Chinese Green Garlic Pancakes

Traditionally made with scallions, I took a North Carolina farmer’s market twist on an old Chinese favorite.

After making my green garlic and bok choy soup, I realized I wanted some sort of filling, starchy side to go with it. Even though I’ve cut down significantly on my carbohydrate consumption, I couldn’t help but get excited for these simple pancakes. The use of green garlic was, in a word, delicious. You can of course make it with the typical green onion.

Fancier versions definitely exist — this one that uses yeast, for instance — but I like this simple version, made with a Chinese “hot water dough” that gently and partially cooks the gluten, resulting in a softer texture. It’s just a simple 2:1 :: flour:hot water ratio, so you can easily cut or expand this recipe to fit your hunger or pantry.

[Sidenote: I have to say the concept of ratios in cooking fascinate me. Too often we’re hung up on the details and are unable to get to the building blocks of a recipe. I love reading old recipes with non-standardized ingredient lists, like “add the milk of one coconut” or “three parts X to one part Y.” Michael Rhulman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking is definitely on my to-read list, although a quick skim shows me that his recipes (understandably) skew very Western, focusing on foods I don’t normally eat/make.]

To be honest, I had never eaten these pancakes until I left home. A Chinese American friend of mine taught me how to make them in college, although our first batch flopped horribly (see tip 1 below). She was shocked when she found out I’d never had a scallion pancake; this just goes to show how “traditional” can mean different things to people even within the same ethnic group. 🙂

These make an excellent side dish or appetizer, freezes well uncooked, and also can be re-heated in the oven (although freshly made is always best). If additional saltiness is needed, try whisking together a quick dipping sauce with some soy sauce, sesame oil, chili flakes and rice vinegar.

Some tips:

  1. Don’t overwork the dough in the beginning. This pancake is a super simple flour/water combination, and overkneading will create lots of gluten, resulting in one tough pancake (as there is no yeast)
  2. Salt a smidge more than you think you’ll need — otherwise they’ll be bland
  3. When first rolling out the dough (to a rectangle), roll it as thin as possible to give you more flaky layers
  4. Roll the final pancake out thinly, but don’t squash it too hard — you want to maintain the individual layers that you worked hard to develop throughout the process
  5. The formed, uncooked pancakes can also be frozen for later use, just separate each with a piece of waxed paper, wrap everything up, and freeze

Chinese Green Garlic (or Scallion) Pancakes
Makes 4 small pancakes, enough for an appetizer/side for two


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup Scallions or green garlic, chopped
  • Oil — you can use sesame or olive, and neutral oil for frying
  • Salt
  • Mix hot water into flour with a fork or chopsticks until incorporated. Once dough is cool enough to touch, knead briefly, until the dough sticks together cleanly (adding additional flour/water as necessary).
  • Form into a ball, leave in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, take dough and divide into four equally sized pieces.
  • Working one piece at a time, roll out into a rectangular shape (see note 3 above). Brush surface with oil (sesame will give more flavor), and sprinkle with chopped green garlic, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of additional flour.
  • Roll the dough up like a cigar or a cinnamon roll. Take the long log and coil it around itself, into a “snail” shape. Tuck the free edge underneath the coil, and use a rolling pin to flatten it out to a circle. Repeat for three remaining pieces of dough.
  • Heat a skillet to medium. Using a neutral oil (peanut, vegetable, olive), pan fry the pancakes until golden brown on each side and cooked through. Cut into triangles and serve immediately, or, put aside and reheat in a warm oven.

One thought on “Chinese Green Garlic Pancakes

  1. Pingback: Green Garlic and Bok Choy Soup | Don the Apron!

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