A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

[Quick reminder: Don’t forget to go here and enter my contest to win chocolate or treats from my upcoming cookbook! You’ve got until January 30th to enter.]


Over the past couple of years, the HH and I have developed a fairly steadfast routine: every Tuesday at mid day, we connect for a hefty serving of afternoon delight. (No, no debauchery, silly! Forget the cheeesy song.  I’m talking about afternoon culinary delight).  To wit, food. To wit, Japanese food. To wit, Sushi. 

As our own unique twist on “date night,” we have “date lunch”:  at a little sushi bar near the HH’s place of employ, he feasts on various species of marine life (well, I suppose that would more properly be “marine after-life”), and I enjoy some of the best vegetarian sushi I’ve ever tasted.  While clacking chopsticks, slathering wasabi and dipping into soy sauce, he reports on his recent work projects, while I regale him with anecdotes about The Girls’ antics. We eat, we laugh, we fight over who gets the last piece of pickled ginger, and then we kiss goodbye and go about the rest of our day.  It’s a lovely interlude in an otherwise bland workday. 

Well, a few weeks ago at the habitual time and place, I was devastated to discover that the establishment had unceremoniously changed owners.  Oh, the new folks are nice enough, but the distinctive sheen of the place had definitely tarnished. (The new vegetarian option consists of 8 pieces of cucumber and avocado maki.  Now, how could they possibly think vegetarians want 8 identical pieces of a single variety, when the HH gets a full dozen varieties of raw, slimy oceanic tidbits on his plate?).  Haven’t these people heard of the expression, “If it ain’t broke. . .”?   Harrumph.

Being fairly close to Toronto’s Chinatown North, we opted that day to try one of the many Asian restaurants in the vicinity instead.  I assumed I’d have no trouble finding plenty to eat. 

Well, you know what they say about assumptions.  (No? It’s even too puerile to repeat here.  But there are plenty of others out there who’ll tell you.) I sat down feeling peckish. Perusing the menu, I quickly discovered there was precious little I could consume save steamed veggies and rice.  (Not that there’s anything wrong wtih steamed veggies and rice, you understand, but I get plenty of those at home–and certainly don’t feel like driving halfway across the city and dishing out restaurant prices for someone else to throw them on a plate for me). 

Yes, every single dish contained at least one ingredient I can’t eat. The few animal-free options all contained wheat (another no-no). Listed under “Vegetable Dishes,” we had Vegetables and Ground Beef; Vegetables and Pork Stir-Fry;  Egg Noodles with Vegetables; Chicken and Shrimp with Vegetables.  Even the “Vegetable Dumplings” contained ground pork.  Argh!  (And another “harrumph,” just for good measure. ) Would I have to sit there starving*, I wondered, while the HH gorged himself on beef, chicken, and pork-laden vegetables?

 And then, I noticed these:  Scallion Pancakes.  Simplicity itself, these pan-fried cakes studded with rings of shiny green onion were cut into four triangles, served with a variety of dipping sauces.  Humble, yet divine; my mouth began to water. And then, I realized:  they were made with wheat flour.  Which I am not supposed to eat. 

True, my wheat sensitivity induces heartburn, bloating, and sometimes an achy stomach a couple of hours after ingesting it.  True,  wheat encourages my inflamed sinuses to close up shop entirely, forcing me to pant through my mouth like a dog in July.  True, any sane person in my situation would have passed on the wheat. Also true?  I was hungry.  Those pancakes were the sole item on the menu that appealed to me. I ordered them.

And, by golly, I loved them! (Well, for about 10 minutes, after which a volcano erupted in my chest, my stomach inflated like a beach ball, and my nasal passages sealed up like a mine shaft collapsing). 

After reading about Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian several times on Lisa’s blog, I finally picked it up from the library a few weeks ago.  And wouldn’t you know–right there, tucked near the back of the book, was a recipe for Chinese Scallion Cakes!  I was elated.  Since the entire recipe contains only five ingredients (two of which are salt and pepper), I felt pretty certain I could adapt these with (Ricki-friendly) spelt flour instead of wheat.  I did, and guess what?  They replicated the restaurant variety almost perfectly. 

