A popular Taiwanese street-style scallion pancake that is ultra crispy and fall-apart flaky.
As opposed to the ubiquitous 蔥油餅 (Cong You Bing), these are known as 蔥抓餅 (Cong Zhua Bing), which conveys how easily you can pull apart its layers. These are the kinds of pancakes you’ll find sold by old ladies at street vendors that are tucked behind busy streets, in the alleyways. They are always warm, made fresh to order; sometimes it even takes an hour of wait. But after one bite, it becomes clear why the line always extends around the block.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
#1: Start with the Dough. The dough is a combination of only 3 ingredients: all-purpose flour, hot water, and salt. You won’t need a precise temperature measurement for the hot water — I usually go for a temperature where I could leave my finger in the water for around, but not more than, 2 seconds. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the salt first, and slowly stream in the water while mixing. I like to do this part with a long pair of chopsticks.
Once all the hot water is added, knead the dough in the bowl for just 2-3 minutes until the dough just comes together (do not over-knead!). While mixing, try to clean off some of the flour that originally got stuck to the inside of the bowl as well. The dough doesn’t have to be smooth at this stage; in fact, it will seem barely work-able. Brush the top of the dough with a little bit of vegetable oil (prevents drying) and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably over night.
#2: Make the Scallion Oil Paste. This oil paste is key to achieving all those flaky layers. The secret to an extra aromatic and flavorful oil paste is heating the oil. Heat up the oil until it is just shimmering, and quickly pour it into a heat-safe bowl onto your scallions and flour. Stir to form a smooth paste.
#3: Roll out the dough & Apply Oil Paste. Now comes the real fun part. Take your rested dough and divide into eight even portions. Take one portion and roughly roll it out into a thin rectangle. If you find that the dough is sticking to your work surface, brush a little bit of oil on the work surface. I generally aim for the thickness of a coin for the rolled out dough. You can always keep stretching the dough as you go. Once the dough is rolled out, apply anywhere between 2-3 tablespoons of the oil paste with a brush. If you are using anything that’s not a brush to spread, be very careful as the dough may tear.
Once you’ve evenly spread the oil paste, fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 1/3 up, and then fold the whole thing in half. At this point you should get a long rectangle. Stretch it by pulling gently on both ends against the work surface, kind of like stretching Biang Biang Noodles.
#4: Scallion Pasta. You thought I was joking when I mentioned Biang Biang Noodles? Now the step that will differentiate these scallion pancakes from most: cutting the dough into pasta-like strands. Generally, try to keep the cuts even but it does not have to be completely even.
#5: Re-form and Coil. Now, take each strand, untangle, and stack them on top of each other. You’ll want to do this relatively fast as it gets harder over time to untangle each strand without breaking them. It’s no issue if you break some strands though — just keep stacking them on top of one another! Once you’ve stacked all the untangled strands together, coil from one end to the other and tuck the final end beneath. Repeat steps 3-5 for the rest of the portions. Now your scallion pancakes are ready for cooking! See below for cooking instructions.