Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Large Chinese scallion pancake (蔥油大餅)

Ever since I was little, I've always loved scallion pancakes. My mom would make these from scratch at home, and we sometimes would order them at dim sum houses in Philadelphia. It was fun to judge the restaurants' versions because some of them would be too crispy, too oily, or too thick. In my mind, my mom's version was always the best.

Many years later, my mom was inspired by some of her friends and some of the restaurants in Taiwan. They made a very large scallion pancake called da bing (大餅).  She kept experimenting with the recipe to successfully recreate what she loved about this appetizer. It was crispy on the outside, fluffy like a bread on the inside, and contained the scallions and salt that she loved about a traditional scallion pancake. After many rounds of tweaking, she finally nailed the recipe.

I am fortunate that Mom gave me the completed recipe so I didn't have do all the trial and error myself. Having a toddler at home makes it hard for me to spend the time to experiment on my own, so I am glad that I didn't need to make any additional revisions for this da bing.

My husband and I recently joined a CSA, and in our very first box was a bunch of large spring onions. It was the perfect way to showcase this fresh produce while also tackling one of Mom's recipes. I found that I needed more flour than what my mom listed, but otherwise, the flavor and texture of the da bing is just as Mom makes it. My husband noted that this rivaled my mom's version, and I take that as the highest compliment.

You can serve this plain, or like my husband, dip it in some Asian sweet chili sauce for an added kick. The da bing will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Just make sure you wrap it tightly with tin foil or put it in an air-tight container. You can reheat in the microwave (about 30 seconds or so for a wedge) or in the oven (350 for about 5 min).

Ingredients
  • 2 cups of water or milk (Mom and I use milk but she says water could work too)
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups of all purpose flour (I probably used up to 4 or 5 cups)
  • 1 packet of yeast (not the instant kind)
  • Sugar (about 1/2 tsp)
  • Salt
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Oil
Directions
Warm the milk in the microwave so that it's no longer cold. Do not scald or boil the milk.

Add the sugar to the milk and stir. Then add the yeast and let it proof for about 5 minutes.  You should see the top get foamy.

Add the milk mixture to the flour and mix until just incorporated. Set it aside and let it rise for about 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1 cm thick. Then, using a brush, coat the top of the dough with some oil. Sprinkle the surface with salt and chopped scallions.

Roll, jelly-roll style into a long rope. Coil the rope into a circle and flatten/roll out with a rolling pin. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rise for another 2 hours. Your da bing should end up being about 10 inches in diameter and at least 1 inch thick.

Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or pan. On LOW heat (do not turn this to medium or high heat!), slowly pan fry the dough. Once the bottom starts to get crispy and the dough looks done on one side (about 10 minutes later), flip the pancake over and brown the other side. This pan-frying step should take about 20 minutes total - 10 minutes on each side. Remember to go low and slow!

Once done, the top and bottom of the pancake should be crispy and the inside should be fully cooked. Cut into pie-sliced wedges and serve.


Source: My mom (original source unknown)
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4 comments:

  1. This looks like such a homey meal... in the picture did you add red peppers too?

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    Replies
    1. No, there aren't red peppers in there. It's not a traditional ingredient in this scallion pancake but you could certainly try it if you like a little bit of heat! Let me know how it goes if you give it a try!

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  2. thanks for sharing.

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