The Oven has baked its last loaf. This blog is no longer being updated.

My cooking videos appear at

I write on food at

Spring (onion) is in the air

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

They're called spring onions, green onions, scallions, onion leaves (daun bawang in Malay), but by any name they make a delicious addition to many dishes. I think they're almost a cross between a vegetable and a herb because they seem to be able to hold their own against some of those leafy greens and yet add flavour where needed. In fact, according to Alan Davidson's Penguin Companion to Food, they are also sometimes called salad onions. He also points out that since they are now available all year round, the name "spring onions" has lost its significance. Make no mistake, though, while they may be the milder cousins of bulb onions, get too close and they can still sting your eyes.

Spring onions are the star in these Chinese-style pancakes. The dough for the pancakes is a simple mix of flour and water, but the water should be just boiled. In effect, this cooks the flour slightly and gives it a good elasticity. It's the same method many a Punjabi lady uses when making chapati dough (using atta or wholemeal chapati flour instead).

Rolling and twisting the dough in a particular way (see pictures below) give the pancakes a unique spiral pattern when cooked and makes them puff up so they have a bit of crunch but are still soft on the inside.

Cut the pancake into wedges if dining in polite company, or simply tear into them if the people around you don't mind. What's a little feral behaviour between friends, eh?

Makes four 17cm pancakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp sesame oil
½ -¾ cups boiling water, approximate
2 spring onions, diced (finely chop the white part; the green part can be coarser)
Oil for shallow frying
Flaky or sea salt
  • Place flour in a medium bowl and rub in sesame oil. Pour in the water a little at a time and stir until the mixture comes together. It should be soft but not sticky. Press the dough together and knead for a minute and form into a ball. The dough will still be rough at this stage. Cover and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. (I leave the ball of dough on the kneading surface and place the bowl it was mixed in over it like a dome. There will still be some residual heat from the hot water which helps soften the dough.)
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough again until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, then divide into four portions (you can divide into 6 or 8 portions for smaller pancakes).
  • Roll out each piece into a thin circle and scatter with diced scallion. Roll up like a Swiss roll, then twist into a loose spiral. Flatten the spiral and roll out again into a 17cm circle. Sprinkle salt over both sides, pressing down lightly so it sticks to the dough. If you are not cooking them immediately, you can refrigerate them at this stage in a stack with cling film between each pancake. The dough will remain soft.
  • When ready to cook, heat oil in a skillet and shallow-fry the pancakes, pressing down lightly with a spatula so they cook evenly. This also makes them puff up slightly as air pockets will form. Cook until both sides are golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve plain or with a dipping sauce.
  • A ready-made chilli sauce go well with the pancakes, but make a simple dip by mixing soy sauce and rice vinegar with minced ginger, garlic and spring onion to taste.

1 comment:

  1. My family enjoys a similar Chinese-style pancake which has ikan bilis, chilli and spring onions. Your post reminded me of my dad's recipe! :)


Your views are welcome and appreciated. Have a nice day!