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Saveur Onion Pancake Recipe

(Note: This thread was split from the Home Cooking Dish of the Month discussion. -- The Chowhound Team )

I am reposting this here because it was deleted from the nomination thread. I forgot to state I rephrased the recipe, which I did. So here is the recipe we talked about for Thin Onion Pancakes:

Here is Martin Yan's recipe for Scallion Pancakes as set out (but rephrased) in this month's Saveur magazine on page 18:


4 c. flour, plus more
1 T. baking powder
1 T. kosher salt
1/3 c. canola oil
2 T. toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced scallions
1 T. crushed red chile flakes
1/2 t. ground white pepper

Process 1/2 the flour and all the baking soda in a food processor. With motor running, add 2/3 c. cold water, process until dough forms, about 40 seconds. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add remaining 2 c. flour and all the salt to a food processor and with motor running add 2/3 c. boiling water. Process until dough forms, about 30 seconds.

Return reserved dough to food processor, pulse until both doughs come together, about 35 seconds.

Transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Kneed until smooth, about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a greased bowl. Cover and let sit at room temp for 2 hrs.


1/2 the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll 1 dough into a 10" x 20" rectangle. Brush with 1 T. canola oil and 1/2 the sesame oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 the scallions, 1/2 the chile flakes and 1/2 the white pepper.

Beginning with one long side, tightly roll like you would a jelly roll.

Cut roll crosswise into 3 pieces.

Slightly stretch each piece and starting from one edge, coil piece horizontally, tucking the end underneath. Using your hand, gently flatten coil into a dish; using rolling pin, flatten into a 5" circle.

Repeat, using your other 3 pieces, then do the same with the other 1/2 of the dough.

Let pancakes sit for about 10 minutes before cooking.

Heat 2 t. canola oil in a 10" skillet. Cook the pancake, swirling skillet and turning once, until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a baking sheet, place in a 200 degree oven to keep. When ready to serve, cut into wedges and serve with a dipping sauce. I serve mine with a sauce made of soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili oil, and pickled ginger.

Another recipe is posted online, but it appears to be a totally different one. It shows them being made step by step so it may be of some use to you:

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  1. My daughter and I will be making these this weekend so I will report back with how they come out.

    1. I was pretty happy with these: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/04/th... But they didn't have anything on some of what I was lucky enough to eat in China.

      I love and subscribe to Saveur, and I might give this recipe a shot, but my money is on Serious Eat's being better. I like that Saveur includes recipes, but for me they're often too short on detail for as exotic as they can be, and when I'm actually familiar with the cuisine (Scandinavian, SE Asian) I often find myself scratching my head wondering what they're doing, further eroding faith.

      2 Replies
      1. re: adamj880

        I haven't made the Saveur version, but when Kenji at Serious Eats posted his cheese version I thought that it was a novelty I could get behind, and made that version. http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/04/sc...
        And, since everything is an experiment to me, I made the first batch as described, with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella. It was one of the flakiest scallion pancakes I'd ever tasted, and not overtly cheesy, at least with the mix I used. I made a second round with sesame and neutral oil in lieu of the cheese. This batch was much less flaky--good enough, but paled in comparison to the cheese batch. I attributed this to the solidness of the grated cheese creating mini-pockets, so I tried a third experiment with grated, frozen butter to try to replicate these pockets. I had high hopes for the butter version, but it was sort of soggy and refused to crisp up like the previous two versions, and wasn't that much more flaky than the oil version. I ran out of dough before I could try a grated solid animal fat version, but so far the winner in my book was the cheese (and I went in expecting to like something more traditional.

        1. re: ...tm...

          Barbara Tropp had a dual temperature dough for scallion pancakes, so I don't think it's a recent innovation.

      2. How is that 'userealbutter' recipe totally different. Seems that there's the same basic idea - make flat disks of dough, sprinkle the onions, form into a coil, flatten, ... This one has the more complicated step of making 2 doughs, though it isn't obvious what that contributes.

        If you want a totally different scallion pancake, look for ones that start with a batter, and are cooked crepe like. It's easiest to find the Korean version, but I have a Chinese cookbook with it as well (the big yellow Encyclopedia volume). http://koreanfood.about.com/od/vegeta...

        Come to think of it, I'd prefer to call this rolled, folded, and rolled version a scallion pastry. It may be flat and round like a pancake, but the preparation is quite different.

        4 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Hi Paulj.

          I posted this in the DOTM nomination thread in response to another reader's request for the recipe. It was then moved by the Chowhound Team to its own thread (I guess we are not supposed to post recipes in the nomination/voting threads as they make the threads too long). That is why there are two recipes posted and no real question included in heading. Right now, savory pancakes are one of the contenders for the October 2012 DOTM discussion. If it doesn't win, someone may start a Savory Pancake Discussion Thread down the line.

          1. re: dkennedy

            My daughter, (age 11), and I made these thin onion pancakes for dinner last night. The recipe was super easy to execute but the result was nothing like what I get at my local restaurant. Ours were far less flavorful and not as oil laden as the ones we are used to. We made 3 pancakes, with each batch I tried to increase the amount of oil to try to get that restaurant result, but no luck. I was able to get them pretty thin. Maybe next time I will try seasoning the flour mixture more heavily? Any advice would be appreciated. Pictures to follow shortly.

