Chinese Scallion Pancake (Cong You Bing)
I try and keep Fen on a healthy diet, I really do. But when it comes down to it, Fen doesn’t want fruit or salads or vegetables. Oh no. Fen wants something crispy, pan-fried, and dripping in oil. Case in point: Chinese scallion pancake.
There’s something deliciously naughty about this classic Chinese snack, also known as green onion pancakes of ‘cong you bing’. They’re quick, dirty, yet oh-so satisfying. In China I used to pick up pancakes (known as ‘bing’) after work as they were cooked freshly on the street side, next to venders selling freshly baked meat buns and fragrant pan-fried dumplings. In fact it’s the memory of waiting eagerly next to a spitting wok as my food is cooked in front of me that I despair at restaurants like Bao, where I’m forced to queue for upwards of 40 minutes or more before even getting a seat, thus totally robbing me of the cheeky spontaneity which is surely part and parcel of street food.
But I digress. Chinese scallion pancakes can be enjoyed both as a snack, or as a separate dish in a larger meal. The pancakes are crispy, savoury, and as moreish as hell. Best yet, their street food origins make them incredibly easy to make, and as long as you’re pretty handy with a rolling pin you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Forming the Dough
Once you’ve made your dough and left in a bowl under a damp cloth for 30 minutes (as per the instructions below), you can start form the pancakes. Start by cutting the dough into 4-8 separate pieces, depending on how big you’d like you pancakes to be.
Now taking one dough ball at a time, and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat thin disk. Brush on some oil (use sesame seed oil if you want to add some extra flavour), then roll the disk into a long, thin sausage.
Curl the sausages up into a snail, then roll into a flat, round pancake (if you cut the dough into 4 four pieces, this will be about 15cm in diameter). Now all you need to do is pan-fry them, and you’re done.
The traditional way to eat Chinese scallion pancakes is to cut them up into segments like a pizza and eat them with chopsticks, no dipping sauce required. Etiquette goes flying out the window though when you’ve got such tasty grub, so feel free go ignore convention and dive in with your hands.
If you have a Fen in your life be warned: once she knows you can make these you’re not going to get a moments rest. It’s 22:31 on Monday night as I type this and I’m getting moaned at to whip up a batch. Well at least she enjoyed them I guess…
- 200g all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 125ml water
- 3-4 scallions or green onions, green parts only
- 2 tablespoons oil/sesame seed oil, for brushing
- Oil, for frying
- Combine the sifted flour and salt in a large bowl
- Bring the water to the boil, then stir slowly into the flour. Knead continuously for about 15 minutes until the dough loses it's stickiness and becomes a smooth ball. Add more flour is the dough is still sticky, or a little more water if it's too dry. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave for 30 minutes
- Add the scallions/spring onions to the dough, and mix/fold well into the mixture. Follow the above instructions to form pancakes ready for frying
- Add 6mm of oil into a frying pan and shallow fry each pancake. Fry for about 1 minute, then flip over to cook the other side. Continue flipping if necessary, and press down with a spatula to cook the whole surface evenly
- Once cooked, take out the pan and place onto a piece of kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil. Cut into small, pizza-shaped segments, then serve
Inspired from Rasa Malaysia