Flaky, savory, salty, and a little crunchy.
You must try these.
In Chinese, they’re called cong you bing, literally “Scallion oil pancake.” They look like pancakes, but they’re definitely not.
Besides, looks don’t mean a thing in my kitchen. I wear ugly t-shirts on a daily basis.
They’re a classic Chinese food, a snack flexible enough to fit in breakfast, contort into lunch, do the limbo under dinner, and handstand its way into your mid-afternoon snacking. Or all of the above, if you make enough of them.
There’s a little backstory to how I discovered these, too. I was first introduced to these by my parents’ friends, when I was around 13 years old. I remember that Asian couple very distinctly.
They were very poor — they made a living by giving massages in the local mall. They lived in a little apartment in a sketchy part of town, a tiny one-bedroom thing.
One day, a storm came through town, knocking out power in our apartment complex. The couple invited us to their apartment to take a shower and eat some dinner. When I came out of their shower, I saw quite a scene.
They stood in a two-person manufacturing line, frying up dozens of these savory pancakes. I mean dozens. It was so intense that every ten seconds, the husband would take a napkin and wipe off the excess oil accumulating on the overhang above the stove.
Seeing my greedy little eyes, they sent us home with two bags full of these. My mom kept trying to suppress my eagerness, probably embarrassed that we were taking something from them when we had so much more than they did.
And now that I’m old enough to know better, I’m a little embarrassed too.
Maybe if we all make these pancakes, we’ll all feel a little embarrassed. And then that feeling will be diluted, and we’ll be okay again.
I’m not opposed to that idea.
Super-Savory Scallion Pancakes
Notes: This recipe makes 4 large pancakes, about 8″ in diameter. Scallions are the same as green onions. Yeah, I just found that out. No shame.
Taste & Texture: The scallions give it a savory flavor, and the sprinkling of salt enhances that. Frying in oil gives them a slightly soft crunch. Done right, these are also multi-layered and flaky, which is a mouth-watering bonus.
- 2 cups flour. Flower may not be used as a substitute.
- 1/2 cup water. The clear kind.
- 1/2 cup scallions. Not scallops.
- Enough oil. Enough to coat your skillet.
- Some salt. Mmm salt.
1. Combine flour and water. Add more or less water, as necessary. You want to form a dough-like consistency.
2. Chop up scallions.
3. Pinch off a 1/2 cup (more or less) of dough and flatten. The shape doesn’t matter, but I like long rectangles.
4. Coat with oil, scallions, and a medium-size sprinkling of salt. Roll it up, creating as many layers as possible.
6. Stand the log on its end and smush it down, flattening it into a circle. Alternatively, you can cup your hands under the rolled-up log and turn it, slowly shaping it into a ball. Then, smush that ball into a flat circle. (I like the 2nd method; it preserves the layers better. It takes more time though.)
7. Fry in a thin layer of oil.
The Extra Mile:
- HOT SAUCE. I recommend the Lao Gan Ma brand chili sauce; it’s sold in Asian supermarkets. That brand is a big deal in China, and it goes with pretty much every Chinese dish. It’s ridiculously good with Lao Gan Ma. GAH. SO. GOOD. (P.S. A big Thank You to one of my followers for bringing this up with me. You can view my original excitement in the Comments section below.)
- Double the recipe. Everyone will love you.
Oh that flakiness, oh that savoriness, oh that crunch… Don’t worry, savory pancakes, I’ll still love you when you’re no longer young and beautiful. You know I will. You know I will.
I honestly did not alter the colors. All the differences in color between pictures are a result of amateur photography. Sorry not sorry.
No matter what time you’re reading this, there’s no excuse not to go and make them right now. They’re also a great midnight snack. Personal experience.