My entire family is addicted to Chinese food. For my husband and me, it’s just in our blood after growing up in NYC. We grew up eating crispy Peking duck served with fluffy pancakes; dumplings of all varieties; and perfectly browned, crispy scallion pancakes. Our older son was born in NY and being that I was obsessed with Chinese food during my last trimester of pregnancy with him, I am not surprised Chinese food is one of his favorites. In fact, it’s possible the hot and sour soup and a side of dumplings from Ollies is what put me into labor, but we’ll never know for sure. My little one was born in California but was given Chinese food from an early age to make sure we hooked him early. Thankfully, we’re good, it all worked out. However, in California, I’ve been yet to find a scallion pancake that comes close to what I grew up eating. At least where I live, the Chinese food is just different from what I grew up eating.
I remember the first time we were back in NY and ordered scallion pancakes for the kids. Ages 3 and 5, one was somewhat disgusted (he disliked onions) and the other refused to even try it. I was heartbroken, yet persistent. I have always believed that it’s about exposure with kids. So we kept ordering scallion pancakes. By 5 and 7, we scored. Both ate one and loved it; we were all finally united on the scallion pancake front. I recently came up with a scallion pancake recipe I like enough to introduce it to the kids. Made with ghee (a type of clarified butter) these crispy, flavorful cakes are not healthful, but not everything can be. They are also delicious, and remind me of life back East long ago.
Steps to making the perfect scallion pancake:
If they were permitted, my kids would eat these scallion pancakes daily for dinner, but more often I would serve them as a side dish. They also work great as a casual hors d’oeuvre when entertaining because they can be easily prepped in advance.
- For The Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon agave
- dash of sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- For the Pancakes:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/3 cup ghee (or vegetable oil) melted
- 1 cup hot water
- 1-2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup vegetable for brushing and cooking
- Step 1 For the Sauce: In a small bowl add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, agave, sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix well to incorporate and set aside.
- Step 2 For the Pancakes: Lightly oil a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Step 3 In a second large mixing bowl add the flour and salt. Mix well.
- Step 4 Add the sesame oil, melted ghee and warm water and, using your hands, mix well. The dough will be a bit lumpy at this point.
- Step 5 Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and using your hands, knead the dough, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking until the dough becomes smooth and well blended. Transfer the dough to the prepared mixing bowl. Lightly brush with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Step 6 When the dough is ready, place on a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll out the dough into an 9-inch circle. Brush lightly with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and top with 1/3 of the scallions.
- Step 7 Roll the dough away from you, forming a log. Starting at one end, wrap the dough log around itself forming into a coil shape as shown in the photograph above. At this point, cover with plastic wrap and repeat the above process with the remaining two pieces of dough.
- Step 8 Next, working with one coil at a time, roll out the coil to a 7-inch round. Repeat with the remaining coils.
- Step 9 Next, line a baking sheet with paper towel and set aside. Using a large sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium-low heat. When hot, but not smoking, add one pancake and cook, turning occasionally until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the pancake to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Repeat the process with the remaining two pancakes.
- Step 10 To serve, slice the scallion pancakes into wedges and serve with the sauce on the side. Serve hot.