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Crispy and flaky pan fried scallion pancakes on parchment paper.
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Taiwanese green onion pancake recipe (Cong you bing)

Taiwanese green onion pancake (Cong you bing), also known as Chinese scallion pancake, is a delicious savoury street snack that is easy to batch make and freeze.
Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Servings: 4 people
Author: Zen

Equipment

  • Large heat-proof mixing bowl If you used a metal bowl, remember that it will get very hot after the boiling water is poured in, so don't rest it on your bare legs!
  • Wooden chopsticks
  • Rolling Pin
  • Silpat Optional
  • Pastry brush or spoon
  • Large non-stick pan or skillet
  • Wooden or heat-proof spatula
  • Paper towels
  • parchment paper

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 4 Cups Chinese all-purpose flour (575g) Substitute: regular all-purpose flour or regular all-purpose flour mixed with cake flour (do not use 100% cake flour as an alternative)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Cup boiling water (237g)
  • ½ Cup + 1 tablespoon room temperature water (132g) It's OK if your room temperature water is cold.

Pancake: for the filling

  • 1-1½ Cups sliced spring onions Either use only the thinner green part (traditional) or, if you hate waste, cut the thicker white base into half before slicing (if not the pancake may burst the seams so to speak)
  • ½ Cup Chinese all-purpose flour Substitute: regular all-purpose flour, cake flour or a mix of both
  • ½ Cup pork lard Substitute: shallot oil, neutral vegetable oil or butter
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • Ground sichuan peppercorn or 5 spice powder, optional

For the dipping sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar Substitute: Chinkiang vinegar
  • white sugar, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, optional
  • Sliced spring onions, optional For visual effect
  • Dry toasted sesame seeds, optional For visual effect

Instructions

To make the green onion pancake dough

  • Mix the flour and salt, then make a hole in the middle and pour the hot water in.
  • Leave for a few minutes, then pour the room temperature/ cold water in.
  • Use a pair of wooden chopsticks or fork to mix the dough together- at this stage it will be clumpy and sticky.
  • Once the dough is cool enough to handle, use your hands to knead it for about 5 minutes. You know it's done once it's smooth and stops sticking.
  • Alternatively, you can process the dough in a mixer using a dough hook till it forms a nice smooth ball. (Use a medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.)
  • Either way, once the dough is done, roll into a ball and cover the bowl with a tea towel to prevent the dough from drying out.

To make the spring onion filling

  • Use the dough's resting time to make the filling. Slice the spring onions finely- if adding the white part to the mix, make sure you first cut it in half lengthwise or the bits will be very thick. Put the spring onions in a heatproof bowl
  • Heat the oil/ lard/ butter then carefully pour it over the spring onions (it may sizzle/ splatter if the spring onions are wet), add the flour, salt and Sichuan pepper/ 5-spice powder (if using) then mix well

To roll the pancakes

  • Divide the rested dough into 6 equal pieces (To make sure the pieces are the same size, roll the entire ball into a log, then cut into 6 equal pieces- some people weigh each piece but I figure that's overkill)
  • Take out 1 piece and place on Silpat/ a floured or oiled surface. (Keep the other 5 pieces covered with a tea towel whilst working on this piece)
  • Using a floured/ oiled rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin rectangular piece. It's hard to make a nice rectangle so don't worry if your shape is wonky (having a rectangular piece gives you more equal, thin layers but isn't a must for the recipe to work) Pay attention to the edges of the dough as those tend to be thicker than the middle after rolling.
  • Tip: I like to flip the dough after every 1-2 roll, to make sure it doesn't stick to the surface.
  • Once you've rolled the dough as thinly as possible without breaking, brush on about 2 tablespoons of filling using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Make sure to leave a 1 cm clear border around the filling (so that the filling doesn't ooze out later)
  • Roll the brushed dough into a long log (see photos in post if this doesn't make sense) then pick up 1 end in 1 hand and gently tap the log on the surface, whilst simultaneously gently pulling the log. (This helps to stretch and relax the dough further, to make the layers even thinner.)
  • Pinch the ends together so that the spring onions stay inside, then coil the log into a pinwheel (like a seashell/ snail shell shape) and cover with a tea towel.
  • Repeat the process with the other 5 balls of dough.
  • The coiled pancakes need to rest before they can be further flattened/ rolled, so make sure you work in the same order that you filled them (as the first coiled pieces have had more time to rest.)
  • Place the pinwheel on the Silpat/ floured or oiled surface then use the back of your hand or the rolling pin to gently press it in to a flattened disc. Repeat the process for all the 6 pinwheels.

Frying the scallion pancake

  • Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the frying pan and heat on medium high heat. (You can use more or less if you wish- less oil is healthier but more is tastier.)
  • When the oil is hot, gently place 1 pancake on the pan. (Lay it down in the direction away from you to avoid the hot oil splashing on you.)
  • Gently nudge it with the spatula to make sure it hasn't stuck to the pan then cover with the lid for 1 minute.
  • Uncover, flip the pancake, and cook covered for another minute.
  • Remove the cover, flip the pancake, press it down to make sure it browns evenly and continued cooking (uncovered) for another 3-4 minutes. You may want to flip the pancake 1-2x to make sure both surfaces brown evenly. The pancake will be nice and golden brown when cooked. Before removing from the pan, give each pancake a squeeze in between 2 spatulas to help loosen up the interior layers and make them more flaky.
  • Place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil then repeat with the rest of the pancakes. 1-1.5 pancakes per person is usually enough, so if you don't need that many, wrap the remaining pieces individually with plastic wrap or parchment paper then refrigerate/ freeze.

To make the dipping sauce

  • Add all the ingredients together and stir well.

To serve

  • You can have the pancakes as a central dish or serve 1 pancake to each person. If placing them in the centre, you may want to cut them into smaller pieces (like we do with a pizza) to make them easier to serve.

Notes

Note: serving size is based on the assumption that everyone eats 1.5 pancakes. (This recipe makes 6 pancakes, and 1 is pretty filling already!)
Shortcut: if you're pressed for time, instead of making the filling and dough separately, simply mix the spring onions into the dough then make the pancakes as per the instructions above, making sure to brush the dough with the lard/ oil before rolling into a log.
If you have leftover dipping sauce, it can be stored for 1-2 days in the fridge.
See post for how to store and freeze these savoury Asian crepes.