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
- 1 cup boiled water