Recipe - Chinese Green Onion Pancakes

Even though I'm Chinese and my mom cooked every day as we were growing up, I never ate too much real Chinese food. Her influences in food were Vietnamese so we had a lot more of that. I remember that the first time I really heard anyone talking about making Chinese green onion pancakes was my college roommate senior year. Curious, I had pieces of this appetizer she made and quickly mumbled happy noises. It was flaky, savory, and salty. What a treat. It took me a long time to finally get myself to making these though because I didn't strongly crave it afterward. However, Duc is a big lover of green onions so I decided it was time to give it a whirl. The recipe largely came from this website (linked) due to my inexperience, and it was fun to follow. Here's what we did:

Step 1: Ingredients (yields four 8" pancakes)

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sesame seed oil
  • 2 cups green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, to fry
  • sea salt

Step 2: Prepping the dough
The dough actually needs some resting time so start on it first. Slowly add boiling water to a bowl of the flour. Stir until a dough forms. Knead that into a ball and cover the bowl with a damp towel. It should rest for at least half an hour at room temperature before being worked with. The boiling water helps to denature the flour's tendency to rise and create holes. In the meantime, chop up green onions. When resting is over, divide dough into four balls and flatten into 8" rounds. Brush sesame oil on top and jelly-roll the pastry up (basically roll the dough, circle it around itself and tuck the tail underneath). Using a rolling pin, re-flatten the mound. Brush on more sesame oil before adding green onions on top.

Step 3: Incorporating green onions
What makes this "pancake" unique is all of the green onions and its texture. You're going to jelly roll it up again before flattening the whole mixture so that all the greens get incorporated. Heat up a large skillet with the vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmery, slide a pancake into the skillet and cook until browned on both sides.

Step 4: Finishing
All of the oil brushing and rolling should have created a multi-layered pancake! Slice each into sixths and top with both fresh green onions (if you want more of them) and sea salt. Enjoy hot!

Photography by Duc Duong.