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Shanghai Scallion Pancakes

Yield: Yields 8 pancakes.

Servings: eight.

These pan-fried flatbreads are crisp outside, slightly flaky inside, and rich with the flavor of scallions, cilantro, and sesame. Also called Shanghai onion bread, they’re very delicious, and very addictive.


  • 4 cups (18 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt; more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 6 Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet until golden
  • About 1-1/4 cups peanut oil

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per pancake
  • Calories (kcal) : 430
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 210
  • Fat (g): 23
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 490
  • Carbohydrates (g): 50
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 8


  • Put the flour in a large bowl (I use a wooden salad bowl). Add the boiling water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Gather the scraps together, pressing and kneading to form a dough ball. Knead the dough in the bowl or on a work surface, floured if necessary, until soft but not very sticky, about 8 minutes. The dough should be light and not very resilient; when you stick your finger in, a slight indentation should remain. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead for another 3 minutes.
  • Put the sesame oil in a small bowl. Shape the dough into an even cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 8 equal pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll one piece into a 6-inch round. Brush the top with the sesame oil and then sprinkle on about 1/4 tsp. salt, about 1/2 Tbs. each scallions and cilantro, and about 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds. Roll up the pancake tightly, stretching to lengthen it slightly. Tie the ends of the cylinder around as if you were forming a knot. Flatten the knotted ball on a lightly floured surface with your palm and then roll it out again into a 6-inch round. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

    Roll out a piece of the divided dough into a 6-inch round and brush with sesame oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt, scallions cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.

  • In a large heavy skillet, pour enough peanut oil to come to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil to 380°F (a rice noodle will puff into a curlicue within 3 seconds or a cube of bread will turn golden in 15 seconds). Fry one or two pancakes at a time until both sides are golden and slightly crisp, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle immediately with coarse salt. Serve hot.

    Scallion pancakes cook to golden crispness in about 5 minutes. A sprinkling of coarse salt and they’re ready to serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (1 review)

  • JSLaFalce | 05/31/2008

    These pancakes were wonderful - excellent flavor. We made them ahead and heated them in a convection oven. There were very good. Would like to make them and serve them freshly made next time. Added fresh chopped chives for presentation.

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