How to Make Scallion Pancakes

Chinese New Year: Scallion Pancakes

Scallion pancakes were never part of our takeout repertoire when I was a kid. My little sister got steak-on-a-stick, my mom and I shared spare ribs, spring rolls and wonton soup, and my dad was most often banished to the garage to enjoy his lobster egg foo young in private, where it could not offend our delicate lady sensibilities. It wasn’t until I met Malcolm in college and we started our own ordering traditions, in his first floor room in Dominican Hall, that I had a scallion pancake. Whilst watching the impish Ralph Macchio jam alternately on blues guitar and Jami Gertz in the 1980’s classic fish out of water/coming of age/magical black man Faustian dramedy we call “Crossroads,” we ate Chinese food from wherever would deliver to our peculiar little ghetto of New Haven. Twelve years later, here we are. On the farm in Topsham, still hanging out. Since we can’t get scallion pancakes the way we like them, I thought I’d try to do it myself. As often happens with most everything, it’s so much easier than you think. So simple, in fact, you wonder why so many are so bad. Ponder that while you wait for the dough to rest and the oil to heat.

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes
Adapted from a recipe by Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups thinly sliced scallions (the green parts only)
  • about 1/8 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Method

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

1. In a food processor slowly add 3/4 cups boiling water to the flour and whirl until the mixture comes together, about 15 seconds.[You can add more water one tablespoon at a time if it doesn't]. Turn dough onto floured work surface and knead a little, forming it into a smooth ball. Allow dough to rest in a bowl covered with a dampened cloth for at least thirty minutes. Then, divide into four equal portions.

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

2. On a floured board roll out one quarter into an 8 inch disc. Dab with a few drops of sesame oil and brush to coat very lightly and evenly. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, small and tight. Twist into a spiral and tuck the end underneath.

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

3. Begin to flatten with the heel of your hand, then use your rolling pin to form an 8 inch disc. Dab and brush with sesame oil and 1/4 of your scallions. Roll it up like a jelly roll then spiral, as you did in step 2. Use a rolling pin to flatten into a 7 inch disc.

4. In a skillet heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high. When sizzling slide in the pancake and shake the pan while cooking two minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and salt to taste. Repeat with the other three portions of dough.

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

Serve with the dipping sauce we made for dumplings: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, ginger, and scallions works really nicely here. Don’t be intimidated, the process is not as complicated as it seems. And the result is flaky, light and amazing. These pancakes are so good you’ll think the devil himself helped you do it.

In our “Chinese New Year” series, we unlock the secrets of our favorite Chinese-American takeout classics with a week’s worth of recipe posts. We realize that the Chinese New Year isn’t until January 23rd this year, making the name of this series more “clever,” than it is “informative.” To read more from this series, click here.

Comments

  1. spence says

    traditionally i was taught to make the dough by feel, so i dont know the measurements, but we never use boiling water, just room temp water. the only time we use hot liquid (stock) is for the translucent like skin of xiao long bao ie soup dumplings

    Scallions, salt, veg oil, and sesame oil,
    some times we throw in some dried pork.

    • Malcolm says

      Thanks for writing, Spence! We use boiling water because it inhibits the development of gluten, and keeps the pancakes chewy and keeps the dough easy to work with. Using cold or room temperature water will result in a lighter, airier dough with more stretch and bounce.

  2. Steven says

    You Guys Rock!
    So does “Crossroads”.
    And so will these fine scallion pancakes when I try to whip them up for dinner tomorrow night – Thanks!!

  3. Ratih says

    I made this last night! They were delicious!!! Ate two with the husband and leave the other two for dinner tonight. I covered the rolled up, ready to go pieces in damp towel and they are now sitting in the refrigerator, ready to be cook and eaten. Thanks for sharing this great recipe, And yes, they are VERY easy to make.

    • Malcolm says

      Thanks for writing, Ratih! We were surprised by how intense the folding and re-folding process was, but are really happy with the flaky layers you get as a result.

  4. Diana says

    I made these tonight. They were my third or fourth attempt at scallion pancakes, and they were by far the best attempt. The other recipes I tried did not have the first roll/brush with oil/spiral step. That is absolutely crucial for super delicious layers. Thanks for the tip.

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