Scallion pancakes were never part of our takeout repertoire when I was a kid. My little sister got steak-on-a-stick, my mom and I shared spare ribs, spring rolls and wonton soup, and my dad was most often banished to the garage to enjoy his lobster egg foo young in private, where it could not offend our delicate lady sensibilities. It wasn’t until I met Malcolm in college and we started our own ordering traditions, in his first floor room in Dominican Hall, that I had a scallion pancake. Whilst watching the impish Ralph Macchio jam alternately on blues guitar and Jami Gertz in the 1980’s classic fish out of water/coming of age/magical black man Faustian dramedy we call “Crossroads,” we ate Chinese food from wherever would deliver to our peculiar little ghetto of New Haven. Twelve years later, here we are. On the farm in Topsham, still hanging out. Since we can’t get scallion pancakes the way we like them, I thought I’d try to do it myself. As often happens with most everything, it’s so much easier than you think. So simple, in fact, you wonder why so many are so bad. Ponder that while you wait for the dough to rest and the oil to heat.
Adapted from a recipe by Serious Eats
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 cups thinly sliced scallions (the green parts only)
- about 1/8 cup toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1. In a food processor slowly add 3/4 cups boiling water to the flour and whirl until the mixture comes together, about 15 seconds.[You can add more water one tablespoon at a time if it doesn’t]. Turn dough onto floured work surface and knead a little, forming it into a smooth ball. Allow dough to rest in a bowl covered with a dampened cloth for at least thirty minutes. Then, divide into four equal portions.
2. On a floured board roll out one quarter into an 8 inch disc. Dab with a few drops of sesame oil and brush to coat very lightly and evenly. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, small and tight. Twist into a spiral and tuck the end underneath.
3. Begin to flatten with the heel of your hand, then use your rolling pin to form an 8 inch disc. Dab and brush with sesame oil and 1/4 of your scallions. Roll it up like a jelly roll then spiral, as you did in step 2. Use a rolling pin to flatten into a 7 inch disc.
4. In a skillet heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high. When sizzling slide in the pancake and shake the pan while cooking two minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and salt to taste. Repeat with the other three portions of dough.
Serve with the dipping sauce we made for dumplings: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, ginger, and scallions works really nicely here. Don’t be intimidated, the process is not as complicated as it seems. And the result is flaky, light and amazing. These pancakes are so good you’ll think the devil himself helped you do it.