Project (Scallion) Pancake

When my son was a baby starting on solid foods, I fed him plenty of good stuff like vegetables and fruit.  We bought our fair share of jarred baby food but as he got older, I also steamed fresh vegetables like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes for him and fed him fruit like kiwi in hopes that he'd grow into an adventurous, healthy eater if he started off with a diverse diet.

You know...it didn't really work.  Once he realized there were other foods, he wasn't too keen on the kiwi and green beans anymore. My son is a fairly picky eater.  There are plenty of foods he loves to eat (like meat, for instance; and he loves salmon) but when it comes to fruits and vegetables, there's just a cozy group of those that he'll eat (some more willingly than others) as of now.  Because of that, we're constantly having a rotation of sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, potatoes, corn, avocados, apples, watermelon, and bananas.  Leafy vegetables, he is not a fan of.  Green might be his favorite color but that favorable opinion doesn't seem to apply to vegetables for some reason.
Somewhat surprisingly, he's always loved scallion pancakes.  I suppose these crispy pan-fried pancakes, dunked into a salty-sweet dipping sauce, pretty much renders the often itty-bitty amount of scallions hidden in them barely noticeable but I was nonetheless surprised when he first had them years ago at a restaurant and didn't insist on picking out every speck of green.  We used to call them "Chinese pizza" but whatever you call it, it's an appetizer that's hard to resist.

When I realized that scallion pancakes aren't nearly as difficult to make as I assumed, I thought it would be fun to make them with my now 8-year old.  If you'll indulge me, let's consider this the final trilogy in the "P" Projects - Project Pancake after Project Pizza and Project Pretzel.  I think I have a permanent little helper in the kitchen now so that these kitchen "projects" will hopefully becoming more everyday fun for us.
This project gave us another opportunity to play with dough.  No yeast this time - you need little more than all-purpose flour, water, and those scallions. We got a nice little workout kneading the dough.  After kneading and a little rest time (during which time we made a simple dipping sauce - a must), the dough changes from a stiff ball into a soft mound that was surprisingly pliable and easy-to-roll out.  
One recipe makes 8 small scallion pancakes, and you can freeze any you don't cook right away.  You make each by rolling a piece of dough into a small circle, topping it with scallions, and then rolling it up into a cylinder.  Then you curl the cylinder into a round, snail-like shape, flatten it, and roll it out again so that the scallions are embedded into the dough (see photos after the jump). It is time-consuming and I have to tell you that the rolling pin and I are not exactly close friends (we only see each other occasionally).  My little guy was a great helper but I took over the trickier part of the second roll with the scallions.  The Giants were playing the Broncos that afternoon so I let him loose after making the first few to enjoy the game while I continued to roll and roll these babies out...

For a few of the pancakes, I took some of the toasted sesame seeds I was using in the dipping sauce and added them into the pancakes themselves. The sesame seeds didn't make a big impact on the finished pancakes but it goes to show that you can add some other spices and ingredients to your scallion pancakes if you want to be adventurous.
I pan fried the scallion pancakes on a lightly oiled cast iron pan.  Rather than deep frying, this makes these pancakes a lot lighter - one of the reasons I love re-creating restaurant food at home.  Taste-wise, maybe deep frying makes for a more satisfying or "robust" scallion pancake but my fellas and I really enjoyed devouring this lighter version.  We stored extra pancakes in the freezer and took them over to impress grandma and the rest of the extended family about a week later during one of our family dinners!  


You only need a few basic ingredients to make these scallion pancakes.  The dough is simply all-purpose flour and warm water!  You'll also need some vegetable oil to brush onto the dough and to cook the pancakes in, scallions for the filling and some salt.  Playing around a bit, I also used some toasted sesame seeds I had on hand for my dipping sauce and sprinkled some into a few of our pancakes.

