Friday, April 27, 2007

Green Onion Pancake - Weekend Herb Blogging

This week is my first foray into Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food, and I’m featuring my favorite herb, the green onion. The green onion, also called the scallion or spring onion (or shallot in Australia), is a member of the allium family which includes the onion, garlic, leek, and many others. Technically speaking, scallions are younger and do not have a bulb whereas green onions have a small partially formed bulb, but for the most part, the names are used interchangeably. The green onion is an herb that’s indispensable in Chinese cooking and it’s the one herb I always have in my fridge. The green part is milder in flavor and is much like an herb whereas the white bulb is stronger and more oniony. Green onions are often served raw, but one thing I learned from my dad is to slice and panfry them quickly in a little bit of oil. He calls it “bao,” which means to burst. The flavor of the green onion bursts in hot oil, which changes the flavor and releases the aroma. Raw green onions can be a bit harsh and sometimes soapy tasting, but heating them in oil cuts the harshness, rounds out the flavor, and makes it much more aromatic. You’ll notice a big difference in the smell; raw green onions don’t really smell like anything but after panfrying, it smells amazingly fragrant. The green onions and hot oil is then added on top of foods like tofu or tossed in a salad.

Green onion pancakes (cong you bing) are a breakfast and snack staple in China and Taiwan. Unlike a traditional pancake, it is made with dough instead of batter. The end result is a chewy flatbread. Panfrying the pancakes releases the aroma from the green onion and makes them smell irresistible. Boiling hot water is used to gelatinize some of the gluten in the flour making a chewy pancake. A combination of hot and cold water creates a dual textured, chewy and crispy pancake. Whether you use all hot water or both hot and cold is up to you. Traditionally lard or peanut oil is brush the dough but I used butter instead.

Green Onion Pancake

2 1/2 C AP flour
3/4 C boiling water
1/4 C cold water
1/2 tsp salt
About 3 Tbsp butter, softened
About 3 Tbsp finely chopped green onion, 2 – 3 green onions
Oil for pan frying

Add flour and salt to a bowl, pour in hot water and stir to combine. Let the dough cool down a bit then add the cold water and knead the dough until smooth. You can do this in a standing mixer, food processor, or by hand.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rest for an hour.

Roll the dough into a snake and divide into 8 pieces. This will yield 6 in pancakes about 1/4-in thick. You can divide the dough into more pieces for smaller, cuter pancakes.

Take one piece of dough, leaving the rest covered, and roll it out into a large and thin circle, the thinner the circle the more layers the pancake will have. Spread a very thin layer of softened butter on the dough, about 1 teaspoon. Sprinkle or spread about a teaspoon of chopped green onions on top of the butter.

Roll up the dough into a tight tube. Then take the tube and form a coil and pinch the seam shut.

Do this to the remaining pieces of dough, so you have 8 rolls. You can chill it in the fridge for a few minutes to solidify the butter or just proceed to rolling them. Roll out each bun into a pancake, depending on the thickness you prefer. For a chewier pancake keep the pancake a little thicker; if you want a crispy thin pancake, roll it out thinner.

You can stack the pancakes in between sheets of plastic wrap and freeze the extras.

Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry each side of the pancake for a few minutes until it’s crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels to blot away excess oil. Cut into wedges and serve with soy sauce or soy paste if desired.

Yields: 8 6-in pancakes about 1/4-in thick.

Weekend Herb Blogging is a wonderful event created by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and this week it’s hosted by Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food.


aminah said...

oh that looks lovely..I am making that tommorow definetly!!!

Anh said...

I made this a couple of times, too since my flatmates love it... Very good for snacking.

Gattina Cheung said...

great tip on "bao"!!!
A recipe I tried that calls for hot water, its texture and flavor are more close to the street food style in Hongkong.
Your cakes are just too beautiful, I have no heart to eat..errr wait, 2 servings first please :D

Glenna said...

Amy--looks really yummy. I would love to have some right now! Welcome to weekend herb blogging.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I couldn't agree more with your detailed description of the transformation from raw to cooked green onions. The heat really mellows their sharpness and makes them so much more flavorful. I only use raw onions occasionally in a quick salsa. Your pancakes would be delicious any time of the day!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I love green onion pancakes. Is it that simple? I'm gonna have to try this soon. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

I just went to the organic farmstand and bought a bunch of green onions - these were so long like 2 ft long! So they are perfect for this pancake!