            1. re: dkennedy

              Ming Tsai has a recipe on foodnetwork.com that I have made with great success. His version uses hot water instead of cold, but the amount of oil seems about the same. Perhaps worth a try as a comparison?

              1. re: smtucker

                Agree. I haven't made the Ming Tsai recipe, but a friend of mine made some and they were delicious.

        2. I really liked these from Food52 better than Saveur's. I have used sesame oil and bacon grease as well as lard, and we liked bacon grease the best. I know, not traditiona - but delicious, flaky dough. I have not tried Kenji's yet - will give them a try.


          1. Has anyone tried subbing the white flour for a soy or rice flour?

            We also like to add black sesame seeds to the dough, use ramps or standard large leeks sliced into thin rounds instead of scallions when available but my favorite onion pancake is uses thin round slices of radish.

            20 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              Hi HillJ,

              Your pancakes sound wonderful.So, do you have any tips about how to get them to come out flaky? Do roll yours up the way they do in the recipe above and just sub out the green onions for radishes?

              1. re: dkennedy

                My teacher taught me this method: Prepare the dough and then chill it for two hours. Cut the round of dough into individual portions and roll those into circles. Then cover with a slight damp paper towel and chill the individual spheres while the oil heats up. Once thr therm. readd 375, we'd float no more than two circles at a time in about 3 inches of peanut oil (large wok) until golden. They puff up like mad. Golden & crisy. Then onto brown paper to drain while we prepared the sauces.

                1. re: HillJ

                  HillJ, which sauces do you use with the pancakes?

                  It would be nice to start a "savory pancakes" thread since it did not get selected for DOTM and in my COTM experience, many things do not come back for nominations. Is anyone interested?

                  1. re: herby

                    I would love to see a Savory Pancake thread take off. I was waiting to mention it to see if it came back in next months nomination process and also because I didn't want to be perceived as a bad loser. I really didn't mean for this recipe to create a thread, but now I will know not to post recipes during the nomination process. When it was in the running, I started pulling savory pancake recipes, so I am well armed. What does everyone think? Post now or wait?

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      Go for it, dk! I see no reason to wait for any of the ideas that were nominated but didn't make the cut. DaveMP described what DOTM was about and how it differs from HC threads. Give the people what they want (to eat) is what CH is all about. Right now there are threads about cooking from a specific cookbook that fall outside the COTM digest.

                    2. re: herby

                      herby, if you start a savory pancake thread I join in. dk and I both have been ready for one!

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I am a super newbie in the savory pancake department and do not feel qualified to start the thread. Why won't you start, HillJ? I will contribute the only one I know how to make - a Russian yeasty crepe-like cake with meat filling:) Going to make it for my six-YO grandboy on the weekend.

                      2. re: herby

                        We made a soy sauce & sesame paste, a tofu sauce, a hot chili sauce and put out extra black and white sesame seeds for people who like a nice crunch on top (like I do!).

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Wonderful sounding sauces, HillJ - we need a thread to have all these resources in one spot:)

                      3. re: HillJ

                        HillJ, thank you for those instructions. I was cooking them in a a flat saute pan in far less oil so maybe that was my problem. I am going to try your method and report back.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            A bit more time, Method 2: NO OIL

                            Prepare your pancake dough, cut into portions, roll into rounds and place each round btwn parchment paper. Freeze for 30 mins. Place a large frying pan on the burner and get it nice and hot. NO OIL. Place a frozen pancake on the hot pan and let it get golden crispy, turn and brown the other side. Keep going through your batch of frozen pancakes. Again, the cold on hot method will puff that pancake nicely creating that flaky layer we all look for. But this time NO oil, no fuss.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              I'll try one of these two methods today or tomorrow and report back. I will also try to start a savory pancake thread in the next day or two and link it here. If someone else beats me to it, all the better!

                              1. re: dkennedy

                                Thank you, DK, for starting the thread! I will definitely participate if not right away then soon - have some family committments for the first part of October.

                                1. re: herby

                                  herby, because dk proposed it originally I didn't want to overstep by starting a thread about savory pancakes and sauces and we were all still waiting to see what the voting thread for October would bring.

                                  Once dk has the thread set, I'll be there and I look forward to learning more about the Russian yeasty crepe-like cake with meat filling you describe. Last week I made a buckwheat crepe with lamb (French) and very delicious.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                Method 3: better dry ingredients

                                Sub a combination of Wondra & potato starch in the amounts called for in the recipe for the white flour.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Another flavor enhancer, wasabi powder added to the dry ingredients.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    I have another batch of TOPs ready for tonight. I added a bit more s and p to this batch and also some aleppo pepper and more sesame oil. I am freezing the patties and plan to fry them in 3 inches of oil in my wok tonight. Wish me luck! Will be serving it alongside Anita Lo's Brisket Noodle Soup with Korean Chile (out of the Brisket Book). Will report back.

                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                      Something tells me you don't need luck..but, I'll be reading along!