To start, simply mix 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour together with about 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl, adjusting the amounts if necessary so that you end up with a smooth dough that is not sticky.  Turn the dough out and knead it for 5 minutes.  Work it!
The little one learning to knead the dough
Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover for about half an hour. During the rest time, we made a simple soy sauce-based dipping sauce (see recipe below). You'll find the dough nice and soft after half an hour.  Turn it out and divide it into 2 pieces.  Roll each piece into a 1-inch thick cylinder.
Then slice 2-inch long pieces from each cylinder or log.  I got a total of 8 segments but the recipe says 6-8.  It's flexible...you'll just end up with slightly larger or smaller pancakes.  
These little pieces of dough remind me of my grandfather.  He used to make dumplings - and food - of all kinds and I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my cousin a few times where he'd given us a piece of the dough to play with while he did real work.  The dough pieces looked a lot like these segments.  It was so much fun and I can see that kids just love playing with all kinds of dough!
To get on with the pancakes, take each piece, roll it out into a rough 5-inch round.  The dough is quite soft and easy to work with.  Lightly brush it with some vegetable, peanut, or canola oil.  Add some scallions and a sprinkle of salt.  For a few, I also added some toasted sesame seeds.
Then roll it up into a cylinder.
Coil the cylinder into a round mound, or snail shape.
Lightly flatten the snail dough and roll it flat again with a rolling pin.  Dust your pin with a bit of flour as needed.  Some scallions will pop out but that's okay.  Just tuck it back in as much as possible.
I'm looking at this picture and thinking: when did my son's hands get so big?
One done, 7 more to go!  I stacked them up between sheets of wax paper. Cover and place any you don't cook right away in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for another time.
To cook, I heated a cast iron pan with a bit of canola oil.  If you have a cast iron pan, I think it's the way to go here since it heats up so well.  The pancakes only need a couple of minutes on each side and are ready when they turn golden brown.
Cut your pancakes up and serve right away, while they're still hot, with some dipping sauce...and that's "Project (Scallion) Pancake"!  


Recipes:

Scallion Pancakes
Adapted from The Chinese Takeout Cookbook

- Makes about eight 5-inch round pancakes -

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
2-3 tablespoons peanut, vegetable, canola oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Place flour and water into a large mixing bowl.  Mix together using a wood spoon (or your hands) until a smooth dough forms.  If the dough is sticky, add a bit more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes.  Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough around so it's lightly filmed with oil all around.  Cover the bowl with a barely damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two pieces. Roll each half into a 1-inch thick cylinder or log.  Using a bench scraper or knife, slice each cylinder into 2-inch long segments.  You should end up with 6-8 pieces of dough segments (I got 8).

To make each scallion pancake, roll each segment into a rough 5-inch circle using a lightly floured rolling pin (the dough should be soft and easy to roll out).  Lightly brush the top of the circle with oil and sprinkle on some scallions and salt.  Also sprinkle over some toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

Roll the circle up into a cylinder, making sure scallions are tucked inside.  Coil the dough into a round, resembling a snail shape.  Lightly press down on the dough and roll out again with a rolling pin (dusting with flour, as necessary) until it is again about a 5-inch circle.  Some of the scallions may pop out of the dough.  Just gently tuck it in as best as you can.  Place the pancake onto a plate.  Repeat with the remaining dough segments, stacking the assembled pancakes between sheets of parchment or wax paper.

To cook pancakes, heat a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add about a teaspoon or so of oil and pan fry the pancake until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. (For a darker, crispier pancake, fry them in a bit more oil.) Press down on the pancakes as it cooks to ensure even cooking and color on the pancakes.  Continue with remaining pancakes, adding more oil between batches.

Slice each pancake into four pieces and serve with dipping sauce (recipe follows).  These pancakes are best eaten immediately, hot from the pan!  If you don't plan to cook all the pancakes, place remaining uncooked pancakes - with wax paper or parchment paper between each - into a freezer bag and freeze for a later date.  Take frozen pancakes out of the freezer to sit on the counter for roughly 15-30 minutes (or until softened), then pan frying until golden brown.


Soy Dipping Sauce for Scallion Pancakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart

(You could always double the recipe depending on your needs but a little goes a long way)

1/4 cup soy sauce (I used a mix of regular and low-sodium)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.




56 comments:

  1. Even when I was a non-veggie lover (shocking that there was such a time!) I still loved scallion pancakes. They are so tasty, how could you not?!

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    1. I can't imagine you not being a veggie lover, ever - so there's hope for my son yet! : )

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  2. I too love scallion pancakes! They are so good hot or cold!

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    1. I've never thought of having it cold!

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  3. I love veggies and these pancakes/parathas are gorgeous. Would be so so perfect with some spicy coconut curry too..Oh yum.

