I’m a fan of dim sum. It offers a myriad of flavors, textures and cooking styles that somehow all find a way to work with hot sauce. There’s also plenty of less-than-healthy options which, I can freely admit, delight my indulgent side.
Other than being disc-shaped, green onion pancakes don’t resemble the pancakes of my youth at all. They are crispy on the outside and their inside is flaky and pleasantly doughy. The pancakes are often filled with chunks of green onion which takes the tastes right off the breakfast table and onto lunch or dinner. They are a pleasure to eat with your hands – you gently tear chunks of the flesh and different layers of the dough roughly separate from one another.
I have been making green onion pancakes for the last few years using this recipe from Momofuku for Two. Their recipe (and instructions) are fantastic and easy to follow. If you’re looking for a traditional take on this dish, check out their post.
My recipe varies significantly from tradition;
- Since its early winter, green onions are long gone from around here. They were replaced with leeks and finely chopped onions.
- Since I changed the main ingredient, I decided nothing was sacred. I also added fermented hot peppers (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately!). You could replace them with pickled, fresh, dried or omit the peppers altogether.
- I replaced some of the water with buttermilk; not a typical ingredient of Eastern cooking but something I had in the fridge (leftover from making biscuits)
- My technique was considerably different – I used our pasta machine (without the cutting attachment) to roll the dough incredibly thin. This was an awesome decision.
While I’ll explain the details on how to make this in the recipe, a high-level overview may make this simpler to follow:
- Make your dough, let it rise.
- Roll it as thin as possible (I had an 6-inch wide, 10-foot long sheet of dough)
- Cut dough into strips (mine were about 12-14 inches long and 6-inches wide)
- Brush a thin coat of oil onto the dough (this keeps the layers flaky)
- Spread a thin layer of filling onto the dough.
- Roll the dough into long tubes.
- Roll the tubes into discs (like cinnamon rolls).
- Squish the discs flat.
Making and rolling the dough is the most time consuming part of the process.
INGREDIENTS (makes 12 and the uncooked portions will freeze well)
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 0.5 cups buttermilk
- 0.5 cups water (separated into two halves)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 tablespoons oil (I used almond oil) for brushing on the sheets of dough
- 1-2 tablespoons of oil or fat for frying (I used suet/ tallow that was fantastic; duck fat would also be lovely)
- Stuffing – we used two finely chopped leeks, 1 finely chopped onion and 1.5 tablespoons of chopped fermented jalapeno (about 0.75 cups in total)
- Bring buttermilk and 0.25 cups of water to a boil; some solids will separate (and that’s ok; you’ll use it all).
- As the liquid begins to heat up, mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Scatter the boiling water across the flour. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to stir and incorporate. Mix until it won’t mix any further (your dough will look like a cross between fine flour and pebbly sand at this point).
- Add the remaining cold water to the dough to help cool it. Stir to incorporate.
- Form the dough into a ball. You may need add a scant (tiny, tiny) amount of water to help this process. Add as little as possible but enough to help the ball form.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is stretchy (if you are using a rolling-pin you will need to knead it more than those using a pasta machine; the dough is passed through the machine many times which helps incorporate it further).
- Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for an hour (it won’t raise much but gluten will develop).
- Roll it into thin strips. If you’re using a rolling-pin, you’ll need to cut it as you go. If you’re using a pasta machine do the following:
- Flatten the dough into a strip that will fit into the pasta machine at its widest setting.
- Feed the dough through (it will likely be fragile, ‘holey’ and rip at first).
- Fold the dough onto itself 2-4 times (so that you can handle it), process it through the machine. Repeat this process until the dough is consistent and gains strength (it should stretch without ripping). Keep folding and flattening it.
- Decrease the width of the rollers by one step. Roll the dough, fold it on itself and repeat several times.
- Repeat the step above until the dough is as thin as possible without being fragile (this is a judgement call). You will now have a very long, thin sheet of dough.
- Cut the dough into strips.
- Brush each strip with a thin layer of oil.
- Scatter a thin layer of your stuffing (onion-leek-pepper mixture).
- Roll into long tubes (10-12 inches long). The tighter the rolls, the flakier your pancakes will be.
- Roll each tube up (it will look like a sloppy cinnamon bun), squish flat with the palm of your hand. You’ll likely need to squish the middle with your fingers to make the pancake a more uniform thickness.
- Repeat until complete.
- Heat oil in a pan to near smoking, add pancakes and reduce heat to medium-high. Slowly fry the pancakes until golden brown and cooked throughout (10-15 minutes).
They are a considerable amount of work but they freeze well and are a lot of fun/ rewarding to make.
What would you stuff yours with?