Pancake Tuesday recipes: Cong You Bing (spring onion pancakes)

Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 06:00

  • Makes: 16
  • Cooking Time: 25 mins
  • Course: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • Makes 16 x 8cm pancakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 275g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • Sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, green parts and a little of the white finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder (optional)
  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons good soy sauce
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime


Rich, crisp and addictively moreish, these green-onion pancakes are one of Northern China’s most famous street foods, often found at breakfast ‘shops’ or on dim sum menus.

They are made with a dough of flour and hot water, rather than a batter, and shaped into snail-like coils and rolled to give them their distinctive flaky texture. Serve with a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and lime as a party snack or for a light supper.

In a bowl, dissolve the salt in 175ml hand-hot water and mix with the flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes until the dough is very smooth and slightly springy. Divide into 8 balls (or 16 if you wish to serve as party snack), brush very lightly with oil, put in a bowl covered with a damp tea-towel, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the rice wine vinegar in a jug with the soy sauce, ginger, chilli flakes, sugar and lime juice, then divide into individual bowls ready to serve. Set aside.

On a floured surface, roll out each ball into a thin rectangle about 12 x 18cm. Brush with sesame oil and sprinkle with the spring onion and five-spice powder, if using. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a cigar shape, brush the inside with a little more sesame oil, then roll into a snail shape and tuck under the ends. Press lightly with your hands to flatten the spiral. Roll it out very gently into an ultra-thin pancake. You should still see the coils. Roll gently to retain flakiness and turn often to avoid making holes in the pancakes.

Cover the prepared pancakes with a damp cloth. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush with sunflower oil. When the oil is shimmering, slip the first pancake into the hot pan. It should sizzle and not burn. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden, shaking the pan gently. Flip over and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Drain on a plate covered with kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining pancake coils. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.