Dearest readers, I've been feeling really homesick for some of my beloved grandma's 奶奶 wonderful cooking and was ever so pleased when I discovered this recipe in one of my favorite Chinese cookbooks, The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo, an absolute treasure trove of authentic Chinese recipes first published in 1977. I was casually flipping through this book the other day and reading here and there and suddenly I realized that this was it! This was the recipe for my grandma's delicious after school pancakes!! I had never quite been able to recreate it and couldn't find a recipe through research, probably because it's such a humble homey kind of food that no one ever thought to put it in a book. Well, no one except the talented and very smart Ms. Kuo, that is.
Let me just say, y'all in for a treat! My grandma's humble little Chinese Spring Onion Egg Pancakes, 蔥油蛋餅, are super duper yummilicious! So easy to make (perfect for after school snacks or breakfast), just mix the simple batter, fold in the aromatic spring onions and ladle on to pan and minutes later you've got a hot golden savory pancake in hand, its aromatic folds wrapped around a lush half cooked eggy center that is the secret heart and soul of this Chinese pancake. Ohhh...the contrast of the soft spring onion infused pancake, the lusciously gooey yolk and the just firmed whites... what a delight to the eyes, tummy and heart! Home cooking at its humble best...gobble, gobble and my pancake's all gone and it's time for another one!
|Flour and salt
|Egg and water
Flour, salt, egg and water. Simple. Just mix it all up. My grandma used to eyeball everything into a bowl, using a pair of chopsticks to stir it into a batter. Easy peasy.
My grams actually made two versions of these pancakes, one savory as per this recipe and one sweet which is the same batter but without the salt and spring onions and with sugar. The sweet one was my favorite back then but that's just my sweet tooth talking cuz these savory ones rock the boat. The key is this unsung food hero, the spring onion, chopped to aromatic bits and mixed straight in with the batter. Spring onion makes everything taste better and turns this simple batter from plain jane to barbielicious!
Tip: Make sure and chop the spring onions thinly. If you chop too coarsely the spring onions will be thicker than the pancake, i.e. stick out of the batter, and will burn before the pancake is cooked.
I mixed the liquid and the dry separately before combining. Not how my grams did it though, she just threw everything into bowl and stirred.
The batter, mixed and ready to go. It should be runny rather than goopy. If goopy add spoonful of water at a time to adjust.
Break out your trusty and naturally non stick cast iron pan and ladle on the batter. Here's the reason for needing a runny batter. If the batter is goopy you can't make a large thin pancake cuz the batter will just goop up and cook pretty much where it hits the hot pan. If it's runny the batter will spread out once it hits the hot pan. Add in a quick lift and circular tilt of the pan to allow the batter to run into any empty spots and you've got a lovely circular thin pancake.
Your first pancakes will not be perfect. Delicious but perhaps not perfectly round. Mine definitely looked oddly shaped. After a bit of practice, however, you'll get the hang of the tilt and swerve of the pan and find yourself making perfectly round pancakes.
Once the bottom is lightly browned, the pancake is flipped and the other side is cooked.
When both sides are done, the pancake is removed from the pan. Add a drop of oil and crack an egg onto the middle of the pan. Lower the pancake onto the egg and press down with spatula just enough to break the egg. (I love this part!) Once the egg is just set lift up cleanly with a spatula, and flip over onto a plate. Fold in half with egg inside and cut in two and your Chinese pancake is ready to be gobbled!
Oh my oh my oh...watch that golden yolk slowly ooze out of your piping hot spring onion scented pancake! Now grab with both hands and enjoy the ride...grandma's Spring Onion Egg Pancake 蔥油蛋餅 is ready to satisfy both your tummy and your heart. Love to all grandmas and their delicious from the heart foods!
Grandma's Spring Onion Egg Pancakes Recipe 蔥油蛋餅
(makes 7 pancakes) (adapted from recipe in The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo)
Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 15 mins
6 1/2 inch cast iron pan (or non stick pan)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup spring onion, minced
Heat pan up until hot and then turn to low heat. Cast iron retains heat really well so it is always a good idea to preheat to hot and then turn down the heat.
Stir flour with salt. In separate bowl add water and one egg and beat til combined. Add egg water to flour 1/3 at a time, stirring each time until no more lumps. Add in spring onions and stir.
Add 1/2 tsp oil to pan and swirl so that surface completely oiled. Use a 3 inch ladle to scoop up batter and pour all at once into middle of the pan. Lift pan right away and use a circular tilting motion to allow the batter to flow and fill the whole surface of the pan. Place pan back on heat and let cook about a minute or until bottom is a light golden brown in spots. Flip and cook the other side. Remove from pan and set on a plate.
Add 1/2 tsp oil to middle of pan and crack an egg directly onto it. Sprinkle with salt. Place cooked pancake over the egg and use spatula to lightly press down until the egg yolk breaks. Let cook for 30 secs or until the egg is just set enough to be lifted. You can check if set by lifting one corner of pancake and having a look. Remove and flip over onto a plate immediately. Fold pancake over with egg inside and slice in half. Eat when hot and oozing yolk. Enjoy the grandma love!
Tip: Even better with a smidge of soy sauce or even some hot sauce!!
Tip: Leftover batter can be covered and keep in the fridge to use the next day.