• It's spring onion that gives this flaky pancake its oomph. (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
When life gives you non-butter puff pastry, make spring onion pancakes.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

7 Jul 2020 - 11:30 AM  UPDATED 27 Jul 2020 - 4:33 PM

When the Chinese food cravings hit, they hit hard. None much harder than the elusive, flaky, crispy, slightly chewy, spring onion-filled fried pancake.

Videos online of fresh-made pancakes require lots of patience, kneading and resting, some even call for a special roux to spread between the layers for ultimate flakiness. But when the hungry pancake-loving corner of the internet wants a shortcut, you bet that’s what they’ll get.

The Subtle Asian Cooking Facebook group has brought us the delights of a one-minute microwave cheung fun in the past, and today it brings us puff pastry shallot cakes.

Of course, I had to give these a try and spread the good word. Here’s how it goes with some tweaks for success.

Go against your instincts and make sure there's NO butter in your puff pastry.

How to make shortcut spring onion pancakes

Defrost a square of store-bought puff pastry and slice up a bunch of spring onions. I’d recommend at least three to four spring onions per pastry square – you will need more than you think. Also, ready your shaker of Chinese five-spice powder.

For best results on the pastry front, check the label and buy the one that contains vegetable oil/shortening, not butter. Butter will still work fine but won’t quite taste the same as a shallot cake from your local Chinese restaurant. Read carefully too as some non-butter puff uses palm oil so avoid it depending on your stance.

Sprinkle a hefty layer of shallots onto the puff pastry square, leaving a few centimetres free on one edge to seal, then lightly sprinkle over a little five-spice powder.

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Roll the pastry up tightly, tucking in all the spring onions as you go, but roll it on a slight angle so there’s a pointy end overhanging on both sides. It’ll make it easier to close up a the end.

Once you’ve rolled and sealed up the log, roll from one pointy end into a tight snail, then tuck the remaining pointy end underneath and press gently to seal.

Grab the piece of plastic from your pastry and place the little fat pancake in the middle, press down to flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, then take a rolling pin (or wine bottle) and roll out into a disc. It should be around a ½ cm thick and about the size of a side plate.

Place the pancake in a pan over low-medium heat with a little neutral oil and fry until the bottom is golden and the pastry becomes translucent. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Then flip and fry another 5 minutes till cooked through.

Chop or rip and serve with an optional dipping sauce of soy, black vinegar and chilli oil.

Just look at those layers

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