Has anyone else noticed that this blog is 99.99% "she cooks" and 0.01% "he bakes"? It has been awhile since I've posted anything, and I think it's about time I start pulling my weight on this blog. That said, I haven't baked anything new lately. So what to blog about? Well, my latest obsession is flat bread, the kind that you heat on the stove rather than the oven. Eventually we'll talk flour tortillas, but today I'm starting with one of my favorites in honor of the newly begun year of the rabbit.
Scallion pancakes are quite possibly China's greatest gift to humanity. I know what you're thinking... what about gunpowder, the compass, paper, the fork, negative numbers, kites, and Mahjong? Well, fry up a few of these and then tell me what you think.
adapted from Appetite for China
Scallion pancakes are chewy, tender, flaky and so insanely delicious that you don't mind burning your fingertips to eat them while they're hot. I like to dip them in a mixture of soy sauce and garlic/chile oil (heat some peanut oil in a wok, add some roughly chopped garlic, cook on low until garlic is fragrant and translucent, add crushed red chile flakes, done). These are a good late-night snack or as a first course for a Chinese dinner.
2 cups / 290g all purpose flour, divided into two bowls
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lard or vegetable oil
1/2 cup / 118g warm water
1/2 cup / 118g boiling water
1 cup finely chopped scallions or garlic chives
additional oil for coating pancakes and frying
Divide the flour evenly into two medium sized bowls. In one bowl, mix in the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Whisk for a minute or two until smooth. In the other bowl, add the salt and then pour in the boiling water. (The heat from the boiling water helps to release the starch and make the pancakes less floury.) Whisk for a couple of minutes. Once the bowl cools to the touch a bit, add the mixture from the other bowl. Mix on medium with a paddle attachment until the dough begins to ball up, then add the lard or vegetable oil. Continue mixing, switching to a dough hook if necessary, until the dough pulls back from the sides of the mixing bowl. It will still be a little sticky and will probably not clear the bottom of the bowl. (If you don't have a standmixer, fear not -- you'll just have to give your arms a workout, starting with a wooden spoon and then eventually switching to knead it by hand until smooth.)
Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover. Let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes. Then turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll into a log. Divide the dough into approximately 20 ping-pong ball sized pieces. One at a time, using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each ball into a thin disk. Brush the surface with a scant amount oil (peanut works great; some people like sesame but I think the flavor is too strong) and sprinkle on a small handful of chopped scallions or garlic chives -- just enough to lightly cover the surface.
Roll up the disc into a tight cylinder, and then coil up the cylinder.
Repeat this for each piece of dough. Next, using your floured rolling pin, flatten each coil into a pancake. Ours end up approximately 5 inches in diameter.
To cook the pancakes, heat up a wide nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add an ample amount of oil (at least 1 tablespoon); once heated, add as many pancakes as will fit in the pan. Cook until golden brown and flip to cook the other side. Generally, it takes ours between 2-3 minutes per side, but the timing will depend on how hot your pan is. Continue cooking as many as you like, replenishing the oil as necessary.