For years, my mom would make Chinese pancakes using leftover dough from steamed bread rolls (man tao). Even though they were made with risen dough, you couldn’t really tell. She’d throw in some scallions from time to time to make scallion pancakes, but would usually just sprinkle some salt and pepper on the dough, roll it up, roll it out, and stick it in the pan. If you ask her, she’ll say she makes them on a whim because she hates waste. If you press her, however, you’ll probably get her to admit that she never intends to make scallion pancakes because she simply doesn’t know what the secret is to making them.
Ever since my parents discovered that Trader Joe’s started selling pre-made pizza dough, they’ve been using it to make scallion pancakes. I have to say, in spite of the fact that the pizza dough has yeast in it, that the pancakes turn out to be just like the ones served in restaurants. Having found their secret, partially ready-made recipe, my parents have stopped there.
Once in a while at school, I crave Chinese food, but I’m usually a) hesitant to spend money on something that I could get a better rendition of at home b) short on cash c) too lazy to walk there or d) short on time. My yearning for home cuisine usually starts up around midterms and finals season, when my stress levels and need for comfort are high. This weekend, I thought I’d try a simple recipe for scallion pancakes. For as long as my mom’s been making “pancakes” with leftover bread dough, I’ve been convinced that scallion pancakes have nothing to do with yeast. I came upon a slew of recipes that proved me right. Not having to wait for dough to rise cuts down on time, which is exactly what I need. These are incredibly easy to make, especially if you have a rolling pin. I don’t, so I used a glass cup to roll out my dough. At college, cooking is often about improvisation; my process might be kind of quirky, but it all comes out tasting fabulous. And you can bet I called my parents up and told them to try these.
Recipe for Scallion Pancakes (adapted from Big, Bold Beautiful Food)
2 cups flour
3/4 cup hot/warm water from tap
4 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp salt
3 green onions/scallions chopped
1. Put flour in a bowl. Slowly add in water, mixing the dough with a spatula or spoon to make sure the dough gathers and doesn’t get too soggy. Once dough has been gathered into a ball, work it until it is no longer sticky. Add a little flour if it’s too sticky. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Do some crunches! or…
2. Chop green part of scallions and set aside. Chop the white part up and set it aside in a different bowl for the dipping sauce.
3. Cut the rested dough into four pieces. Roll each out into a rectangular shape (doesn’t have to be exact). Take 1 tsp sesame oil and spread it over the dough, sprinkle a healthy pinch of salt all around dough, and add 1/4 of chopped scallions.
4. This next part was a little hard for me to get at first so: Roll up your dough like you’d roll up a carpet. Don’t worry if some of the sesame oil drips out the sides. Now that it looks like a rope, roll the rope up so that it looks like a spiral, making sure to seal the edge and the center of the spiral together.
5. Roll the dough spiral out into a circle. PAM a frying pan or use 1 tsp vegetable oil. Fry the pancake until its golden and crispy.
I made a quick dipping sauce with soy sauce, honey, Sriracha hot sauce (I suppose you could use Tabasco), and leftover scallion bits. It’s also a great dumpling dipping sauce.