Amy said...

Thanks! I hope you like them. :)

I agree, they're really good for the midafternoon or midnight munchies. :D

Thanks! I saw your recipe too, the photos looked mouthwatering!

Thank you! WHB is a great event, I hope to participate more often. :)

Thanks! Cooking green onions is the only way I can get Steven to eat them. :) I really love how they smell but it's really hard to describe the fragrance, can't put my finger on it.

It can be a little time consuming, but they're easy to make at home. :)

Steamy Kitchen,
Wow that must be quite the sight! I've never seen green onions that long!

Sig said...

Amy, that looks beautiful, crispy and delicious! I love green onions too, didn't know the difference between scallions and green onions!

Freya said...

Great idea! Looks like a quesadilla at first but on reading I could see it was something that could be much better!

Amy said...

Thank you! I didn't know either until I looked it up on wikipedia. It always amazes me just how much info wikipedia has. :D

Freya and Paul,
Thanks! It does look like a quesadilla! :P

Kalyn Denny said...

What a great post. Welcome to WHB! I've eaten pancakes similar to this and agree, they're really special. No idea how they were made though, so this is most interesting.

Helene said...

What a nice post, and great yummy recipe!!

Anonymous said...

This looks so light and crispy!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amy, you did the unthinkable - after making hundreds of crepes this weekend, you made me feel like going to the kitchen and make these pancakes! Delicious!

P.S.: Being an extremely visual person, love, love, love the step-by-step photos.

Astrid (…and the kitties too) said...

they look very delicious! I never mader such pancakes nor ate them, but now I think I'll try them.

Amy said...

Thank you! I plan to start an herb garden this summer so I'll have plenty of fresh herbs to write about for WHB. :)

Thank you!

The outer layers were flaky and crisp and the insides were chewy. Yum yum :)

You are such a daring baker! I wouldn't have enough patience to make a cake like that. And if I did manage to make a crepe cake I would probably not cook for a week! :D
I'm a visual person myself. I really wish I did more step by step photos for all my recipes but sometimes it's really difficult to manage/remember. I need an extra set of hands. :P

Thanks! I hope you give these a try. :)

Grace Alberti said...

Hi - I have a wheat allergy and have to use either brown rice or tapioca flour.
I tried to make the pancakes and the flour was crumbly and not elastic? I was wondering if there were any tips? Maybe I should try another type of flour - like chickpea or something ?

Thanx for the great recipe though - They look delicious -

Amy said...

Hi Drea,
I’m sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with non-wheat flours so I can’t say how you would adjust the recipe, maybe try adding more water? Sorry again I can’t help.

Anonymous said...

Oh my...your blog is full of such great recipes!

Amy said...

Thank you so much! :)

Anonymous said...

I just got back from Lijiang and have been craving the "Naxi pancakes" that we ate there. I've had a terrible time trying to find the recipe, but this looks very close to what we ate. Thanks for the picture. It helps. The ones we had also had little bits of pork in them. They were addictive!!! Thanks for sharing.

Gitto said...

Hi Amy!

I translated (and converted) your lovely recipe for my swedish blog. You can see the result here.

They were really great and I tried to use duck fat in half of them, which I can recommend as a variation.

trina said...

Thanks! This is really informative!

jasmine said...

thanks for the recipe! might try it out today, but we only have whole wheat flour left...nice blog :)

Miss Yuni said...

Dear Amy,

I tried your recipe, substituting oil for butter. However, my pancakes came out all white, hard, and extremely DRY with black burnt pokadots all over. It tastes like cardboard with onions inside. I know I made a mistake somewhere...

I was wondering... what did I do wrong?


Amy said...

Miss Yuni,

If the pancake was dry inside, was your dough soft and pliable? Maybe too much flour in the dough? Try spreading more oil inside the pancake. Sounds like you may need to use more oil when you pan fry the pancakes and use a lower heat so the pancakes don't dry out when you cook them. My pancakes sometimes get the black polka dots if my pan is running out of oil and it's getting too hot. Hope that helps!

kathy mayeda said...

I have been having these in restaurants lately. It seems like the green onions are mixed in with the dough at some point. Have you ever tried that and at what point do you think the green onions be added?


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