My husband, Andy, was born and raised in Brooklyn by Puerto Rican parents - he's a Nuyorican. For those first 20-something years of life he lived in NYC he ate all the foods....gluten, dairy, didn't matter.
He's been Paleo right alongside me since 2010 because, like me, it makes him feel so much better. But sometimes he misses his favorite quintessential NYC foods. I made bagels for him, but he recently gave me a list of other foods he'd love to enjoy as gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo options.
I'm talking about: chicken parm (PERFECT way to use my melty, stretchy tapioca cheese), black and white cookies, street cart style pretzels, halal chicken with white sauce, pork buns....
And these. NYC-style Chinese scallion pancakes.
Oh my gawd, y'all. These are TOO. DARN. DELICIOUS. And very easy to make, making them a lil' bit dangerous.
Like so many of my mouth-watering Paleo and AIP versions of your favorite foods, these scallion pancakes are made possible thanks to the magic of Otto's Cassava Flour, who so generously sponsored the development of this recipe for y'all! For more of my delicious recipes using this flour, click here.
Otto's Cassava Flour: all-purpose Paleo & AIP flour
Otto's Cassava Flour is my favorite all-purpose Paleo, gluten-free, and AIP flour. In this case (and this is often true for other recipes) it is a 1:1 replacement for white flour.
I love recipes that only need ONE gluten-free flour - don't you? It makes a big difference to only need to measure one thing out, and I also think it makes recipes more foolproof.....the more flours blended together, the more room for error.
If you aren't already familiar with Otto's cassava flour, it is derived from the yuca root (also known as cassava, manioc, mandioca) and it is the whole root, dried and ground into a flour.
Tapioca starch also comes from the yuca root but is the extracted starch. The two are NOT interchangeable (think of them like cornmeal and cornstarch, or potato flour and potato starch).
Eating Scallion Pancakes in NYC
My husband has fond memories of eating scallion pancakes at a Chinese restaurant called Ollie's. It is right across the street from Columbia University (where he worked) in the Upper West Side and was the first taste of Chinatown in the neighborhood. He and his coworkers would go there often for lunch.
It's also where he had his most exciting celebrity sighting his entire time living in NYC: Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation! Aka John de Lancie. So he has all sorts of fond memories attached to this dish :-)
I just love watching his face light up when I feed him a dish he's requested. He said the flavor and texture were completely spot on and took him back to his NYC days as he happily crunched away.
How To Assemble Chinese Scallion Pancakes
Scallion pancakes are not like the sweet pancakes you eat for breakfast. Rather, they are a savory appetizer and they are made from a dough, not a batter. They are a type of laminated pastry like croissants and phyllo. That just means that the dough contains many thin layers with fat in between each one. Those layers = flaky, crisp insides.
Thankfully these are nowhere near as complicated or time-consuming as croissants and the dough doesn't need time to sit or chill.
The dough requires you to use VERY HOT water for it to come together properly. At first, it will be quite shaggy, but once you knead it with your hands it becomes super smooth and easy to work into a ball.
To achieve the multiple layers with scallion pancakes, you first roll it into a flat circle, apply oil, then roll it up like a jelly roll to make a log, then twist it around itself into a spiral. Then, roll it out flat again, oil again, add scallions, and roll it up like a jelly roll again, twist it again, then flatten one final time to fry.
It's so much easier to grasp if you can see the process in action, so here is a photo walkthrough:
Step 1: make a shaggy dough with VERY HOT/BOILING water
Step 2: Stir with a spoon until cool enough to work the dough with your hands. Knead until a smooth dough forms and make a ball. If it's too sticky, work a dusting of flour into it.
Step 3: Roll the dough out into a very thin disc about 6-7 inches across. If at any point it's too sticky, you can dust some cassava flour on your surface/rolling pin.
Step 4: Brush with 1/4 tsp of toasted sesame oil (or avocado oil/melted lard or schmaltz for AIP)
Step 5: Roll up the dough like a jelly roll to form a log.
Step 6: Twist the log around itself to make a spiral
Step 7: roll it out again into a flat disc, brush with another 1/4 tsp oil, and fill with 3-4 tbsp of sliced green scallions
Step 8: Carefully roll up like a jelly roll again, stuffing any scallions that fall out back in. Once it is rolled, pinch the ends closed to secure the scallions.
Step 9: Carefully twist into a spiral, doing your best to keep the scallions contained (it's ok if some poke through the dough, it's inevitable).