The HH and I were so smitten with the results that we polished off two pancakes just on their own, with no accompaniments.  The second time round, we used them as a base for leftover dal, and they were spectacular.  I’m not generally a fan of salty foods, but something about the combination of salt and browned green onion (or would that be green browned onion?) is heavenly. 

I toned down the fat content by simply brushing the raw pancakes with olive oil (instead of following the original directions for filling a frypan with the stuff, as if drawing a bubble bath or something).  The results worked out pretty well, I’d say, as I couldn’t tell the difference in taste.

These boasted a crisp and even somewhat flaky exterior, with chewy insides punctuated here and there by the partially caramelized green onion.  My only regret is not having coarse sea salt in the house to sprinkle on top, as it would have made for a more photogenic bread.  (You’re actually meant to sprinkle the salt into the batter, anyway–but I forgot, so scattered it on top once the bread was cooked).

I’ve copied the recipe exactly as written because the method is quite particular.  It appears long and complicated, but once you’ve made them once, you’ll see how easy it is to prepare these wonderful savory cakes at home. I’d even whip them up for a quick lunch–except not on the days I meet the HH, of course. 

(Oh, and I made these again this morning, in honor of Chinese New Year.  Happy New Year to all who celebrate on Monday! )

*Clearly, not literally. But in terms of gustatory satisfaction, for sure.


Last Year at this Time: Sweet Potato Fries, Three Ways (and Miso Gravy)

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


60 comments to Chinese Scallion Pancakes

  • Romina

    Oh my goodness, Ricki, those look fantastic!


  • Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your health issues from eating out 🙁 And I agree, there’s nothing worse than looking at a menu, where the vegetable column is studded with meat and seafood!

    Mmmm these do look incredibly delicious!


  • Sounds yummy except for the scallions! 😉


  • Yeah, this is why I prefer to eat at home – I don’t have to worry about ingredients that I can’t eat, haha. Hang in there, dear Ricki!!

    Love the pancake dish!!


  • Oooh, those sound so yummy!! Pork in veggie dumplings?? Weirdos! I’m glad that you found something yummy to create at home from your less than stellar restaurant experience.


  • I love your Tuesday rendez-vous en amoureux! But sorry about those evil new owners – at least they have some little pannycakes to offer up. These sound great – I know I’ll try them!


  • I SO hear you on the “Vegetable” section of the menu. Who knew that pork was considered a vegetable?

    Scallion pancakes with plum sauce sound really good. Through a friend, I found a Chinese shop two blocks away with curry pastes, homemade tofu, and Chinese sauces. I am so happy.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe!


  • isn’t it fun to create a restaurant dish at home? I’m glad your adaptation turned out so well. The photos are amazing.


  • Oh no! I’m sorry about the restaurant, I hate it when that happens! At least something good came out of it though…this recipe!


  • Wow, this looks so delicious! I’m going to try it this weekend.


  • limeandlemon

    this looks really delicious .. really love it .. Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com


  • I used to love scallion pancakes. I say “used to” because I’d forgotten all about them, completely and totally. I have a vague memory, though, that they used to involve rice flour.

    Your photo looks so good, I can almost see their chewiness!

    It just so happens I have the very same cookbook out from the library and sitting on the kitchen table — due today and so far unused. I must renew it and make time to try recipes!


  • I have been wanting to try making scallion pancakes. They look really good!


  • Yum! I like to make mine with besan flour.. I haven’t worked much with spelt flour..


  • Hi All,
    Since a few of you have asked about similar pancakes made with chickpea flour, I thought I’d mention that I posted a recipe for those (cheela or pudla) in a previous post, here (scroll to bottom for recipe). Those are gluten free and a bit softer, with more veggies and spices. . . but of course you can adapt to your own needs. 🙂


  • the photo is absolutely stellar, miss ricki! I hope your weekend is going well. and I wish you would win, because you deserve it, by golly.


