Homemade Scallion Pancakes | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Homemade Scallion Pancakes

This Chinese appetizer isn’t so hard to make

Homemade Scallion Pancakes
Photo courtesy of Jes Bogdan
Homemade scallion pancakes with General Tso’s chicken and white rice

A couple of my colleagues here at City Paper laughed when I said I was attempting a homemade meal of Chinese food for an upcoming staycation. They warned me that it could turn out OK, even good-ish, but that it would never match the quality of the real thing. On one hand, I agreed; on the other, I flipped them off and decided I wouldn’t let the hating get me down. 

The plan: General Tso’s chicken, white rice and, most importantly, scallion pancakes.

Also called green-onion pancakes or cong you bing in Mandarin, this was my favorite dish growing up as a picky eater in a family of Chinese-food lovers. It’s a delicious appetizer that’s not ubiquitous on menus, but not all that hard to find either. (Everyday Noodles, in Squirrel Hill, cooks a mean batch.) The consistency ranges from flaky to doughy, but I prefer them crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The risk factor for producing overly greasy onion-y blankets is relatively high, but I knew the odds going in. 

And despite my coworkers’ naysaying, the whole thing turned out fantastic. 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cups of finely diced scallions
  • 8-9 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt
  • 1 cup boiled water


Mix flour, salt, boiled water and sesame oil in a bowl. Knead into dough on lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and let it hang for a bit. Heat six tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pot, add scallions once hot and return to medium-low heat. Divide dough into two equal parts. Roll out into a thin pancake. Spoon out scallions and oil onto it so that all of the dough is lightly greased. Coil the dough like a cinnamon roll, flatten to incorporate scallions, roll back into a pancake, and then add more oil and scallions. Repeat with second dough (all scallions in oil should be used, but not all the oil). Coax each piece of dough into a circle. Heat remaining vegetable oil in skillet, then reduce to medium-low heat. Fry the pancakes, turning frequently.