You know what’s awesome? Scallion pancakes.
So you know how I’m always saying how I’m such a procrastinator? Well, my daughter’s 5 months now, and…oh you want a picture of her? That’s very kind of you…here
Isn’t she awesome?
So where was I? Oh yeah, me being a procrastinator…so I made these scallion pancakes, before she was born! And that wasn’t the first time I’ve made them, and I’ve been meaning to post about it since then. It’s not that I didn’t have time, and it’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s just I wanted to do nothing that much more. I think that’s the exact definition of procrastination.
Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get down to some pancakes.
Of course, because I delayed, Hindy of Confident-Cook beat me to it. Harumph-a-doo.
Ok, so to be honest I hadn’t heard of scallion pancakes until I moved down to Baltimore, and had some from the local kosher chinese place (David Chu’s), and everyone raved about their scallion pancakes. So not wanting to offend any food item, I ordered some, and I’m not going to lie, they weren’t that great. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I proceeded to stuff my face, but there was something not awesome about it, you know what I mean? It was only after I made it myself could I put my finger on what was wrong with it.
Scallion pancakes is supposed to be shatteringly crisp, with many tiny layers of thin crisp dough, studded with scallion. You don’t want it to be chewy. Now we’ve been down the whole water + flour = gluten shpiel right? And normally that’s what you want…but not here. You see, gluten is great and all, if you’re looking for some chewy bread, but here we’re looking for crispy. So we have our first problem. We know that if you just add water and flour together in a bowl, with out even kneading them, they will form gluten on their own (ala no-knead breads), so how can we combine the two and not make gluten? Well since gluten is a protein, we can denature them, by mixing the flour with hot water. Gravysauce!
We are rolling now, we’ve figured out how to avoid making gluten, and decrease chew, but to move on to perfect-scallion-pancake-dom, we must also make them beautifully crispy, and to get to that, we must realize that this here pancake is part of a family known as laminated doughs, and it all has to do with how a dough rises. Lemmesplain.
Whenever we talk about dough that can rise, we usually refer to yeasted dough, and the dough will get it’s lift from the carbon dioxide spewed forth from the yeast, which gets trapped in the matrix of gluten. Then there’s another type of rise, which is more chemical in nature, where the lift will also come from carbon dioxide, but will come from the chemical reaction between an acid and a base, which produces carbon dioxide (namely stuff with baking powder or baking soda). And that leads us to our third type of dough, one that gets its lift from tiny layers of fat, which separate tiny layers of dough. Other examples include, puff pastry, or phylo dough. Puff pastry is made by taking a dough, putting a nice amount of butter (gasp! butter?!) and folding it over on itself. Each fold is known as a “turn,” and with the way that it’s done, after 9 turns, there are an amazing 6,561 different layers of dough, each separated by a layer of fat. That’s pretty awesome, but making puff pastry at home can be quite the pain in the behonkus. Which brings me to scallion pancakes.
These are really easy to do, and can literally come together in 10 minutes.
First we make the dough, which like I said before, requires some water boiling. Just combine the water and flour, and mix until a ball forms, and set aside. When it’s cool enough to handle, divide it into 4 portions, and working one at a time, roll it out into a thin circle-ish blob.
And paint on a layer of toasted sesame oil
Now for the laminating part. Roll it up like you’re making a jelly roll (which by the way, does anyone really make jelly rolls anymore? I say we change that to “roll it up like you’re making cinnamon buns” because everyone makes cinnamon buns, right? which by the way, that will hopefully be my next post, so stay tuned…), and after it’s rolled, roll the roll into a roll…I’m not even apologizing for that sentence, because it was awesome…anyway, here’s a visual aid.
So you see? First you roll it like a cinnamon bun (which I forgot to take a picture of), and then roll it like that. Cool? Then roll that out flat like it was beforehand, and we’re going to repeat this whole process again (once it’s flat, paint some toasted sesame oil, then roll like cinnamon bun, and then roll the roll…). Once you’re finished the second roll, we’re going to do the whole thing again for the a third time, but this time after you flatten it, and added the toasted sesame oil, we’re going to add the scallions before we roll it all up, and flatten it out. Confused?? Great!
Then once, you’re finished all four pancakes, it’s time to fry it up in some vegetable oil, until it’s nice and crisp, and sprinkle on salt.
That’s it. If you want, you can make a dipping sauce, which I’ll put the recipe on the bottom.
Look at all of those layers! I know right?
Anyway, here’s to hoping Daniella isn’t 10 months the next time I post
from Serious Eats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup boiling water
- Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the Dipping Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion greens
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Combine flour and hot water. You can do this in a food processor if you’re lazy, or you can just combine in a bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms into a cohesive ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and set aside for 30 minutes (or if you want, you can make this ahead, and transfer to the fridge now)
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball.
- Working one at a time, roll the ball flat into about an 8 inch diameter circle. Paint a thin layer of toasted sesame oil, and then roll it up like a cinnamon bun, and then roll it on itself (see pictures above since I can’t really speak English).
- Flatten it gently, and roll it out repeating the previous step.
- Flatten it out, roll it out, and paint the oil on once again (for the 3rd time), and this time sprinkle 1/4 of the scallions over the disk; Roll it up like the cinnamon roll, and then roll it on itself again, and then flatten, and roll into pancake.
- Fry pancake in vegetable oil until crisp, and transfer to a cooling rack, and sprinkle on the salt.
- To make the dipping sauce: Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.