  • These scallion pancakes look easy & delicious. Like your joke about marine “after-life”.


  • p.s. I sometimes used to order a vegan tofu soup out, ’til one of the waitresses tipped me off that it was sometimes made with beef bouillion. 🙁


  • I knew right away when I saw the title that I would like these…that I would be making them. I will, once I get some more gluten-free flour.

    My husband grew up in the Toronto area, and I remember VERY CLEARLY walking through Chinatown and seeing all the marine after-life. It is branded into my memory.


  • oh ohh oh i love ! my mom makes them too 🙂 i’ve made whole wheat before! it’s so good sprinkled with some kosher salt


  • ah, love the tuesday interludes 🙂 bummer about the favorite spot, though! i sure do need to try these…


  • Never mind about the coarse sea salt – these photos make my mouth water! That is such a shame about your regular place – hope you find another and don’t have too many more disappointments (and belly aches) in the search


  • Jes

    I’ve been wanting to make scallion pancakes for quite some time! Great looking recipe!


  • Hey! Who are you calling puerile??!! The pancakes look delicious, nonetheless. I’ll have to try them in lieu of my normal mac & cheese or pbj.


  • Em

    These look sooo lovely! Wish you posted them earlier so i could put them in the “vegan blog cookbook” i compiled from my favorite vegan recipes from various blogs for my mom for Christmas! Guess I’ll have to add a makeshift extra page for this recipe! Too goodlookin’ to leave out!


  • Romina,
    Thanks! Nice to “see” you again, too 🙂

    The issues have been around for 10 years now, so I’m used to them–usually, though, I don’t even consider wheat unless the food is totally irresistible, considering the consequences! But these were (almost) worth it. 😉

    But without the scallions, they’re just–dough!! (No, really, onions are yummy–and so good for you, too).

    I’m leaning toward that conclusion, too! Though getting served is always so nice.

    Yep, it was weird–virtually everything had some sort of meat! But worked out in the end.

    Too bad we have to find a new place now, but I guess it was time for a change, anyway. And I discovered these!

    Still Life,
    When I lived in residence as a don, the in-house cafeteria once served fries with ketchup. . . and considered the KETCHUP as a vegetable! So I guess everyone has different ideas about what’s a “vegetable,” eh? And your local shop sounds great. 🙂

    Yes, I love trying to re-create pretty much any recipe! And thanks so much. 🙂

    Yes, I guess this was the green lining in the bad restaurant cloud!

    Thanks! And do let me know how it turns out if you give them a try. 🙂

    Thanks so much, and for your comment! Let me know how you like them if you do try them out.

    Don’t you love this type of coincidence? And yay for re-discovering scallion pancakes! (I bet they’d be good with rice flour, too).

    You should give them a try–they’re actually really easy, and soooo delicious!

    Ooh, I love the idea of bean flour in this type of thing! I find spelt very easy to work with–almost like wheat, but just a bit more delicate in texture (since it has less gluten).

    Madcap Cupcake,
    Thanks! We thought there were. 🙂

    Aww, thanks so much! But the win wasn’t meant to be, I’m afraid. . .though the weekend was nice. 🙂

    Thanks–yes, both easy AND delicious. Glad you got a chuckle 😉 And isn’t what that restaurant did illegal? What if someone had a severe allergy, for instance? Yikes.

    How cool that your hubby grew up near here (but sorry about the bad experience in Chinatown). Thought it worth mentioning that spelt DOES have gluten, though–just less than wheat.

    I would have loved to use kosher salt, but didn’t have any in the house–they were still delish, though.

    Yeah, we need to find a new place! Since then, we’ve sort of wandered around aimlessly. . . sigh.

    Thanks so much! We’re still searching, but I’m sure a new place will pop up sooner or later!

    I think now’s the time to go for it! 😉

    Thanks for your comment, and for visiting! Well, I was referring to MYSELF, of course. 😉 And I do think they’d be a great stand-in for either of those.


