Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.
This week in the Edible Alphabet kitchen, I am trying out a recipe from former Edible Alphabet participant Yushan: Chinese Scallion Pancakes. The recipe recommends resting the dough overnight in the refrigerator, so it involves a little advance planning, but the flakey, crispy, chewy, oniony result is well worth the effort. I’m serving my scallion pancakes as part of a larger meal (featuring a few recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice), but they make a great snack on their own, dipped into soy sauce, black vinegar, and / or chili oil.
Philadelphia has a long and delicious history of Chinese and Chinese-American cuisine, dating back to the birth of our city’s Chinatown in 1870. To explore more about the culinary history of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, check out our Explore Topic Philadelphia Cooks! This Free Library webpage features links to popular Philadelphia food blogs and websites, cookbooks with recipes from Philadelphia chefs and restaurants, and books on the history of and present-day Philadelphia food scene. For information on how to support Philadelphia restaurants and local hospital clinicians affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis, visit Fuel the Fight Philadelphia (a partner of Frontline Foods and World Central Kitchen).
Chinese Scallion Pancakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 scallions
- 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil (+ additional oil for cooking)
- ½ tsp. white pepper
Preparing the Dough:
- Pour the boiling water, cold water, and salt in a cup. Measure and stir well until the salt is dissolved.
- Put flour into the big mixing bowl and pour in the water mixture. Use a fork to mix until the batter becomes flaky and then use your hands to knead the batter until it holds together. The dough might be a little sticky, but that’s fine.
- Leave the dough in the mixing bowl and cover with the damp cloth for about 20-30 minutes.
- Spread a little oil on the dough and gently knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth, cover with the damp cloth, and rest for another 30 minutes.
Preparing the Filling:
- While waiting for the dough to be ready, wash and dry the scallions. Divide the scallions white parts and green parts, cut the white parts into half, and then chop the white and green parts together, trying to chop them as thin as possible.
- Put the scallions, oil, and white pepper into a small mixing bowl. Use a spoon to mix well and set aside.
Preparing the Pancake:
- Spread oil on the working surface and the small rolling pin. Take out the dough and use a knife or a bench scraper to divide into 4 pieces.
- Take one piece, press it flat, and roll out into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp of the scallion stuffing mixture evenly on the dough, leaving 1/2” edge empty. Roll the dough into a long strand with the scallion mixture inside. Twist the strand and then arrange in a coil.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Put a bit of oil on the finished coil and wrap each coil with plastic wrap, store in the container, and set aside for 2-3 hours to relax the dough. (It’s much better to leave them in the refrigerator overnight to have a better texture.)
Cooking the Pancake:
- Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a pan on medium heat.
- Oil the working surface and rolling pin. Take one piece of dough and use your hand to flatten the dough. Then use the rolling pin to roll out the pancake to about 7-8” round.
- Place the flattened dough on the heated pan, cooking for 10 seconds, and use spatula to flip. Cover the lid and cook for 1 minute. Remove the lid and flip the pancake several times until it’s golden brown.
- Serve as it is or with some soy sauce or chili sauce.
For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!