Scallions-pork mince pancakes
These are scallion and pork pancakes and some restaurants call them 'Chinese pizzas'. Not as common as plain scallions pancakes (chung you bing meaning scallions/spring onions oil pancake), but very tasty too. I prefer the plain scallions pancakes and if that's what you like too, just leave the meat out.
Btw, scallions are the thicker green onions with white stems whereas spring onions are the more delicate ones with a purplish stem, grown from the purplish-red onions. Spring onions are favored over scallions in Chinese cooking because they are more delicate and have better flavor. But since 'scallions pancakes' is the more widely used term, that's what I'll use too.
The first scallions pancakes I ate were my Shanghainese MIL's. Her scallions pancakes were the old-fashioned type, flat and pan-fried instead of the puffed and deep-fried ones which seem more popular these days. Again, because of that first impression thing, I prefer my scallions pancakes the traditional way which gives a crispy outside, slightly soft inside whereas the deep-fried pancakes are very crisp and 'short'/crumbly. Delicious but extremely oily. MIL thinks that the restaurants make better scallions pancakes because they use lard which gives a heavenly flavor and taste besides making the pancake 'short'. Restaurants also use a generous sprinkle of msg. The key to a flaky and 'short' pancake is to add shortening (preferably lard) to the dough, smear a layer of oil on the pancake and--this ingenuous Chinese way of making flaky pastry--roll the pancake up swiss roll-style, then coil it. This method results in many layers of pastry separated by a thin layer of oil, much like how you make puff pastry, except this method is easier.
Scallions/Pork Mince Pancakes
250g plain flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
100 ml boiling water plus more
2 T lard or shortening (Crisco)*
1 cup thinly sliced spring onions/scallions or chinese chives
1 cup chopped pork, seasoned with salt n pepper (optional)
* You can omit this if you are health-conscious. The resulting pancake will not have a 'short' or crumbly texture. Instead it will be slightly chewy so you'd have to roll it out into real thin pancakes.
1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add all the boiling water at once. Use a fork to mix quickly. You may need to add 2 or more tablespoons of boiling water. The flour will form 'bouncy' lumps that look slightly traslucent. , Mix in the lard or shortening. Take the dough out and knead until a smooth and very soft dough is formed. Cover dough with a cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Plain scallions pancake. Here I've put too much onions on; the pancake'll burst when it is flattened.
Chinese chives-pork mince pancake
Chinese chives-pork mince pancake
2. Divide the dough into 4. Take 1 piece, cover the 3 other pieces with a teacloth. Slightly flour the working surface and a rolling pin and your hands. Roll the dough into a very thin circle. Splash some sesame oil on the circle of dough and smear evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of scallions all over evenly, then sprinkle with a good pinch of salt (and msg if like). Now roll up like a swiss roll, then coil it into a tight circle, pressing the end into the side of the circle.
The coiled pancake (bottom right) can be deep-fried or, more traditionally, flattened into a very thin pancake and pan-fried in a little bit of oil.
3. If you like, you can deep-fry the unflattened coiled circle which is what most restaurants are doing these days. If you want to pan-fry instead of deep-fry, then you should flatten your pancakes so that they can cook readily in little oil. Just flour the top of the coiled circle of dough and flatten it out with your rolling pin into a big thin circle without breaking the skin. Put about 2 T oil into a flat frying pan and fry the pancake on one side in medium heat until it is brown (about 3 min), then turn over and fry the other side. Repeat with remaining dough.
4. Pancakes are served hot, cut into wedges. You can serve them with a black vinegar-soy sauce dip if like.
note: the thinner the pancakes, the crispier they will be.