  • I love owning this cookbook….(after renewing my library copy three times my boyfriend caught on and bought it for me :)) and the scallion pancakes were one of the first things I made…YUM. I did them with regular flour, but I’m sure spelt would be just as delicious and make them a little healthier for me….


  • giz

    Oh my – I haven’t seen these for so long and just looking at them brings back some very good memories. Beautiful. I seem to always have a problem picking one restaurant from the multitude in China Town North.


  • For a moment there I thought you were going R-rated! 🙂

    I feel so spoiled with all my wheat eating, you guys with wheat and/or gluten allergies are so resourceful and creative.

    You had me laughing out loud at the oil bubble bath reference!


  • PG

    What don’t I get here? Am I misreading this? Wheat makes you sick, but you still eat it? There are wheat-free four blends out there that work very well. I use one that you can’t tell from regular (Doves Farm Organic). Before I was diagnosed with coeliac, my symptoms were exactly what you describe (and please remembe that half of all coeliacs have ‘non-GI symptoms’, and that 1 in 100 has coeliac). Maybe you should be tested? Or just avoid what makes you ill? Your body is trying to tell you something.


  • I recreate dishes I like from restaurants at home all the time too! great job at being creative! I love those chinese scallion pancakes too…They’re especially good with curries!


  • Oh man, I LOVE Scallion Pancakes. I’ve always wanted to make them but never thought I could get it right; thanks for posting this!


  • PG,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, and for reading.

    No, I don’t think you misread my blog post, though I am sorry that I gave the impression that the situation was perhaps more dire than it really was (humor does tend to exaggerate at times). I appreciate your feedback and suggestions as well.

    I am not celiac (I have been tested and the official diagnosis is IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as I mention in my About page). There is no damage to the small intestine or villi. I am sensitive to wheat, however, but have no reaction to spelt or kamut. I also eat gluten free about 50% of the time because I know that it’s easier on the system in general, simply because GF foods are less allergenic.

    Perhaps you’re reacting to what seems to me a particularly North American mentality, which is to eat something anyway even if it doesn’t totally agree with one–clearly a bad habit. I can think of many people who ignore their bodies’ signals so that they can continue to indulge in foods (or other things) that don’t agree with them. I’m afraid I was certainly guilty of that behavior most of my adult life, and it’s only in recent years that I’ve truly begun to heed what my body tells me (or try to do so, anyway).

    In this case, it was a conscious choice I made. Had I chosen a non-wheat option, I would have been equally uncomfortable consuming other ingredients that don’t agree with me (such as pork or beef), so I picked the least offensive of the offenders. After working very hard over the past 10 years to eat a more healthful diet and live in a way that is good for my body, I am glad to say that this type of departure is now the exception in my eating habits when it used to be the rule. I’m certainly not perfect, however, and am still sometimes drawn by things that may not be great for me, such as foods containing wheat or sugar, for example. It’s a daily struggle and I continue to work on it.

    Thanks for sharing your own experience and for your feedback.


  • I’ve had my eye on this recipe for ages so i’m delighted to read such a rave review! I’m definitely going to try it now 🙂 I hope that you find another lunch date place that suits your requirements soon though – it’s such a nice tradition you’ve got there


  • Jo

    I saw something similar done with chickpea flour at a restaurant recently. Delicious!

    I should probably make these, seeing as I actually had a dream about making them last night! Your recipes are invading my subconcious.


  • This is a lovely recipe, so much like the parathas we make. I love the flavor of scallions! looks very crisp on the outside.


  • Ricki, the scallion pancakes sounds absolutely heavenly! What a brilliant dish! I can taste the caramelized scallion and the sea salt already… Oh my…

    I am so inspired by your beautiful lunch tradition – what a glorious way to elevate the humble Tuesday to romantic heights! I love weekly traditions… Thank you for encouraging me to include more of them in our days…


  • Whoops… “Scallion pancakes sound, not ‘sounds…'” Sigh… Sorry – just had to correct that typo, otherwise it would bother me all day *sheepish expression* 🙂


  • Mmmm, those look wonderful! I’ve recently inherited two giant griddles and I definitely need to start making some wheatfree pancakes and flatbreads.

