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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

shanghai scallion pancakes.

You can call this a fusion of glorious nutritionally nada carbs and somewhat good-for-you spring onions. I love spring onions, I can't live without flour... need I say more?

If I tell you that spring onions are (one of) my favourite vegetables, don't laugh, because it's so true it's almost embarrassing. I can eat a whole plateful of it with a bowl of porridge when they are usually sprinkled on top more for aesthetic reasons. I ask for extra spring onions on the side with my fried rice. I think the ratio of rice grains to spring onions may be 1:1. As you can imagine, I had to restrain myself from adding too much to the dough or they would all fall out.

These pancakes are not the American light and fluffy batter pancakes. They are made from dough, salt and just enough water for the right consistency. They also have a very different texture. Think roti prata, if you know what it is- crispy on the outside and fluffy layered insides. It's a bit like puff pastry, but without the puff.

I was actually wondering why not use butter instead of oil? The oil here helps to separate the layers after rolling the dough up. Since fat is what we're after, I thought butter might do the trick too, and with extra flavour to boot. Granted, it won't be very Chinese, but it's a good idea!

Shanghai Scallion Pancakes
recipe just slightly tweaked from Almost Bourdain
Makes 2 (large ones)

You may need more water than the amount specified below. Just add a little at a time until a pliable, non-sticky dough is formed. Also, I included the step of "crushing" the pancake after cooking. Don't be alarmed, I don't have anger management issues. This step helps to separate the layers in the pancake, creating a light and flaky texture. You can skip it if you want, but give it a try if you feel like having a bit of fun. Just be careful though, it's hot! 

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
110 ml warm water
20g spring onions, green parts only, chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil or lard

Sift flour and salt into a big bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the warm water. Using your hand, slowly mix to form a dough.

Cover the dough with cling wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a circle. Try to roll it out as thinly as you can to achieve more layers in your pancake, resulting in a flakier one.

Brush the surface generously with oil or lard and sprinkle with half of the chopped spring onion.

Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough like a swiss roll and pinch the ends to seal. Lightly flatten the roll, then roll it up again from one end to form a snail, pinch the ends together. Press the dough down with the palm of your hand. Roll it out to a circle. I find it easier to roll out after resting for a while so why not get started on your other piece of dough while waiting?

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat with some oil/lard. Fry pancake for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning once, until the pancake is a light golden brown and crisp.

Remove from the pan and onto a clean chopping board. Let it cool for a few moments then smash it up like scrunching a piece of paper but without picking it up. You should see some layers separate. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.


  1. Yummm! These look soooo good! I bet they'd be super topped with a bit of grilled shrimp or chicken and some greens tossed with a little rice vinegar light soy and toasted sesame oil as a quick weeknight supper! Stopping by and newly following from Carole's Food On Friday. Thanks for sharing these crispy onion-y goodies!