created at: 2013-12-19
Last week, in an effort to justify preparing your own Chinese food at home on Christmas, I shared a family friend’s recipe for wontons. This week, I’ve got a recipe from a restaurant chef—and one of the best. Here, Joanne Chang, the friendly face behind Flour bakeries and Myers + Chang in the South End, tips the scales in favor of cooking at home with her recipe for scallion pancakes.

I’d seen this recipe floating around the Internet, but I’d never prepared it myself. I was intimidated by the work it would take to result in the crispy, flaky layers that are the hallmark of a scallion pancake. I told myself that the time required to make one—mixing and laminating the dough, allowing it to rest—just wasn’t worth it, especially when I could get a perfectly acceptable version from the nearest takeout place for just a few dollars.

But this recipe is a bit different from the traditional version. Instead of making your own dough, it calls for store-bought pizza dough. (You can certainly prepare your own, if you’re so inclined; Chang uses the dough from Flour when she serves these up at Myers + Chang.) All it requires is a bit of rolling and resting, and a quick fry. The result is a pancake with a crisp crust and fluffy interior, with lots of surface area to douse in the dipping sauce. And preparing it might be even easier than picking up takeout.

Joanne Chang’s Scallion Pancakes

Makes 3 large pancakes

For Scallion Pancakes
1 bunch (8 to 9) scallions, washed and minced
¼ cup sesame oil
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1-pound store-bought pizza dough
All-purpose flour, as needed
1½ cups vegetable oil, for frying

For Soy Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon Sriracha chili paste
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 scallion, washed, trimmed and minced

1. FOR SCALLION PANCAKES: In a small bowl, mix the minced scallions with sesame oil and the salt. Cut pizza dough in thirds.

2. On a well-floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a thin 10×5-inch rectangle.

3. Spread the scallion mixture over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border all around the edge. Starting at a long side, roll up each piece of dough jelly-roll style (long side to long side) and pinch to seal, creating a 10-inch snake. Coil each roll of dough into a circle and tuck the end under the coil.

4. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about 2 hours to allow the dough to proof and relax. (At this point pancakes may be stored in an airtight container overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, you may store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a week. Remove from freezer and let defrost in the fridge overnight before using.)

5. FOR DIPPING SAUCE: Place all ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Sauce may be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

6. Generously flour a work surface. Press dough round into a flat circle, deflating any pockets and squishing the scallions gently into the dough. With a rolling pin, slowly and carefully roll out each dough coil into a 10-inch round. It’s easier if you start in the center and roll outward. Flour the dough and work surface as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. (It’s okay if some of the scallion mixture comes out.)

7. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the oil and when it sizzles it’s ready to go. Fry one pancake at a time over medium-high heat, turning once, until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Poke holes to deflate any air pockets that form while cooking. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle a pinch of salt onto each pancake as soon as it comes out of the pan. Cut the scallion pancakes into sixths and serve with the soy dipping sauce.