For us, weekdays are blending into weekends and sometimes it takes me a few seconds to even realize exactly what day it is. I have gone through almost an entire week being one day ahead, more than once. My husband and I both work from home and even with the liberty to work on my own schedule (sort of), in our family childcare, cooking, and chores still mostly fall on me because my husband's work schedule is much less flexible. Our entire week is a fast-paced, hectic blur and after the last kiddo falls asleep each night, we are both depleted. So we make an effort to make weekends feel like a true weekend, like how it used to be. We'll do something fun or take on something that may be more time consuming but a special treat - and one of those things are scallion pancakes, made from scratch.
Believe me, the effort is worthwhile. I can never go on a Keto diet because the stack of scallion pancakes in my fridge will derail me every time. When our 4-year-old looks at the dinner table then asks for "crunchy things" we know it's code for scallion pancakes. The ingredients are really simple and I'd certainly much prefer to make my own when I have the time to avoid the additives in store-bought ones. The recipe below is what I've stuck to over time. I'm a more intuitive cook and often go by instinct and past experience when I'm in the kitchen, and that is even more true when it comes to making something from flour and water. Take below as a starting point and make adjustments on the fly so it works for you. Trust your instincts!
Here are the ingredients:
- 4 cup of all purpose flour
- 2 cup of warm water - I prefer mine just warmer than room temperature. Your dough should be warm after you mix the flour and water together. The temperature of the water is debatable amongst homecooks but I don't find that it makes that big of a difference. I've made these with cold water as well and they came out fine. But warm water does makes the pancakes taste softer and less dense.
- Sea salt
- 2 bunches of green onions. Love scallions? Go bold and add more. It's your life.
- 1-1/2 cup of lard (traditional recipes calls for this and the taste will be superior), or use a mild flavored oil. I use light olive oil.
First, mix the flour, water, and half a cup of oil until they come together. Knead the dough until it is elastic and smooth. Add more water or flour according to how dry or wet the dough feels. Cover with a damp cloth and leave dough to rest for half an hour.
Make the scallion mixture by finely chopping the green onions. In a bowl, mix chopped green onions with the rest of the oil. Add salt to taste but scallion pancakes really should be savory enough for it to be flavorful and tasty. Set mixture aside and let the flavors meld.
After first rest, break dough into small balls, roll each one flat, generously sprinkle the scallion mixture on top then roll it up, coil into a small mountain then cover with a damp cloth and rest for another 30 minutes.
After that, take a rolling pin and smash each mountain straight down then roll it out trying your best to keep the rings you have just formed - these will form the layers inside when pan-frying. During this process, you'll curse at the scallions that rudely squish out of the pancakes, bemoan the oil that smear all over your counter and the jagged edges that makes the coveted perfect circular shape impossible but you must persist! The salty, unctuous scallion aroma and the fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside pancakes will be your reward. I keep my cool and just gather all the scallion bits and smash them back into my dough. My motto is: it doesn't have to be pretty when it's this tasty.
You can make a bunch and freeze them as well. Just add a layer of wax wrap or cling wrap in between and freeze them flat. When you're ready for a meal, simple carefully break off the number of pieces you'd like.
Finally, it's cooking time. We're getting to everyone's favorite - eating time. Add a drizzle of oil to a frying pan. Layer a pancake onto the pan and cook on medium heat until it's golden brown on the outside and the inside is cooked through. You should see some thin layers that formed inside created from the lard/fat you've mixed into the dough. If you do, success! If not, it's still good!
Scallion pancakes are amazing on their own - to me that's a perfect food. But sometimes in the morning I'll fry one up, take it out of the pan, crack an egg into the same hot pan, then plop the pancake back onto the sunny-side-up egg until the egg is cooked to my liking and enjoy this glorious thing with hot sauce. The kids will have to wait.
(Ok, they really can't but you know what I mean.)
The humble scallion pancake is my comfort food. It brings back memories of growing up in Taiwan and grabbing one in the morning, always tucked in a white paper bag, from a street cart on my way to school or after school while I walked home. I remember tearing off each satisfying hot, crunchy, fluffy bite after bite while taking my time to get to wherever I was going. Now that I'm thousands of miles away from where I grew up and in a worrisome pandemic, making and sharing comfort foods like these with my loved one help ease my anxiety. When times are so uncertain, food can be a source of solace and stability. I know it is for my family. Hope you're all taking care. Until next time.