Scallion Pancakes

葱油饼 (cong you bing), or scallion pancake, is served alongside dipping sauce as an appetizer at some Chinese restaurants. It is delicious. It's made by rolling a disc of dough into a cigar, and then twisting it into a coil which is again rolled out, forming lots of flaky layers. It's then pan-fried in oil, so that the outside is really crisp while the inside is flaky, soft, and filled with salty scallion goodness. So yeah, you usually order it as an appetizer, but I could definitely eat a whole stack for dinner. Or any time of the day. They're very good wrapped around barbecued anything, as well.

It's pretty simple to do, too. It's not a quick recipe, but rolling out the dough takes up a majority of the time. You could just buy a frozen package of these from your local Asian grocery, but those store-bought pancakes won't come close to the deliciousness of home-made ones. You can even stack these between wax paper or plastic wrap and stick them in the freezer for up to a month, and just throw them into a pan when you want them.

Scallion Pancakes

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of warm water, plus some extra
3 scallions, thinly sliced
kosher salt
vegetable oil or vegetable shortening (shortening will give you a slightly flakier pancake. mm.)

Start off by making your dough. I like to do it in a food processor because I'm lazy, but you could just as easily do it by hand. Start off by adding 1/2 cup of warm water to the flour and incorporating well. Gradually add water in teaspoon increments until the dough is pliable and easily comes off the sides of the bowl. You want the dough to be just barely sticky, but not rock-hard. Cover with a damp tea towel and let sit for 30 minutes so the dough can relax.

Next, roll the dough out with your hands into a semblance of a log, and divide into six pieces. Take one piece out and cover what you're not using. Roll it out into a round about 10" across, then brush with oil or shortening, sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and plenty of scallions (the more, the better!). Pick up one end of the round and begin rolling it into a tight little cigar.

Pinch the ends of the cigar to seal them, and then twist the dough around itself until it forms a spiral. Press this down.

Roll this out again into 8 - 10" round. Don't go too thin, otherwise all the layers will smoosh together. 1/8" thickness should do. Heat up a non-stick or cast iron pan on medium heat, and add enough oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Oil = crispiness, which is what we want. Don't skimp!

When the oil is hot enough so that a small piece of dough starts sizzling immediately after being added, throw in one of your pancakes. Cook for about 3 - 4 minutes a side, turning over when it's golden brown.

Drain the cooked pancake on a paper towel, and slice into wedges when you're ready to serve. These are great by themselves, but you can also mix up a little sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar and ginger if you'd like. Enjoy!

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