Multi-Layered Scallion Pancakes

By • December 8, 2013 • 22 Comments


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Author Notes: Here's a recipe for creating one of the beloved street snacks in Taiwan, thin and soft flatbreads with multi-laminated diced scallions and scallion oil.

NOTE: One of the tricks, I believe, is not to roll the dough to such deadly thinness that you lose the layers. The first roll-out, when you apply the scallion oil, should be slightly thinner than 1/8 inch. And the final roll-out should be a bit thicker than 1/16 inch. Any thinner than that, and you’ll flatten out all the work you’ve done. I’m not gonna lie: You may fail the first time. But it will eventually take you to yummy town.

There’s no reason why the awesomeness of this flatbread can’t be expanded to other herbs besides scallion. Think basil, a little rosemary, thyme, or garlic and parsley. Whatever you have on hand, really, is going to turn these flatbreads into great snacks or a show-stealing addition to a bread basket (don’t you loooove bread baskets!?)
Mandy @ Lady and pups

Makes 4 large flatbreads.

Dough:

  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (140 grams) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) hot/warm water (150° F)
  • 1/4 cup cold/room-temperature water
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) vegetable oil

Scallion oil and fillings

  • 2 cups (105 grams) diced scallions, divided
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, divided into 1/2 teaspoon each
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • More vegetable oil for frying
  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Mix all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Bring a small pot of water to 150º F (it should be almost too hot to touch but NOT close to a simmer), then with the machine running on low, add 1/2 cup of the hot water into the flour mixture. Mix for 1 minute or so. The mixture will still look like loose flours with large lumps. Then add 1/4 cup of cold water and mix for 1 minute, and then add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Turn the machine to medium-high speed and knead the dough for 5 minutes until shiny and elastic. The dough will be very wet and sticking to the side of the bowl in the beginning (if it seems tacky already, add 1 teaspoon of water), but it should slowly pull away cleanly at the end of kneading. When you lift the dough hook, the wet dough should droop down from the hook slowly.
  2. If you must knead with your hands, you can. But keep in mind that this is quite a wet dough and it will stick to your hands while kneading. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 1 hour.
  3. TO MAKE THE SCALLION OIL AND FILLING: Add 1 cup of diced scallions, vegetable oil, salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer into a bowl. Take 3 tablespoons of the mixture out into another bowl and add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda, mix until combined and keep both in the fridge. Mix the rest of the 1 cup of diced scallion with 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper, set aside.
  4. TO MAKE THE FLATBREADS: Divide the dough into 4 portions and set on a well-floured surface. Take 1 portion, dust with more flour, and roll it into about a 1/8-inch sheet. Apply a generous layer of scallion oil (mixed with baking soda) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of diced scallions over the sheet, then fold it in the same direction 3 times (like folding a letter) into a log, then fold the log lengthwise 2 times into a round shape (try to eliminate as much air as possible while you fold). Set aside (to let it rest) and repeat the same process with the other 3 portions.
  5. Now go back to the first dough you worked on (which has had a few minutes to rest) and press it down gently into a thick, flat disk. There will be air pockets in between the layers which will make it hard to roll out, so pierce the dough a few times with a fork and dust with only enough flour to prevent sticking, then roll into a large circle slightly thicker than 1/16 inch. (Be careful not to over-roll it because you’ll risk flattening all the layers.) If the dough springs back stubbornly, rest it for another 2 min. If you want to keep the flatbreads in the freezer, laminate the rolled-out doughs in between two sheets of parchment paper and tuck inside a zip-lock bag. Keep frozen until needed.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Carefully lift the dough up and transfer to the skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, add more oil if needed, and cook until golden brown on both sides (it’s important to add enough oil). The baking soda will create bubbles in between layers during cookings. Right off the skillet while it’s still hot, brush the top with more scallion oil (without baking soda). Serve immediately.

Comments (22) Questions (2)

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about 1 month ago I_Fortuna

Most Chinese pancakes that we are accustomed to are made using the tangzhong (water roux) method. Tangshong makes the pancakes soft and pliable. It seems like you almost use it here but don't take the method all the way.
The tangzhong should cook until it boils and thickens and should be whisked the entire time to remove lumps. Let cool and add to other flour mixture and yeast (instead of baking soda). If you are not using yeast, use baking powder instead of baking soda. Baking soda loses its rise quickly but if baking powder is used the dough can sit for sometime before cooking and not lose its punch. This process accounts for the tender crumb that is produced. If the dough is overworked it will become tough. We don't roll out the dough but form ropes that are curled like a flat snail (handling very little) and then fry.
However, I notice that is not what you are specifically going for here and I have never had the scallion pancakes as you have posted here.
Traditional Chinese pancakes as we are used to, are often eaten with savory dishes that have some kind of gravy, veggies and protein. A dipping sauce made with soy or tamari is good too. Plain, they are really a comfort food. I would not serve them with congee as that is just too much starch. Thanks for this interesting recipe, it looks very good although not what we are used to I would like to try it.

