Although you may think of rice as the main starch consumed in China, there is actually a surprising variety of wheat-based foods. Wheat is grown in northern China as abundantly as rice is grown in southern China. The wheat is transformed into many forms of glorious products like dumplings, noodles, breads and buns. It’s hard to describe the flavor of fresh bread, roasted in a giant barrel on the street and removed fresh and hot for your eager hands and salivating taste buds. This flat bread spreads warmth through your body with each bite of its smoky fresh dough flavor.
Unfortunately, I have not seen this kind of Chinese flatbread (called a bing in Chinese) sold in the US. What I have seen, however, is the scallion pancake. This is a bread easily made without a large oil-drum sized barrel. All you need is a basic wok or frying pan and you can make your own. I didn’t realize how easy it is to make your own until I came across this easy step-by-step guide.
With a simple flour to water ratio and an easy technique, I’ve discovered how versatile these pancakes are. They are a welcome addition to a weekday meal. They reheat beautifully in the toaster, microwave or oven. And best of all? It’s really easy to change the recipe to suit your mood, or the available ingredients. Yes, scallion is the traditional flavor. But who says you can’t use a Vidalia onion? Or sesame seeds? Or even fennel for that matter? All turned out equally delicious. I’m quickly formulating other flavor combinations in my head. What would you make?
Makes 8-10 pancakes
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2. whole wheat flour
2 c. boiling water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. diced scallion, onion, or other flavoring
1. In a large bowl add both flours and salt. Stir to combine.
2. Add boiling water. Use a wooden spoon to combine.
3. When mixture starts to form dough and becomes difficult to stir, use hands to continue to knead in the bowl.
4. Knead the dough for a few minutes to make it nice and stretchy.
5. Break off a small piece of dough, an amount that fits comfortably in your hand.
6. Roll out dough as thin as you can.
7. Drizzle sesame and vegetable oil over dough in about a 1:4 ratio. Use hand to rub the oil evenly over the dough.
8. Liberally sprinkle onions over dough.
9. Roll the dough up around the onions to form a log.
10. Coil the log into a circle.
11. Use hand to press circle flat. Then use rolling pin to roll it out to desired thickness.
12. Heat vegetable in a frying pan over medium heat.
13. Put pancake in hot pan, cooking until brown. Flip and brown other side.