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scallion pancakes - crispy outside?

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I've been playing around with making Chinese scallion pancakes; I've had some success, but I'm wondering how to get the outsides crispy. Mine are tender all the way through, whereas the ones I've had in restaurants often have a crispy outer layer but a tender interior.

The recipe I use calls for 3 cups of AP flour, 1 cup of boiling water, and 1/3 cup of cold water; the technique is basically like this one: http://userealbutter.com/2008/04/30/c...

Any tips on getting the outside crispy? Is it mostly a matter of the frying? Temperature? Amount of oil?

Thanks!

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  1. Well, of course you need enough heat. Heat the pan first, and when it's quite hot add the oil. Shouldn't take much, just a nice film. It should be fragrant but not smoking, and the pancake should start smelling good right away. I haven't made these from scratch, since I live in the L.A. area and all the Asian markets have them in packages for cheap, but I like to keep them around for lunches and snacks. I use an iron griddle, and just brush some oil on.

    1. I make them often, and mine always get nice and browned and crispy on the outside. I fry them in a mixture of vegetable oil and a bit of butter (because I like the flavour). As Will says, I think perhaps you don't have the temperature quite high enough. Mine end up looking like the ones in the site you reference - just slightly browned.

      Also, some of the restaurants in my area deep-fry their green onion cakes. I'm not a fan of that, but perhaps that's more what you're looking for.

      1. A tip from a friend's Chinese wife: stretch and fold, stretch and fold the dough many times to give them a croissant-like inner texture. Best I ever had.

        1. Pan fry. Use as little oil as possible. And get your pan smoking hot -- hot like "Africa hot". Fry until just golden-brown.

          1. You definitly need a good bit of oil and a med hot pan. Sounds like Will and MrsCris have it right!

            1 Reply
            1. re: chefj

              you also might try using a different flour with less protein and add some rice flour.

            2. It sounds like higher heat is the key; I'll try cranking it up. Thanks for the advice!

              1. In the restaurant, we store the balls of dough in oil (can do it overnight), and roll out to order. We cook them on a griddle (Japanese Teppan-Yaki) at no more than 400 but closer to 350 and they come out very crispy on the outside yet moist and tender on the (thin) inside.

                1. Agreed with everyone else, higher heat -- though I don't go too hot because I find the outside gets crisp before the inside cooks properly.

                  And I just wanted to share my mom's secret ingredient that made her scallion pancakes taste so much better than anything I've had since -- bacon fat. Instead of using a vegetable oil on the dough before rolling, she would spread a layer of bacon fat. Then she would fry the pancakes in bacon fat. And good lord, were they ever good...

                  Another shortcoming I find in a lot of other versions is simply not enough salt. Of course, with bacon fat, that issue tends to go away. :)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    MMmmm, bacon fat. It's also good w/ bacon in it.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Mmmm, gilding the lily! I'll have to try that, thank you! I have serious cravings now.