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Recipe: Scallion Pancakes

These thin, savory crepes are bursting with springy flavor.

Scallion pancakes was one of the recipes I discovered halfway through the summer last year, and ever since I have been itching to make them. Because, although you can purchase "spring" onions all year round, they're so much better when fresh: plenty of crunch with only a mildly oniony flavor. I used some from my garden in this recipe: every year I let one or two grow through the season and go to seed, and the next spring the new seedlings are growing before anything else.

These pancakes are a great way to start working with dough if you haven't done much baking, since it's a simple flour-water mixture that gets rolled and turned three times to create the thin, flaky layers that are the dish's signature.

Let's get started.  You'll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced scallions (green parts only; reserve whites for )
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

First put the flour in the bowl of a food processor with the dough attachment.  (I used half whole wheat, but I wouldn't do this unless you're grinding your own; store-bought wheat flour is too heavy and wouldn't produce the desired texture.)  Drizzle in boiling water as the machine runs; listen for the thumping and watch for the dough to come together into a big ball.  If it doesn't, add a tiny bit more water at a time until the magic happens.

You can also just put the flour in the bowl and drizzle in the water as you stir; it'll just take longer.  When it's in a ball, knead it for a minute or so, until it's smooth and elastic.  Then cover and let it stand at room temperature for half an hour or so.  (I leave mine right in the food processor's bowl.)

While the dough rests, prep the other ingredients: thinly slice the scallions until you have 2 cups plus a small handful of green tops only.  (The whites are more like regular onions, so save them for a different recipe!)  Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and cayenne with the handful of thinly-sliced tops: this is the dipping sauce, so taste it and adjust the seasonings until you're happy with it.

Divide dough into 6 pieces. (The original said four, but my skillet was too small, so I made more smaller pancakes.)

Here's the only slightly-tricky part, and if you follow my photograph, you'll be fine. Flatten one ball into a circle about 6 inches in diameter.  Drizzle or brush with sesame oil.  Roll the circle into a tube and coil the tube into a spiral, like a snail shell.  Flatten that disc into another 6-inch circle, brush with oil and sprinkle with a handful of sliced scallions.  Repeat the process of rolling, spiraling and flattening, and you'll see the thin layers of dough forming around the green scallion bits.  It's very cool!

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a small cast-iron skillet ( is my choice) and carefully slide in one pancake.  Cook until edges are toasty brown, flip, and repeat on the other side.  Sprinkle with salt and drain on paper napkins ( for this purpose) Cut into wedges and serve with the dipping sauce.

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