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    1. Oh yes, definitely nice with a spicy curry...lots of things are great with that! : )

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  4. These look so good! This recipe is definitely on my 'to try' list! :)

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    1. Thanks, Sara - hope you try it one day. It's fun to make them yourself even though it's a bit time consuming with the rolling. I'm not very patient with the rolling pin.

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  5. I love scallion pancakes! You and your son did a fantastic job - these look sooo good! I love that you pan fried them in less oil to make them lighter too. I didn't realize there were only a few basic ingredients to these, you make it look so easy :) Thanks for sharing Monica and hope you have a great week :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Kelly! Deep frying makes for a crunchy pancake, obviously...but I'm willing to sacrifice that for a healthier alternative at home. : )

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  6. Looks so good, Monica! I definitely want to try this project at home!

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    1. Thanks, Marie. You would make a great version, I know!

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  7. I love this scallion pancakes...especially when you can see lots and lots of layers...yum!
    Have a great week Monica :D

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  8. Monica, I truly, honestly love these scallion pancakes, I tried with gluten free flour once but didn't get the same crispy effect. I am going to try once again with different combination of flour. So the addition of egg in dough isn't necessary?

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    1. Hi Balvinder - I've seen a few recipes for scallion pancakes and none call for egg in the dough. You've got me thinking about Korean seafood "pancakes" that do have eggs in them but that's more in the case where you're binding other ingredients/fillings together. Scallion pancakes are very basic. I hope you are successful with a gluten-free version; I'm sure many people who need to avoid gluten would be interested in that! As for crispy, deep frying does make for that but I liked lightly frying them for a lighter effect at home.

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    2. Thanks Monica, Now I remember I added egg because the dough was not binding properly and the recipe I had has lard as one of the filling. Yours look much simpler. I like it actually.

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    3. I see...this is probably quite a bit different then. You can't beat the convenience of this dough...it's practically just flour and warm water. That said, it doesn't have a ton of flavor but the bit of salt and scallions help. That's why it's never served without a dipping sauce. Have a great weekend!

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  9. Love the step by step photos and the idea of scallion pancakes!

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  10. I recently discovered how to make homemade scallion pancakes as well, and have been hooked on them since! Love these cooking "projects" with your son - it will surely lead to pleanty of adventurous eating at some point down the road!

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    1. Thank you, Jess! First time I realized how to make the pancakes was watching a chef do it on TV. I was surprised it was that easy! Then I saw the recipe in the cookbook and thought my little one would get a kick out of making his own...and he did! : )

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  11. Okay, I've never had a scallion pancake and I feel like I've been missing out! They sound so good - especially with that dipping sauce! They have such a simple ingredient list too!

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    1. Hi Ashley - yes, they're almost like flatbread - crispy, doughy little "pancakes" with a bit of scallion in them. The dipping sauce is a must! : ) Try them next time you see it on a restaurant menu and see if you like 'em!

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  12. These look so perfectly crisp Monica! And isn't it funny what people like? I've always loved vegetables but my sister hasn't and has had to force herself to eat them! We both love scallion pancakes though! :D

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    1. Yes, our likes/dislikes are really interesting and it's also interesting to see how it changes. I know I am a totally different person now as far as what I like to eat! Scallion pancakes seem to be a universal thing - must be a natural love of carbs!

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  13. My husband would be so ecstatic about these pancakes! Looks great!

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    1. Thanks, Pamela! Guys do like foods you can eat with your hands. : )

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  14. My 3 year-old loves scallion pancakes too! We may need to make these from scratch sometime (we currently are lazy and buy the frozen ones from the Asian grocery store).

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    1. Isn't that funny! I've never seen frozen ones! I need more time to browse the Asian grocery store. I'm always there on my way to 4 other places.

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  15. Yours look great! This is one of the few Chinese dishes I can make better than my MIL. I think it helps that it's not from their region of China. :)

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    1. LOL! Since it's a safe bet your MIL isn't reading my blog, I think you're safe with that declaration. : ) Share some scallion-pancake tips with me!!

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  16. Homemade scallion pancakes! Saved and pinned. I have to do this one of these days. I will probably can't stop eating. :)

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    1. It is one of those things you find yourself dipping and eating and doing so on repeat! Thanks, Nami!

