Scallion pancakes (葱油餅 cong you bing) are a Chinese flatbread often served on the streets or at restaurants. Unlike fluffy American pancakes, scallion pancakes resemble a crispy, chewy tortilla with multiple flaky layers.
Recipe only using flour and water should be eaten with other foods since they are pretty bland by themselves. Scallion pancakes resemble these recipes because the dough consists of flour and water. However, the other ingredients (oil, salt, scallions) add flavor and make scallion pancakes tasty enough to eat by themselves.
This is related to a series of recipes made with only flour and water.
The recipe is light on the scallions, and it makes 2 pancakes with about 300 calories per pancake (you don't consume all of the oil). It's pretty easy to eat a lot of scallion pancakes, so if you're serving this as an appetizer, cut the scallion pancakes into wedges, and allocate at least 1/2 a scallion pancake per guest. Snipping the pancakes with scissors makes the neatest cuts.
- 2 tablespoons of oil for cooking
- 1 cup of flour + 2 tablespoons for rolling out the scallion pancakes
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- ⅓ cup of water
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 thinly sliced scallion
- In a large bowl, add 1 cup of flour and water. Knead to form a smooth dough. Cover, and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Divide the dough into two even pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece into a thin circle.
- Stir together 2 tablespoons of oil and the salt. Spread a thin layer of oil, and lightly sprinkle half of the scallions on top of the disk.
- Roll up the dough tightly, and twist the roll into a spiral.
- Gently flatten the roll with your hand, and re-roll to form another circle.
- Repeat this process with the other ball of dough to form a second pancake.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add a scallion pancake.
- Cook the first side for 2 minutes. Flip the pancake. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat the cooking process for the other scallion pancake.
- Oil for cooking: Makes the scallion pancakes crispy. Any oil with a high smoke point (canola, vegetable, olive) will work.
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour. Substituting whole wheat flour will result in a denser pancake.
- Oil in the scallion pancakes: Separates the thin layers of dough. Any neutral flavored oil (canola, vegetable) will work. Substitute sesame oil for more flavor.
- Water: Use water at any temperature. Cold tap water is the most convenient. A cold water dough can develop more gluten and results in a chewier pancake. Using hot water denatures the proteins and results in a more tender pancake.
- Salt: Seasons the scallion pancakes. Alternatively, you can add the salt to the scallion pancake dough.
- Scallion: Use up to 1/2 cup of chopped scallions per pancake. If you use the whole scallion, 2 thinly sliced scallions make 1/2 cup. If you only use the scallion greens, 4 scallions make 1/2 cup. Omit the scallions for flaky pancakes made with pantry ingredients.
- Spices: Optional. Per scallion pancake, you can sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder (cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns).
You can make a dipping sauce for the scallion pancakes by mixing together a few ingredients. For 2 scallion pancakes, use 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. You can add more flavor with a bit of ginger, chopped scallions, sesame seeds, or jalapenos for spice.
Step by Step Photos
In a large bowl, add 1 cup of flour and water. Knead to form a smooth dough. The dough shown above is not smooth enough - keep on kneading. Cover, and rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. You can also store dough in the fridge overnight.
I made two batches. The dough made with cold water is on the left, and the dough made with hot water is on the right. I didn't notice a difference between the batches.
Divide the dough into two even pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to a surface. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece into a thin circle. about 8 inches in diameter.
I didn't mix the dough well enough or wait for long enough, so the dough was very hard to roll out. If this happens to you, gently stretch out the dough with your hands instead of using a rolling pin.
Stir together 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Chop 1 scallion. You can put the chopped scallion into the measuring cup, which doubles as a container.
Spread a thin layer of oil, and lightly sprinkle half of the scallions on top of the disk. If you really like scallions, feel free to add more
Roll up the dough tightly.
Twist the roll into a spiral.
Tuck in the end of the spiral, and flatten slightly.
Re-roll the spiral to form another circle. Some of the scallions will break out of the scallion pancake dough, but it'll be okay. Set the first pancake aside, and repeat this process with the other ball of dough.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add a scallion pancake. Cook the first side for 2 minutes. Flip the pancake. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
When cooking a scallion pancake, you can cover the pan with a lid to help it cook faster. For more even browning, swirl the pan around as the scallion pancake cooks. Repeat the cooking process for the other scallion pancake.
Here's a close up picture of the texture. Scallion pancakes taste like homemade tortillas with flaky layers and scallion goodness. I love nomming them plain, and they'd go well with other Asian foods, such as cabbage stir fry.
You can keep leftovers in the fridge for a few days. To reheat, you can lightly pan fry the scallion pancakes, or microwave them if you don't mind them getting soggy.