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In Search of the Ultimate Green Onion Cakes


Okanagancook
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I have been making green onion cakes for a lot of years.  My recipe was based on a newspaper recipe submitted by a restaurant which made 'the best green onion cakes ever'.  

With the plethora of spring onions in the garden I thought it a good opportunity to explore other recipes and the 'ins and outs' of green onion cakes.  I have not been enamoured with my past cakes.

I looked at a lot of Utube videos and made notes about the different tips and secrets that each presenter had to offer in the pursuit of the ultimate crispy cake.

 

I have based my cake making on Chef John's recipe and technique, here:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxbS6j1B1Ps&t=427s

 

I also found this video about the different ways of rolling them:  

 

 

 

Chef John's recipe is:

 2 cups APF

1.5 tsp salt

3/4 cup very hot water

Mix, knead and rest overnight

 

Make a roux using:

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp APF

Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium low heat and simmer for about a minute..cool.

 

From my Search I have found the following methods and variations:

 

The Dough:

Mostly the dough is made with APF.  Some like to use a mixture of APF with either cornstarch or cake flour because that results in a lower protein content and softer dough.

Some add baking soda to make it lighter.

The water temperature can be either boiling, very hot or room temperature or a mixture of hot and room temp.

The dough is rested anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.  The overnight rest is supposed to add flavour and make the dough easier to roll out.

The dough is to rolled very thin so many layers can be created.

 

The Roux:

This is the secret to good cakes as per many videos.

The basic recipe is above.  Some add seasonings such as salt, black pepper, chili flakes, Szechwan pepper or sautéed white part from the spring onion.

 

The Rolling:

The video link above shows most of the variations.  The point is to create layers so the cake is flaky...much like puff pastry.

 

The Cooking

Most show the cakes being cooked covered for about 3 to 4 minutes a side with varying amounts of oil.  Covering ensures the centre of the cakes gets cooked before the outside is brown...this is a revelation and really works...mine were very often raw in the centre.

 

 

If you have any experience with the variations your comments would be welcome.

 

I made Chef John's recipe with very hot water and rested in overnight.  I made the roux two ways.  First his basic recipe then I added the sautéed white part of the green onion.  This resulted in a very pasty mix which was hard to spread.  I would just go with his basic recipe next time and I would add some salt.

 

I made each cake from 85 grams of dough so I got 6 cakes from the recipe.  At first I was rolling them out by hand then decided to use the Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller as I do when making pot stickers.  I rolled the dough out to #4 which resulted in the perfect thickness.  I used Chef John's rolling technique.  I did try the technique of rolling from each end then stacking the two...I have yet to cook those.  It is important to stretch the rolled dough out before rolling into a cake.  Seems to make them easier to roll out into the cake.

I cooked mine 4 min/side covered over just slightly less than medium heat.  I used maybe 2 tsp oil.

They were flaky but not as flaky as some of the videos.  I maybe should have used more oil in the cooking pan.  Or maybe I rolled them out too thin.  I basically had two layers.

 

Here are some pictures...that's the roux with onions.

P1010004.thumb.jpg.8b8ce16a2368c498b54aa72fe8b1338a.jpgP1010006.thumb.jpg.d14f54385e6b3c12087b3efbfaf82c56.jpgP1010009.thumb.jpg.18dd92178451431e56eebca94bdbe70d.jpgP1010012.thumb.jpg.af517cc56428a33dc8d4fd4cd5653ede.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Maybe Korean pajeon (sorry, I haven't tested this). Here is Maangchi's video:

 

 

Maangchi has a more recent video for yachaejeon (vegetable pancake) as well. I learned how to make kimchi from Maangchi's recipe. (Got the recipe from her website, not via her videos.)

 

If you have some gochujang paste, you can make a really good dipping sauce as well.

 

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I'll be following along with interest!

 

I've only recently started making scallion pancakes, but I did try the Serious Eats one. That was a massive failure. The recipe calls for waaaay too much onions - a half cup onions per pancake, without making a roux or sizzling them, ended up a big huge sticky wet mess. Also bland - needs salt. Rolling technique is fine, though.

 

I'm going to try the roux version with vegetable shortening next time.

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@ElsieDThanks for that link.  Their dough looks thick but it would be easy to try the roll without scallion technique.  After using the roux I am a fan.  It really helps keep the cakes layers together.

Edited by Okanagancook (log)
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If you leave out the scallions, roll it out differently, put sesame seeds on top and bake it, you get shaobing (sesame oven bread)!

https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/food-drink/article/2156813/how-make-your-own-taiwan-breakfast-specialities

 

After my Serious Eats massive failure, I've been fiddling around with my shaobing dough for scallion pancakes. Later attempts have been better.

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19 hours ago, heidih said:

 

Such a great book! Recently found out that Lee Hefter (one of Wolfgang Pucks top chefs) was a Sous for Barbara Tropp!

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6 minutes ago, AAQuesada said:

 

Such a great book! Recently found out that Lee Hefter (one of Wolfgang Pucks top chefs) was a Sous for Barbara Tropp!

Yes there is a place in China Moon where she recounts spending the evening  with Wolfgang working on her complex stocks and drinking champagne.  Maybe have been after the earthquake mes. A great read. (my book is buried in the garage!)

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While I haven't tried making scallion pancakes yet, I did make laminated parathas and fatayer, which are similar. My tips:

 

Add some water to the roux, it will steam and help the layers separate as well as adding moisture which will improve the dough itself. Same idea as applies to the use of butter in laminated pastries.

 

Griddle twice, first time on a lightly oiled surface, over high heat, this will help layer separation and dough texture. Don't try to color or crisp the dough, just make sure it's baked through. Then let the breads rest until ready to serve, at which time griddle them again over medium heat with some oil, until crisp. Similar concept as applies to french fries, and one I use for almost all breads I bake, as well as to pastries I want to be crisp, such as puff pastry and even muffins.

Edited by shain (log)
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~ Shai N.

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Thanks @shain.  I am serving some with cocktails today so I can bake them off before hand then reheat.  Using high heat until they are cooked..should they be covered to help them cook?

I will make a note about the water....what, about a tablespoon for the roux recipe above.

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2 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

Thanks @shain.  I am serving some with cocktails today so I can bake them off before hand then reheat.  Using high heat until they are cooked..should they be covered to help them cook?

I will make a note about the water....what, about a tablespoon for the roux recipe above.

 

Covering them might help, but the cooking time might end up short enough for this to have little effect.

2 tsp or so, it shouldn't be too thin. 

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~ Shai N.

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The cakes were getting too brown with the pan on high...I have a Wolf stove..maybe too much BTU.  So I cooked them covered for 1.5 minutes per side on Medium-high heat...they are brown but there is room left when I fry them in fat.  Saved me a lot time at the stove when visitors are here AND my cocktail is poured.😆

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I made these last year.. and after reading a bunch of recipes, and trying twice, these techniques made scallion pancakes to my tastes:

 - use hot water

 - do make the oil roux (it's not really a paste/roux like with water as you found out)

 - knead, knead, knead (I started in food processor, switched to hand), and make sure to knead some more

 - roll at least the first time as thin as you can; I don't know your KA roller setting, but a 4 on my marcato machine is thick.  I rolled by hand, to nearly transparent, but not quite filo dough thinness.

 

I think I used either central milling 00 flour or KABF, I don't recall.  I also did a "bou-gie" thing and added flaked salt into the last roll up at the end.

 

scallion pancakes.jpg

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