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  17. My nephew is a picky eater too. When I babysat him when he was younger, I had to feed him. We sat at the dining table for HOURS before he was done eating. It was horrible for me, haha! Anyway, scallion pancake is one my absolute favorite dish to order when I'm at Chinese restaurants. I can't get enough of it. Thank you for sharing your recipe and your step-by-step photos Monica. Looks fabulous! :)

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    1. I was a picky eater (still am a bit..) so I suppose I can't complain too much about the children. I think it just takes time and persistence to get them to try and then maybe actually like something new! Scallion pancakes are definitely one of those starters we can't resist so it was fun to try at home. Have a great week!

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  18. i so love your projects! and scallion pancakes this time...what fun. i'm sad to say i've never gotten 'round to making them, although they've been on the list. you've inspired me to try them; those are excellent step by step photos and instructions! so great, monica. :)

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    1. Thanks for appreciating my grainy behind the scenes photos. I used to do them all the time but now I try not to for my own sanity. My son likes these more "unusual" projects, I think...or maybe it's just mom trying to impress him. Either way, it is a fun thing to try. I know you have more patience than I do. : )

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  19. Oh my gosh, I absolutely love scallion pancakes! I'm totally making these soon :) Love that your son enjoys helping in the kitchen so much! I still need to get a cast iron pan...

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    1. Hey Amy - I hope you give it a try one day. My son is coming around...slowly... : )
      I bought my cast iron pan maybe a year ago only. It's really cool for a job like this. The thing heats up in a very scary way!

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  20. One of my favorite Asian snacks to make, love this!

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    1. I bet you make some beautiful scallion pancakes, Nik!

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  21. i love that... my favourite.

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  22. I've never seen something like this before. It's like a cross between a tortilla and naan bread. I totally have to try this! Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Hi Tina - that's so neat when you see something new. I love when that happens to me. The scallion pancake is crisp and chewy, and the dipping sauce is part of the package. You often find it as an appetizer in small Chinese restaurants. I've been to a few small restaurants that actually gave them out as a complementary snack - they are not expensive to make! : )

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  23. I didn't like scallion pancakes up until about two years ago! What a great project with your son again :)

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    1. It's unbelievable to think of all the things I never liked/used to eat and what I do now. Never say never, I tell myself! Thanks, Bianca!

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  24. These look absolutely delicious, Monica! I love scallion pancakes, and like you, always thought they would be hard to make at home. I am so excited to try these!
    Your sous chef is becoming quite experienced with dough! :) I always loved cooking with my kids as they grew up and now, as young adults, they both love to cook! This past summer, I reaped the benefits as my son, now 20, made it his summer challenge to cook his way through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook!
    A reassuring thought about picky eaters: That same son who spent the summer cooking all kinds of vegetables and grains was a very picky eater from birth to before he left for college. As an infant, he would only eat orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, squash) to the point where his skin took on a temporary (thank goodness) orange hue! I don't know what happened when he went away to school but for what ever reason he was inspired to branch out and now eats all kinds of things!

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    1. Hi Wendy! I really appreciate you sharing that with me! You made me laugh and captured my attention. You know...I also had moments when my son was a toddler where I thought he was turning rather orange as well! I scaled back on the sweet potatoes and carrots pretty quickly when I noticed that! And luckily, as you said, it was a temporary thing. : )

      I am so impressed by your son and I feel there's hope for me yet with mine! And the Smitten Kitchen cookbook?! Oh my, you have all been eating very, very well indeed! That is very impressive and lovely that he shares a love of cooking with you.
      Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and thanks again for sharing!

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  25. Oh yum!!!!!! These scallion pancakes look AMAZING!!!!! Love the method of rolling into that cylinder and then shaping it into circles! :)

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    1. Thanks, Samina! I just learned it myself...it works well!

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  26. I so love scallions (or spring onions as we call them here)!! These just jumped out at me!! Totally delicious. I will definitely give them a try!

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    1. Yes - sometimes we call them green onions/spring onions too - I used to hate them as a kid but now I just love it! I have to admit the scallion flavor don't jump out that much in these pancakes - I think it's more the carb fest infiltrated with some greens - but tasty nonetheless. : )

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  27. I love scallion pancakes! But yes, since they're usually deep fried, I have to limit how much of it I eat. Great idea to pan fry in a cast iron pan though! These look delicious!

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    1. Exactly! I feel the same way. The cast iron really gets it seared without needing all that much oil. Thanks, Tiffany!

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