can use garlic chives or even herbs, such as basil, garlic, rosemary to substitute the scallions. Other ingredients, such as chopped fennel greens and sesame seeds are sometimes added with the scallions or green onions. Feel free to add spices in the roux, such as five-spice powder, black pepper, and cumin to enhance the flavor. You can also play with the thickness. When the pancakes are thinner, they tend to be crispier. If you make them thicker, they will be chewier in the middle.
4. Cook with more oil for crispy pancakes
Be generous with the amount of oil for frying because it will create an even more crispy exterior and softer inner part. Somehow these pancakes absorb lots of cooking oil during drying, so you need to keep adding more oil to the pan after frying each one. Make sure to press the middle with a spatula during drying from time to time to ensure the middle is evenly fried.
How to Store Scallion Pancakes
These Chinese Scallion Pancakes taste so good but they do take a little time to prepare. But you can make them ahead and freeze them for later raw or cooked. For the best result, freeze the scallion pancakes raw after you roll them out. Stack them with parchment paper in between to prevent them from sticking to each other. Then, transfer them to a large ziplock bag and press out as much air as possible and seal the bag.
To cook the frozen pancakes, simply let them thaw at room temperature and cook them using the same method. But if you have leftovers pancakes, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge. You can either reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop.
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