i am in the midst of a very dangerous scallion pancake obsession. if you’ve ever had these flaky fried disks dotted with slivers of green onions, you know that they have potential to become a serious addiction. you pick up a piping hot triangle, shimmering lightly with a bare trace of sesame oil and threatening to pull apart into thin layers of nearly translucent dough. you dip a corner into the smashed garlic soy vinegar sauce and bring it to your mouth, inhaling the scent of crispy seared scallions and the nutty warmth of the lingering sesame flavors. and then you bite down, the doughy inner layers dissolving on your tongue as the crispy outer shards of the browned pancake crack into pieces like the icy surface of a frozen pond as springtime approaches.
oh…it tastes so good. and then you want to do it again. and again. and again.
and when you have perfected the quick and easy scallion pancake recipe to the point that it takes a mere stomach-rumbling twenty minutes to go from a bag of flour and a handful of scallions to the tastiest of pan-fried snacks…well, it’s dangerous business. because you will do it all the time. trust me, i know.
so i give you this scallion pancake recipe with a warning: with great power comes great responsibility. after trying these pancakes, the mere sizzle of the pan or scent of freshly chopped scallions may cause you to relinquish control, churning out pancake after pancake and consuming every bite. cook at your own risk…
not only are these pancakes quick and easy, but they’re tons of fun to make. i have vivid memories of helping to cook these as a child, standing on a chair to lean over our wide wooden kitchen table wiped clean and scattered with flour. i loved watching the flour and water come together in a sticky dough, playing with the rolling pin to flatten huge circles, and shaping the dough into snakes and snails. the worst part was waiting for the pancakes to cook – i was always impatient for both sides to brown and could barely let each pancake cool before trying to stuff them in my mouth. but as soon as i could pick them up…then came the best part. clearly these addictions can start at a very young age.
there are many variations of this recipe which use hot and/or cold water or this version by ming tsai which is essentially the same but lets the dough sit for half an hour. that doesn’t really work for me though, since i need my scallion pancakes fix fast. so i present to you the quickest and dirtiest version and i’ve included my favorite dipping sauce as well.
Quick, Easy, and Dangerously Addictive Scallion Pancakes
What You Need:
2 cups flour
1 cup boiling water
about 1/2 cup chopped scallions
What You Do:
1. mix the flour and boiling water in a bowl, using a wooden spoon to form a ball.
2. pinch off a quarter of the dough and place onto a sturdy and lightly floured surface. use a rolling pin (or in my kitchen-item-bereft and active-social-drinker case, an empty wine bottle) to roll the dough into a flat circle.
3. pour some sesame oil onto the pancake, smear it around into a thin layer and sprinkle the chopped scallions on top.
4. roll the pancake up into a long snake and then coil the snake up into a spiralled snail. see the photos above if you’re confused. this is the best part for kids (and kid-like adults).
5. sprinkle a bit more flour on your rolling surface and then roll the snail spiral out into a pancake again. this double rolling technique means yummy scallion bits sandwiched between lots of thin layers of dough. it’s okay if the snake splits and scallions come spilling out, it’s part of the appeal.
6. heat some sesame oil in a pan and cook the pancake until browned on both sides. cut into triangles, serve with dipping sauce, and eat eat eat.
7. repeat with the rest of the dough. i can never stop myself from eating multiple pancakes, but if you have the self-control of a zen master, you can also roll them out and then freeze them. make sure to freeze them individually and then stack them or freeze between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper to keep them from sticking together.
but a scallion pancake is really only as good as its dipping sauce..it’s partially a vehicle for a pungent and spicy dressing. here’s the best one…buy the ingredients in an asian market just once and then you’ll have them in the cupboard for all future pancaking adventures.
Smashed Garlic Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce
What You Need:
a clove of garlic
a large splash of soy sauce
an equally large splash of chinese vinegar
a sprinkling of red pepper flakes
a handful of chopped scallions
a dash of white pepper
squirt of chili sauce or chili oil if you like it spicy
a teeny sprinkle of sugar
What You Do:
1. place the garlic clove on a cutting board. place the blade of a cleaver or large chef’s knife on top of the garlic and hold the handle steady with one hand. make a fist with the other. bring fist down and SMASH the garlic like the ninja you are.
2. combine everything else into a small bowl. if you don’t have any of the ingredients just leave them out or substitute with something else that you think might taste good. yum. try not to drink directly.