    I had to laugh at the veggie options at the restaurant. I’ve seen that done with tofu too. Who does tofu and pork?!!??


  • Sorry to hear about your sushi troubles! These pancakes sure sound good, though…I’ve never had savory pancakes.


  • AHH! that stinks that they didnt have any sushi options for you.. boo!! its can be frusterating eating out sometimes. Its also really hard when the man eats meat and then your sitting there with NOTHING… double boo!!!

    im glad you were able to adapt the recipe!!!


  • i’ve never had scallion pancakes, although i’ve always wanted to try them! i’m going to start with yours, Ricki! they sounds so good & look absolutely awesome! hooray!


  • Can you believe I’ve never had a savory pancake? These look perfect for Chinese New Year!


  • These pancakes look really good. Thanks for the recipe, once again! I really enjoy reading your blog. Also, thanks for visiting my blog at Vox.


  • Lovely pancakes and an interesting recipe! Sounds like fun. A nice change from sushi, which is one of my favorites too.


  • I just bought a huge bag of spelt flour, planning to make bread, but these sound so much better. Thanks for sharing!


  • cookingforaveganlover



  • I wanted to make these for ages! Thank’s for reminding me. What a simple and beautiful food. I love madhur Jaffrey’s book.


  • wow, those look great! i love the idea of a savory pancake… and an afternoon (culinary) delight 🙂


  • Scallion pancakes are definitely a boon for us vegetarians dining at notoriously veggie-unaccommodating Chinese restaurants; seriously, who thought that “chive dumplings” would come stuffed with pork…? And every once in awhile you can find non-greasy, non-floury, exceptionally crispy and toothy pancakes filled with mellow scallion flavor (can you tell I’m craving these right now?).

    I haven’t heard of this pancake method. Any chance you can find some pictures of the process? I’m having a little trouble picturing it in my head 🙁


  • These look fantastic! Can’t wait to try them. 🙂


  • pietra

    NOW…Dip them in this!!
    Hot Black Bean Sauce
    5T. Salad oil
    3T. crushed red pepper
    1 1/2 T. Fermented black beans(rinse & drain well)
    1 1/2 T. Finely chopped garlic
    2 tsp. EACH dry Sherry & Sesame oil
    1/2 tsp. salt
    Put in all ingredients in a ball jar. Cover tightly & place in a pan on a rack over simmering water. Cover pan & steam 45 minutes. Let cool. Serve at room temp.
    To store refrigerate up to 6 months.


  • I love scallion pancakes!! Yum yum!


  • My husband and I had a favorite Mexican Restaurant we went to every weekend for 7 years, and one weekend we went there, it was gone! Doors locked, empty, the whole nine yards! So I understand your frustration over new management/new menu. I kind of felt like they should have discussed it with us first! Those scallion cakes look amazing, I will definately try those. I’m sorry about your wheat allergy, that must be hard to manage while eating out! I enjoyed reading your blog today!


  • Thank you for posting this recipe! I’ve been wanting to make these forever. I too have a wheat sensitivity and am going to try making these with rice flour. I’ve had them mostly at Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, and I always thought that was what they used.

    Great blog, btw! I will be sure to check back.


  • I love scallion pancakes, who knew they were so easy to make? yum!!


  • Wow these look amazing! I love green onion pancakes but I only ever eat them when we go out for dimsum with my boyfriend’s family. I should try your version, and also not feel so guilty about it using spelt flour. =)


  • Oh and I also meant to ask – what do you think of Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook? I know lots of people say they like it but I’m scared it’s going to be like Deborah Madison’s vegetarian tome that I find pretty unappealing.


  • OH MY GOSH. During high school our cross country captain would bring these to our “spaghetti parties” (Aka get as many processed carbs in you as you can. Oh the days I could eat junk willy nilly and not gain a pound!). I loved those darn scallion pancakes, but haven’t touched them since deciding to live a healthier lifestyle. You are a goddess!! I am so excited to try these out!


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>