May 12th, 2020
Prep: 45 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
葱油饼 or Chinese scallion pancakes are a delicious fried pancake filled with Chinese scallions and a lard-flour mixture that adds a ridiculous amount of umami and saltiness. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, this dish is reminiscent of a thin fried danish in terms of its layering. This is a typical Chinese street food popular in northern cities in China (although they're also seen in places in the south!). Recipe follows closely along with here (I'm big fan of Omnivore's Cookbook!), with a few alterations here and there.
This nearly gave me a heart attack
1. Add the 2 1/2 cups of dough flour to the large mixing bowl. Mix while slowly pouring in 1 cup of boiling water. You should get flakes of dough clumped together.
2. Begin adding in the remaining 1/4 cups of cold water a tablespoon at a time, until a dough starts to form and all the flour around the bowl adhere to the dough flakes. Dust hands with flour and begin working the dough into a ball. Once the dough is slightly sticky (but not so much as to stick to your bowl and tear), turn it out onto a floured surface and start kneading gently, adding flour as needed. Continue kneading until the dough is as "soft as an earlobe" (thank you Omnivore's Cookbook for this beautiful description).
3. Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl with a tablespoon of oil. Put your dough in, cover with a wet dishcloth, and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your fillings. Wash and chop your Chinese scallions into small pieces and set aside. Combine your 1/3 cup of chicken oil, 2 tablespoons of shallot oil and 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. Season with salt to taste.
4. Turn your rested dough onto an oiled surface/cutting board. divide your dough into 6 roughly equal pieces (I had 5 here because I was working with the 6th). If you want smaller/larger pancakes then adjust accordingly.
5. Make sure your surface is still lightly oiled after making every pancake. Roll out the dough evenly into a thin rectangular sheet. The flat dough should be thin enough to be slightly translucent.
6. Use a spoon or brush to apply an even coating of the roux (oil paste!) over the flattened dough. Sprinkle the entire surface of the flattened dough liberally with chopped Chinese scallion (depending on how much you want!). If your roux wasn't salted enough add a sprinkle of salt on now. Make sure you don't use too much of both the roux and scallions! Each pancake you make needs to have around the same amount of roux and scallions. Divide accordingly.
7. Gently roll the flattened dough from the bottom up, making sure to try and keep a somewhat tight roll (not too tight as to break the dough!). Be careful! The dough is extremely fragile at this point - if breaks occur just crimp your dough back together and make sure to oil your surface slightly more for the next one.
8. Once you have your pancake log, roll it into a danish-like ball. Tuck the end of the roll under the ball.
9. Oil your rolling pin and make sure your surface is still lightly oiled. Gently roll the roll on its flat side with the rolling pin so that you flatten your pancake to your desired thickness. If your pancake's skin breaks a bit don't panic - just make sure it isn't sticking to your rolling pin and roll out gently until you have an evenly flat pancake.
10. Repeat steps 5 to 9 for the remaining dough balls.
11. Oil your frying pan with around 2-3 tablespoons of oil and heat your pan to a medium-high heat. Make sure your pan is hot before you lay (AWAY FROM YOU) your pancake on the pan. Fry on each side until the pancake is your desired crispiness on each side. If you opted for a thicker pancake I suggest you use a lower heat to fry your pancake. Otherwise thin pancakes should be done once both sides are crisp. Serve immediately and as fresh as possible!
(For storage) 12. These pancakes store in the freezer incredibly well due to the oil. Put each pancake between two small baking sheets and put all of them in a ziploc bag. To fry them you can fry them straight from the freezer! Just take off the baking sheets and fry accordingly!