Oily Scallion Cakes

Congyou Bing

Appears in

Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

By Ellen Schrecker

Published 1976

  • About

Meal: Almost in Advance, Fried — Dinner: Menu

Around the corner from our first house in Taipei there was a tiny open-air restaurant, really no more than a covered shed with a few rough tables. In front of the restaurant stood a teen-aged boy who did nothing but make Oily Scallion Cakes all day long. He worked up the dough, kneaded it, sprinkled it with scallions and oil, twisted it into snail-shaped rolls, flattened them, and then fried each individual cake on a primitive iron grill. The sureness and economy of his motions marked him as a true virtuoso. The only thing better than his performance was his cakes — crisp, salty, and delicious.

Mrs. Chiang says nothing can rival the Oily Scallion Cakes her mother made with the fragrant flour from the family’s own freshly harvested wheat, but those she made for us with regular American flour are magnificent. They are crisper and more delicious than the Oily Scallion Cakes we recall from Taiwan, and we have found our passion for them is universally shared. When we bring them out at the end of a big Szechwanese banquet, our already overfed guests are inspired to eat still more; the pestering of our friends for Mrs. Chiang’s recipe induced us to begin this cookbook. And our editor’s enthusiasm for Oily Scallion Cakes enabled her to put up with all our subsequent delays.

Since Oily Scallion Cakes were originally a street food, they have no special place in a Szechwanese meal. We serve them either as the final, devastating course of a larger meal or else separately with drinks. They aren’t hard to make, and require no special Oriental ingredients. Leftover scallion cakes tend to become soggy; luckily, a few minutes in a moderate oven is all that is needed to resuscitate them.