Chinese Pancakes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    18

    pancakes

Appears in

These are simply flour-and-water pancakes with no seasonings or spices at all. As such, they blend perfectly with a variety of dishes such as Mu-Shu Vegetables, and serve as the basis of other dishes such as Spring Onion Pancakes. They are used like bread in the West. Once you have acquired the knack — practice, practice — they are easy to make. The unusual method of rolling ‘double’ pancakes is designed to ensure thinner, moister pancakes with less chance of being overcooked. Because they can be frozen, it is possible to make a batch many days, even weeks, in advance. Thaw thoroughly before steaming them. These pancakes can be used with practically any stir-fried dish which does not contain too much sauce.

Ingredients

  • 275 g (10 oz) plain flour
  • 225–250 ml (8–9 fl oz) very hot water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Method

Put the flour into a large bowl. Stir the hot water gradually into the flour, mixing continuously with chopsticks or a fork until the water is fully incorporated. Add more water if the mixture seems dry. Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead it with your hands. Return it to the bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.

After the resting period, take the dough out of the bowl and knead again for about 5 minutes, dusting with a little flour if sticky. Once the dough is smooth, form it into a roll about 46 cm (18 in) long and about 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. Take a knife and cut the roll into equal pieces. There should be about 18. Roll each piece into a ball.

Take 2 of the dough balls. Dip half of one ball into the sesame oil and place the oiled side on top of the other ball. Using a rolling pin, roll the 2 pancakes simultaneously into a circle about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter. It is important to roll double pancakes in this way because the resulting dough will remain moist inside and you will be able to roll them thinner, but avoid the risk of overcooking them later. Place a frying-pan or wok over a very low heat. Put the double pancake into the pan and cook until dried on one side. Flip the pancakes over and cook the other side. Remove from the pan, peel the 2 pancakes apart and set aside. Repeat this process until all the dough balls have been cooked.

Steam the pancakes to re-heat them, or alternatively you could wrap them tightly in a double sheet of foil and put into a pan containing 2.5 cm (1 in) of boiling water. Cover the pan, turn the heat down very low and simmer until they are re-heated. Don’t be tempted to re-heat the pancakes in the oven as this will dry them out too much. If you want to freeze the cooked pancakes, wrap them tightly in freezer wrap first. When using pancakes which have been frozen, let them thaw in the fridge first before re-heating.

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