During this time, I’ve especially missed comfort food by my mom, and have been brainstorming ways to recreate and reinvent some old favorites! She always has scallion pancakes in the works when we visit, sizzling audibly on the stovetop. These are usually crisp on the edges, flaky with layers inside, salty and fragrant with green onions. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I’ve heard their frozen version is actually pretty good!
Traditionally, scallion pancakes are made from a dough that’s kneaded, rested, twisted, then rolled out amongst other steps. It’s labor intensive in my opinion (example of a traditional recipe), so we’ve been testing out a few shortcuts! Below are two simplified methods that are pretty good – note that #1. the batter method results in a texture closer to soft pita wrap (which my toddler also loves), while #2. the dumpling wrapper method results in something closer to a crisp tortilla.
I usually eat these alone or with some congee or soup, but Nick was inspired by a local Boston restaurant Mei Mei and whipped up a few vegetarian friendly scallion pancake sandwiches. I definitely raised an eyebrow as he made these, by my oh my they were delicious! The pancake sandwiches from restaurants are a little too heavy for me, but by cooking your own at home, you can control the oil and let the other ingredients shine.
Shortcut Scallion pancake methods
1. Batter method
Super simple using pantry ingredients. You won’t get the flaky layers inside but I thought these were pretty good for how easy they were, and Nori loves them. Method is based on this post by China Sichuan Cooking with some adjustments.
QUICK SCALLION PANCAKES
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 plus 1/3 cup water
- 3 to 4 full stalks scallions chopped small
- 1/8 tsp salt plus more for sprinkling while in the pan
- oil for pan frying and brushing on top
- Mix the flour, water and 1/8 tsp salt in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add in the scallions. It’s tricky to measure flour precisely, but you want the batter consistency to be fluid, like a heavy cream and not too thick. Adding a few Tbs more water if you need to thin it out can also help the end result be less doughy in the center and more crisp around the edges.
- Heat 1 Tbs vegetable or avocado oil or just enough to coat the bottom of the pan over medium heat, in a medium sized frying pan. We used avocado oil here just for the higher smoking point compared to olive oil.
- After the oil is heated, use a large ladle to pour some batter into the center of the pan and quickly swirl the pan around to get the batter to spread out as THINLY as possible, like making a crepe. Using less batter at a time to make smaller pancakes also results in a more evenly cooked texture in the center.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat or until the bottom is lightly browned and crisp (lift a corner to check). Once it’s lightly browned, brush the top of the pancake with oil, sprinkle salt on top, then flip over and cook the other side for 4 to 5 more minutes. Adjust salt to your tastes, making sure you’re using enough to bring out the scallion flavor.
- Optional: brush some sesame oil on the cooked side and then flip it again to sear for just a few more seconds. Sesame oil tends to lose its fragrant flavor after cooking, so I like to do this just near the end.
- Cut into triangles and enjoy!
These can easily be made in advance and refrigerated, then warmed up by re-searing in a pan on medium high heat right before serving. We think these are even tastier reheated – and in essence, double pan fried.
The method shared by China Sichuan Food involved drizzling the batter in a circular motion, filling in some of the gaps, then using the back of the ladle to flatten it out and get it as thin as possible. You have to work very quickly otherwise parts of the pancake will cook unevenly or stick to the ladle. This is worth trying as as it creates a nice texture, but a speedier way is to just use the ladle, spooning some batter into the center of the pan, then quickly swirling the pan around to get the batter to spread out.
I eat these plain or dip into a soy, black vinegar, and sesame oil mixture, or some Trader Joe’s chili onion crunch hot sauce. Nick enjoyed his in the form of this breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, sriracha mayo (he does 1 part sriracha, 4 parts mayo, small splash of fish sauce), and grated cheese on top. This sandwich would be so good with some leafy greens like arugula, but we only had avocado! I love this egg and sauce combo just on some toast, too.
2. Store bought dumpling wrappers method
My mom has mentioned this method to me before as an interesting shortcut shared on Chinese cooking forums, and I’ve also seen it on Woks of Life. Whoever came up with it is genius because this does deliver somewhat flaky layers without the dough kneading work. Not to mention, a great way to use up leftover wrappers if you’re making dumplings at home (see our potstickers recipe here).
Easy to make as few as you want at one time, keeping the rest of the dumpling wrappers in an airtight container and refrigerated)
- Store bought dumpling wrappers, usually found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores or international markets. You’ll need 4 to 5 wrappers per pancake. IMPORTANT: Use round, white dumpling wrappers and not yellow, square, or wonton wrappers which are too thin for this hack. The ones I’m using here are by Twin Marquis brand.
- Oil for brushing and pan-searing.
- Scallions, chopped. I use approximately 1 full stalk of scallions per pancake.
- Salt for sprinkling on
1. Put chopped scallions, oil, and some salt in separate little bowls to get everything organized.
2. On a cutting board or clean, dry surface, place 1 dumpling wrapper on the surface.
3. Brush with a thin layer of oil (use a paper towel if you don’t have a brush), sprinkle with a little salt and scallions. Note that many store bought dumpling wrappers already have salt in them. I cooked one finished pancake to test, then adjusted salt and scallion levels accordingly for subsequent ones.
4. Place another dumpling wrapper on top like a sandwich and firmly press it down with your palm and fingers to flatten. Next, repeat with the oil brushing, sprinkling of salt and scallions, and new layer of dumpling wrapper. I did 5 layers in total.
5. After your last layer, firmly press everything down again and then roll it out with a rolling pin until thin.
6. Heat 1 Tbs oil or just enough to coat the bottom of a pan over low-medium heat (lower heat than the batter method to avoid burning the thin dumpling wrappers). After the oil is heated, pan fry your scallion pancake about 3-4 minutes on each side. Lift an edge to check doneness, and when the bottom is lightly browned, brush a little oil on top and flip.
I found these were best enjoyed immediately!
Again I usually eat my scallion pancakes alone, but this sandwich Nick put together was delightful.
We usually have blanched broccoli crowns on hand for Nori and various dishes like pasta, and they worked perfectly here as a filling:
- Start with a handful of blanched broccoli florets. We dip broccoli crowns in boiling water for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes so it still has a crisp texture, and keep some of the stalks for extra crunch.
- Mix 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste or sriracha (optional), and 1 teaspoon hot water to thin out the hoisin.
- Toss the broccoli florets into the sauce. I used a pan here just as a quick way to heat up leftover broccoli and mix with the sauce.
- Place into a pancake, drizzle Kewpie mayo on top, and enjoy. Sub regular mayo if you don’t have Kewpie, but I do love this Japanese version of mayo made with some rice vinegar!
For more easy meal ideas, check out our other Extra (Ap)Petite recipe posts!