Scallion pancakes (cong you bing) are a popular street food in China and Taiwan, often served with soy sauce. Cooked from dough rather than the batter typical of true pancakes, cong you bing often include fennel, sesame seeds, and bell pepper as well as scallions. One Chinese legend claims that Marco Polo brought scallion pancakes back to Italy with him in the 13th century, inspiring one cook to make his own Italian version in the form of pizza.
Chinese Scallion Pancakes
Makes 4 pancakes, or 24 wedges.
For the pancakes:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
- 1 cup boiling water
- Up to ¼ cup toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
For the dipping sauce:
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. finely sliced scallions
- ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Place flour in bowl of food processor (see note). With processor running, slowly drizzle in about ¾ cup of boiling water. Process for 15 seconds. If dough does not come together and ride around the blade, drizzle in more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in a refrigerator.
- Divide dough into four even pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Roll out one ball into a disk roughly 8 inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Using a pastry brush, brush a very thin layer of sesame oil over the top of disk. Roll disk up like a jelly roll, then twist roll into a tight spiral, tucking the end underneath. Flatten gently with your hand, then re-roll into an 8-inch disk.
- Brush with another layer or sesame oil, sprinkle with ½ cup scallions, and roll up like a jelly roll again. Twist into a spiral, flatten gently, and re-roll into a 7-inch disk. Repeat steps two and three with remaining pancakes.
- Combine all sauce ingredients and set aside at room temperature.
- Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully slip one pancake into the hot oil. Cook, shaking the pan gently until first side is an even golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula or tongs (be careful not to splash the oil), and continue to cook, shaking pan gently, until second side is an even golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Season with kosher salt and cut into 6 wedges. Repeat with remaining 3 pancakes. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping.