Citizens, many of you perhaps assume China is a country where rice is the primary starch. While certainly true in the South, Northern Chinese raise wheat, not rice and this delicious fried scallion bread (usually referred to as a “pancake”) reigns supreme!
My version of this toothsome treat uses melted chicken fat and a touch of sesame oil for frying to add real savor – you can use just corn oil if you so prefer. I also added a touch of ground Sichuan peppercorns, but this is totally optional, Citizens!
Regardless, I think you will find my version to be the most flavorsome you’ve ever tried!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 ¾ cups cake flour
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons corn oil, plus more for frying
1 ¼ cups boiling water
Sesame oil mixed with melted chicken fat for brushing
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Fresh-ground Szechuan Peppercorn (optional)
3 bunches scallions (green onions), white and light green parts, minced
1. Measure the flour by scooping it into a measuring cup, then leveling it off. Mix the flours and salt together in a bowl or food processor. Add the oil and then stir in the water gradually to form a cohesive dough. Knead into a ball – or, if using a food processor, process until the mixture comes together into a ball – then turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead two minutes by hand. Cover with a moist dish towel and let rest for half an hour.
2. Roll the dough into the shape of a snake and cut this into 12 segments, rolling each of these into a ball. Cover them with a moist towel until needed.
3. Take one ball, roll it out into a circle, brush it thinly with sesame oil/chicken fat mixture, and sprinkle it liberally with scallions and a touch of kosher salt as well as a tiny pinch of freshly-ground szechuan peppercorn (optional).
4. Carefully roll the circle up into a cigar shape as if making a jelly roll. This distributes the scallions evenly throughout and creates layers of dough in which air bubbles are trapped. These will expand from the heat of frying and leaven the pancake.
5. Coil the cigar into the shape of a cinnamon roll, with the seam on the inside.
6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 for each of the remaining balls of dough. Cover these coils with a moist dish towel and let rest for half an hour.
7. Roll each pancake flat. They should be about 5 inches wide and ¼-inch thick. But be careful not to roll too hard. If you lose those air bubbles, you’ll get scallion hockey pucks.
8. Heat ⅛ inch of corn oil (to which you’ve added a goodly amount of melted chicken fat and a touch of sesame oil) over a medium flame in a 12-inch skillet (nonstick works great). When the oil is hot, fry the pancakes three or four at a time (don’t crowd them), giving them 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve and eat immediately.