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about 1 month ago Cal Gifford

For Mandy and Sarah: it's best not include the ends of the scallions--the deep green part, as it can be bitter in the end. It's best to use the white, finely chopped, and the lighter green part, not so finely chopped. (I've been making the traditional pancakes for decades, taught by my YuanYuan ;) )

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about 1 month ago craig sonis

Make these tonight and THIS recipe is a keeper of all the scallion pancake recipes I've done. I used AP Flour (as I didn't have bread Flour on hand)and they seemed to work out well. In step 3 (making the oil & filling) I would recommend taking out 4 TSP of the mixture (not 3 TSP) and adding the baking soda to that as I ran out of the oil when I got to the the 4th pancake. I also didn't have white pepper on hand so I simply used black pepper and cut back the quantity a little bit. Here's how mine came out > http://tinypic.com/r/2vry43c...

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4 months ago sarah patton

How much of the green part should you include when chopping scallions?

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4 months ago Mandy @ Lady and pups

Sarah, actually I would prefer more green parts than white parts! So I guess all of it.

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4 months ago lillianstrange

I like to add chopped up Thai peppers for some heat in mine. Somethimes I will even spinkle toasted sesame, too. Pair with a hot, steaming bowl congee (rice porridge), and you have a comforting winter meal.

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about 1 month ago Cal Gifford

That's fine, but if you want the traditional, try a Mandarin pancake recipe. We usually stick to the traditional.

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4 months ago clumsychef

This recipe landed in my mailbox just as I was wondering what to do with a large bunch of leftover scallions. I love when that happens! I promptly made them - the dough was a dream to work with and the end result delicious. I'd suggest taking 5 tablespoons of scallion oil out to mix with baking soda instead; I barely had enough and had too much leftover scallion oil at the end. As for dipping sauce - the sauce from this Korean pancake recipe was a great pairing: http://www.thepauperedchef... . Next time I may add some dried shrimp...or Chinese sausage...or bacon? Yum. Thanks for this recipe!

Hagolem_-_portrait!

4 months ago Sherman

Regarding the ubiquitous nature of “vegetable oil,” could you be more specific as to your preferences?

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4 months ago Cal Gifford

Make that 2 t. of tstd sesame oil; I forgot that I make 3x as much!

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4 months ago Cal Gifford

This is a neat way of making Scallion cakes. Even though this recipe doesn't use rendered duck fat or lard, I think it's important to include a couple of T of toasted sesame oil in the oil mix. It really adds a great traditional flavor and smell to the bread. Thanks for creating this new technique!

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4 months ago Dieselle

I have a question regarding step "2"... which begins about instructions for kneading by hand. My question is, regardless of whether you use a dough hook or knead by hand, do you " Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 1 hour."?

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4 months ago JohnL

Mandy, Thanks. That's what I thought you meant. It threw me because I'm used to the usual "fold the dough in thirds" as if folding a letter instruction. I asked just in case you literally meant to fold the dough three times. Ok got it!

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4 months ago JohnL

I'm unclear on the folding. When you first fold (3 times) are you folding (1) in half, (2) in half again, and (3) in half again, creating 8 layers. And in the lengthwise folding twice more would quadruple those layers? I think I've used a Chinese method in which you simply roll up the scallions in the dough jelly roll style into sort of a long "rope". You then coil that rope into a spiral like a Fibonacci spiral. Then you roll that out into the final pancake.

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4 months ago Mandy @ Lady and pups

John, you fold it 3 folds (creating 3 layers) first, then 3 folds again (9 layer in total). Its probably clearer to reference the photos. But what you are describing will work as well, just that the layer would be in different directions.

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4 months ago stevemr

It's unclear whether these should be cooked directly from the freezer. You say "keep frozen until needed" and say nothing about thawing out the frozen dough.

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4 months ago Mandy @ Lady and pups

Stevemr, sorry for the confusion. They can be cooked directly out of the freezer because they are so thin.

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4 months ago smacarol

What is "bread flour"? Sorry for my ignorance.

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4 months ago Mandy @ Lady and pups

Smacarol, bread four has higher protein content then all-purpose flour in order to develop more gluten. You can find it in most supermarkets in the flour section.

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4 months ago Regine

Mandy this is extra clear now. Thanks. Can't wait to make it.

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4 months ago Regine

A bit confused. Step 4 could be clearer. You wrote "apply a generous layer of scallion oil (with baking soda)." You have a portion with the oil and another one (3 tbsp) with the baking soda. How much of each is placed on the 4 pancakes? 1/4? Also, the 2 tbsp oil for frying are in addition to the 1/2 cup used with the scallions and blended? Or is only 1/2 cup minus the 2 tbsp used for the blended mixture? Thanks.

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4 months ago Mandy @ Lady and pups

Regine, sorry for the confusion. You take 3 tbsp of blended scallion oil out, and mix it with baking soda. That's the one you "apply a generous layer of scallion oil". 3 tbsp should be enough for all 4 flat breads. The frying oil IS NOT included in the 1/2 cup of oil (sorry, should've said "more oil for frying"). Then at TH END, you brush the blended scallion oil WITHOUT baking soda, onto the cooked flat breads. Please let me know if there's more confusion. sorry about that.