The Shanghai scallion pancakes were like a symphony of flavors that danced in my mouth with each bite. As an avid food enthusiast, I can confidently say that these pancakes were nothing short of extraordinary, and I highly recommend trying them out.
In what ways do Shanghai’s scallion pancakes vary from those found elsewhere?
The scallions in these Shanghai pancakes (and the pork fat) made them thicker, fluffier, and more flavorful than those in other cities’ versions. Just watching the vendors at work was a real treat.
It’s hard to observe the preparation process; locals queued up at this stand every morning to purchase the crisp breakfast treat that would kickstart their day.
China is very proud of these low-key vendors selling traditional Shanghai street food. They may not be wealthy or powerful, but they have earned respect for maintaining traditional culture and authentic regional cuisine.
An Adapted Recipe For Home Cooks
So as you know, this is different from what I saw in Shanghai. This may be a first, but we decided to omit the pork suet (i.e., pork fat) from this recipe because it was too decadent!
The Shanghai scallion pancake master at our preferred stall would take a big pinch of pork fat and knead it into Every. Single. Pancake.
Although the pork fat made the scallion pancakes unbelievably tasty, we opted to err on caution.
For the dough:
- 2¼ cups of all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. of salt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 tsp. of peanut oil
For the uncooked Roux:
- 3 tbsp. of vegetable or peanut oil
- 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. of salt
You’ll also need the following:
- 2 bunches of scallions (finely chopped)
- Vegetable or peanut oil
- Firstly, you need to get the dough ready. Make a sticky dough by combining 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup warm water in a medium mixing bowl. Combine using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The dough needs to be sticky but not wet. If the dough appears too wet to handle, add up to 2 tablespoons of flour.
- Then, brush the oiled teaspoon over the dough disc’s surface. Don’t bother yourself too much about the dough sticking to the bowl. Rest for an hour or two in the fridge after wrapping it in plastic.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of oil, 1/3 cup of flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to make the flour and oil roux. Putting aside.
- After the dough has rested, oil your work surface with a couple of teaspoons. You can use any clean stone or wood counter in the kitchen. Pull the dough out and oil your hands and the counter if it’s sticking. The oil ensures a pliable texture and prevents the ingredients from clumping together.
- Cut the dough in half across, then in half again lengthwise, and roll out each half into a long strip. Then, using your hands, spread about a quarter of the roux along the entire length of the dough. Use half a cup of the chopped scallions to cover the dough’s entire length.
- The next step is to roll the dough while periodically folding and tucking in the edges to prevent the scallions from escaping. You’ll have a cute little package that needs to be protected from drying out, so wrap it in plastic as soon as possible. Do the same with the remaining three pancakes. If you want easier rolling, you can let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Warm 4 tablespoons of oil in a cast-iron skillet set over medium heat. Then, place the dough ball, spiral side up, on the counter. Press the dough ball down until it’s about an inch thick using your hands or a rolling pin. Put it in the skillet.
- Getting the pan nice and hot is important so the dough sizzles and browns evenly. Flip the pancake by moving the dough around in the oil as it cooks. After 2 minutes, flip the pancake over carefully so as not to splatter the oil.
- Flatten the pancake to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch using a cast iron grill press or heavy pot, then continue frying for 2 more minutes. If you want a darker brown on one side, flip it.
- Then, bake the scallion pancake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes to crisp it up. Our tiny toaster oven on the countertop did the job just fine.
- To serve, remove the pancakes from the oven and cut them into wedges. You can add more salt at this point for flavor if you like.