There’s a home video tucked away somewhere of me, age 8 or 9, standing in my kitchen, wearing a stained tee shirt and belting out an improvised musical number as I wield a rolling pin and crank out scallion pancakes. It was a Sunday morning tradition in my family, and I took my job very seriously. Years later, and I still find myself with the most epic scallion pancake cravings (so much so that I recently held some friends hostage for a dumpling and scallion pancake party).
At first glance this might seem like a lot of work, but hang tight — it requires some basic chopping, mixing, and rolling, and then you’re in business, snacking on hot, crispy, flaky triangles of goodness. Bonus: this is one of those rare recipes that is actually fun to make with someone, so grab a friend!
1 bunch scallions, chopped (~6 stalks)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Make the filling first: Combine your chopped scallions, oil, black pepper and salt in a bowl, mixing to combine. Sprinkle the baking soda on top, give it a quick extra toss, then set aside while you make the dough.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup really hot water
1/4 cup very cold water
1/4 cup neutral oil
WITH A STANDING MIXER*: add the flour, sugar, and salt, and mix briefly on low speed until combined. With the mixer going, slowly drizzle in the hot water until a scraggy dough forms (this should take about 1 minute). Turn the speed up slightly, then slowly pour in the cold water, then the oil. Mix on medium for 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth. Immediately form it into a ball and wrap it tightly in saran wrap. Let it rest on your kitchen counter for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
*note: I’ve used both the dough hook and the paddle attachment, and both work just fine (the paddle makes a ruckus because it throws the dough around more than the hook attachment, but doesn’t affect the outcome of the dough).
BY HAND: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. In one slow, steady stream, drizzle in the hot water as you stir the flour mixture into a dough, moving in circular motions with your fingers. It should come together into a scraggy dough. After a minute of kneading, add the cold water and then the oil, continuing to mix as you pour. Knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth. Immediately form it into a ball and wrap it tightly in saran wrap. Let it rest on your kitchen counter for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
It may look weird and lumpy as it first comes together…
…but after a few minutes it’s smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Rolling out and frying
After your dough has rested, cut it into four equal pieces, lightly flour your work surface, then take one piece and form it into a ball. From there, roll it out like you would a pizza (you want as much surface area as you can get), then sprinkle the top with a layer of scallions. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, then fold it twice lengthwise, so that it’s like a cute little package (see below). Flatten it with the palm of your hand, then go back and do the same for the other three pieces of dough.
Once you have all four scallion filled dough balls, roll them out to about a 1/8 inch sheet. As you roll, scallions may come squirting out the sides, but don’t worry about that, just keep rolling.
Heat a large skillet or cast iron with enough neutral oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Let it get nice and hot before gently placing your scallion pancake in the skillet. Let it fry for a few minutes over medium heat, or until the bottom is golden and crispy. The top will bubble up as it cooks, and your mouth will start to water. Now’s your chance to make a quick dipping sauce — I always use my basic dipping sauce found at the bottom of this post.
Flip the pancake and cook for a few more minutes, or until the edges are nice and crisped up. If it looks doughy or more like naan than a scallion pancake, try rolling out the next one a little extra so it’s slightly thinner. Transfer the hot pancake to a cutting board and immediately slice and serve.
So damn good and tasty, if I do say so myself.