Step 10: Flatten one more time into a pancake about 5 inches across (it may be easier to do with your hands vs a rolling pin at this stage).
This whole process takes about 10 minutes from start to finish, and then frying them up takes about 8-10 minutes more. It's important to use plenty of fat in the frying pan and maintain medium heat while frying so that they turn out light and crispy, not heavy and chewy. This is true even if you're using white flour and not cassava flour!
Tips & Tricks For Chinese Scallion Pancakes
Measure Otto's Cassava Flour and water by weight, not volume. This ensures accuracy and easy reproducibility! Never dig your measuring cup into the bag to measure cassava flour because it packs it down and you will end up with WAY too much flour.
You can pick up a kitchen scale for $10-$20 on Amazon, I have this one and it's as indispensable in my kitchen as my cutting board. Place a bowl on top, turn it on to tare it (so it reads zero with the bowl there) and then add your ingredients.
FOR THE WATER it's easier to measure the weight before heating it, so you aren't trying to accurately weigh very hot water!
Frying temperature and amount of fat matters. You want to use a solidly medium temp with enough fat in the pan. You'll need to add more fat after frying the first pancake. Use the smallest frying pan you've got (that fits the pancake) for best results.
On my electric stove, I heat the fat at 5 but then have to slightly reduce the heat to 4.5-4 as it cooks so it doesn't get too hot, as indicated by smoking/excessive sputtering/blackening of the dough rather than browning.
As written, this serves 2. Simply scale up if you're feeding a crowd or want to freeze some for later. **I am currently testing the best method for freezing/reheating so stay tuned for an update!**
If you're looking for a low-carb, keto option for delicious scallion pancakes, check out this recipe by my friend ChihYu from I Heart Umami.
NYC-Style Chinese Scallion Pancakes
Crispy and flaky, these NYC-style Chinese scallion pancakes taste just like the real thing but without gluten or grain thanks to Otto's Cassava Flour!
IngredientsFor the pancakes:
- 60 grams Otto's Cassava Flour (approx. 1/2 cup scooped and leveled)
- 1/4 tsp unrefined salt
- 70 grams water (1/4 cup + 2 tsp)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (for AIP, use melted chicken schmaltz, duck fat, or non-hydrogenated lard)
- about 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green part only of about 8 green onions)
- 1.5 tbsp fat for frying (lard or avocado oil recommended)
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar (for authentic flavor) but you can use coconut vinegar if you're a stickler for voiding rice products
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek)
- 1 tbsp scallion slices
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp coconut vinegar
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp unrefined sweetener (coconut sugar, sucanat)
- 1 tbsp scallion slices
- Bring water to a boil. Measure the cassava flour. If you are measuring by volume (NOT RECOMMENDED), be sure to use a spoon to drop it into the measuring cup and use a knife to sweep the top. Sprinkle the salt in the flour.
- Carefully add the very hot water to the flour and stir with a spoon to form a shaggy dough. Once cool enough to handle, knead with your hands to work it into a smooth dough that is easy to form into a ball. If the dough is too sticky work a dusting of extra cassava flour into it. Divide dough into 2 portions and roll each into a ball.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a very thin discc about 6-7 inches across. (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE)
- Brush with 1/4 tsp of toasted sesame oil (or alternative fat if AIP)
- Roll up the dough like a jelly roll to form a log.
- Twist the log around itself to make a spiral.
- Roll it out again into a flat disc, brush with another 1/4 tsp oil, and fill with 3-4 tbsp of sliced green scallions.
- Carefully roll up like a jelly roll again, stuffing any scallions that fall out back in. Once it is rolled, pinch the ends closed to secure the scallions.
- Carefully twist into a spiral, doing your best to keep the scallions contained (it's ok if some poke through the dough, it's inevitable).
- Flatten one more time into a pancake about 5 inches across (it may be easier to do with your hands vs a rolling pin at this stage). Repeat the process with the other half of the dough to make a second pancake.
- Heat 1 tbsp of you frying fat over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes to get it good and hot, but not smoking. Carefully slip the pancake in and cook a total of about 8-10 minutes, flipping every 2-3 minutes, until it is browned and crispy on both sides. Add the remaining fat to the pan and cook the 2nd pancake.
- To serve, cut each pancake into 6 slices (like a pizza) and dip with your sauce of choice.
- To make the sauce(s), simply add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir.
Yield: 2 pancakes (serves 2)Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Total time: 20 mins.Tags: Paleo, AIP, Otto's Cassava Flour, Chinese food, NYC food, sesame oil, scallion pancake
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