Homemade Scallion Pancakes | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Homemade Scallion Pancakes

This Chinese appetizer isn’t so hard to make

click to enlarge Homemade scallion pancakes with General Tso’s chicken and white rice - PHOTO COURTESY OF JES BOGDAN
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.

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