Mix things up at your breakfast table with this savory Taiwanese staple.
Recently, I was overcome by my desire to master cooking the food I love from my home country of Taiwan. So I decided to make scallion pancakes. These bear almost no resemblance to traditional American pancakes; they’re savory and pair perfectly with a warm bowl of soy milk. I usually order my soy milk hot, but it’s equally good on ice, lightly sweetened. Yum!
Scallion pancakes (cong yu bing) are part of the Taiwanese-style breakfast, which traces its origins to Northern China. Other parts of this meal include soy milk (dou jiang), egg crepe (dan bing), steamed buns (man tou), and savory Chinese doughnut (yu tiao).
My parents moved back to Taiwan after they retired from their careers, and my family and I visit them every year. Lucky for us, their apartment is located right across the street from an outpost of the famous Yonghe Dou Jiang Da Wang – or Yonghe District Soy Milk King. (The name speaks for itself, doesn’t it?) This branch is open 24 hours, as are many eateries in Taipei, and run by a young and cheerful couple who seem to be there whenever I pass by. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable they feel in front of the hot griddle, cooled only by an electric fan. I felt uncomfortably hot just standing and watching them work quickly to prepare pancakes to order, deftly turning them out within minutes.
Unlike a lot of Taiwanese food, scallion pancakes are widely available in the United States. They are even available frozen in Asian grocery stores, and they’re pretty good. Nothing beats fresh, homemade scallion pancakes, though, so I’d encourage you to try my recipe below. (Don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments!) My version of the pancakes is a bit different from how they’re usually made because I use white whole-wheat flour instead of regular white all-purpose flour. I do this because I’ve been trying to cook only whole grains in my kitchen. The result is somewhat heartier than the standard pancakes, with a pleasant nutty taste.
Prep time: 45 minutes