Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Green Onion Cakes

One night back in the summer, I got into a conversation about favourite festival food. My favourites all changed after going vegan. No more pizza, mini doughnuts and corn dogs. None of that for me anymore. Now I tend to gravitate towards cotton candy, snow cones and green onion cakes. When I mentioned green onion cakes the response back was, "What is a green onion cake". I think my mouth dropped. Here in Edmonton, these tasty little snacks show up at every festival and are on almost all menu of any restaurant serving up anything Asian. My first thought was that he had to have another name for them... There is no way these are not served in the US. I described them as best I could and it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to let him see them and try them. I'm really hopeful that these have made it into the US, maybe just not where he lives... I did a little googling to see if these were on some list of random awesome food that isn't popular there. Luckily it seems to be just him and I will be putting an end to this one soon.

Key Ingredient

Green Onion Cakes (Cong you bing or scallion pancake) are a Chinese street food. Very similar recipes are found in Korea, Vietnam, Japan and India. Sadly here in Edmonton, this type of street food only seems to show up in the summer time, but much better than not at all. They are also in lots of restaurants, so even though they leave the food carts, we can get them all year. They are generally served on their own, or with a dip (soy sauce, chili sauce, plum sauce, sweet chili sauce etc) Every place is a little different. When I make these at home, I tend to just put a little soy sauce on them. Mostly because I am lazy and have a slight salt obsession. I personally think it's the bast way to serve them.

I never bothered making these before because I assumed they were deep fried and I am a little scared of deep frying. My sister tipped me off to the fact that not only are these insanely easy and cheap to make, but they are pretty handy to have around for an easy way to kill a salt craving.

All of the recipes I found were fairly similar. This is the one my sister gave me:

Green Onion Cakes
*Makes 14-16, takes about 90 minutes, most of it inactive

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 bunch of scallions (green onions), chopped thinly
  • salt and pepper (about 2 tbsp of each handy)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Peanut Oil for frying
Put the flour into a large bowl. Now boil the water. I tend to use a little more than 1/4 cup because some of the water boils away on me. As soon as the water is boiling, pour it into the bowl of flour. Stir it well with a fork until it is crumbly. Now use your hands and kneed the dough until it comes together into a ball (If you are like me, this will hurt. the dough will be hot and could burn your hands a little bit. Don't say I didn't warn you. I know this from experience!)
This is what the dough looks like before kneading 

And.. after needing. At this point you let it rest in the fridge

While you wait, set up your assembly. Chop the green onions,
and get the oil, brush and salt and pepper ready

Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. When the dough is ready, set up a station to get the pancakes ready. Chop the green onion and have it available in a small bowl, have the salt and pepper hand and another bowl with the veg oil in it. I use a brush to get the oil even on the pancakes.

Separate the dough into 14-16 pieces. Take the first on and roll the dough into a ball. Now roll it out as thin as possible (about 1/4 inch thick). I bought my first rolling pin for this. In the past I have always used cans because I am kind of cheap, limited on space and really cans do a decent job. My $2 wooden rolling pin did not do a great job on this. The dough was sticking like glue. I ended up wrapping my rolling pin with plastic wrap and it helped a lot. Hopefully this doesn't happen to you!

Roll the dough out, brush with oil and sprinkle the green onion,
 salt and pepper.

Roll it up like a cigar and bring the two ends together.
Kind of looks like a doughnut

OK, back to recipe. Once you have it rolled out, brush the dough with a bit of oil, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper and add about 1-2 tsp of green onions. Next, take the edge of the dough and roll it up so it looks like a cigar. Take the two ends and press them together, so it forms a circle again. Lastly flatten out the dough again to make the pancake. Should be about 1" thick.

Repeat these steps for the remaining batter. If you are not making all of them at once, wrap the pre-made pancakes in foil and you can freeze them for up to a couple months.

To cook:
Heat peanut oil on high heat in a frying pan. You want enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, but not deep fry. Add the green onion cakes and cook about 2-3 minutes. Watch them closely because they go from perfect to burnt fast. Once they are golden brown, flip them and cook the other side 1-2 minutes. Get them out of the pan and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Put a second paper towel on top and press lightly to get the excess oil off.

That's it - Serve with any of your favourite dipping sauce.

Finished product. Yumm..

It does take a while start to finish, but really only about 15-20 min of work. It is so great being able to keep these on hand in the freezer. They make an excellent salty snack and once you have them assembled, you can have them ready to eat in just a few minutes. So nice I can have these at home anytime I want now. The only tricky part for me is only eating one or two. Something about these makes me want to binge.. they're like potato chips that way.


  1. These sound delicious!! I'm bookmarking these for later to make.

  2. Ah, I love scallion pancakes! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    I also love your yellow plate-- is the design on it a flower?

    1. Thanks! Yes, the plate is a floral design. I bought them at the Tin Box, which is a store in Edmonton.

  3. Yep, they're ubiquitous in the U.S., and generally called scallion pancakes. They rule! I make them in big batches and freeze a bunch like you do, too -- it is the best thing ever to find in the back of your freezer!

  4. I am so glad to hear that they are in the US... so far I have not found them in Minneapolis, but since making them is so easy, might as well just make my own!

    It is a good day when I find them in the back of the freezer :)