Scallion (Spring Onion) Bread
I’ve been sorting through my mother’s cookbooks lately, taking out the ones I want to keep. She has so many interesting Thai and Indian and Chinese cookbooks that I can see already what I’ll be eating for the next few months, at least. This recipe was the first thing that caught my eye when I was skimming through Madhur Jaffrey’s A Taste of the Far East.
I’m an agnostic Jew from Brooklyn, NY. I’m not exactly an authority on Chinese food. If anything, my specialties are sweets and sugar art. But the evidence stands: these breads just couldn’t seem to make it to the table in my house. They were each snatched away from the plate at the side of the stove as soon as they were cool enough to touch. Can’t be all bad.
2 C all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting and roux)
1/2 C cold water
1/2 C boiling water
4 tsp plus 2 tbsp sesame oil
7-8 scallions (spring onions)
Vegetable oil (enough to fill your pan about 3/4″ deep)
Make two separate doughs by mixing and kneading until smooth 1 C flour with 1/2 C cold water for the first dough, and 1 C flour with 1/2 C boiling water for the second dough. Squish the cold water dough into a patty with your hands, and place the ball of boiling water dough atop it. Enclose the boiling water dough with the cold water dough, creating a ball.
Roll the ball into a log about 12″ long. Fold it in thirds (as if you were folding a long and narrow letter), and roll it out again. Repeat this 7-8 times, until it feels very smooth and elastic. Make a ball of it again, coat it in 1 tsp sesame oil, and place it in a plastic bag. Let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.
In the meantime, make your roux by placing 1 tbsp flour in a bowl. Heat up 2 tbsp sesame oil until very hot, then pour over the flour and mix them together. Also, now is a good time to cut up the green parts of the scallions into very fine rounds.
When the dough is ready, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into an oval (about 12″ long, 5″ wide, and 1/8″ thick). Spread the roux over it evenly, and then dust it lightly with flour and sprinkle on a bit of salt. Using both hands, roll it up the long way (so that your roll remains 12″ long). Stretch out the roll until it becomes even longer, about 18″ long.
Cut it into 6 even pieces, each about 3″ long. Pick up each piece separately, twist it in the middle all the way around, then flatten it down to create a patty. (You will see the spiral going from the center of the patty to the edge.) As you work with each patty, keep the rest covered with cloth.
Roll out each patty into an oval about 10″ long and 5″ wide. Spread 1/2 tsp vegetable oil and 1/2 tsp sesame oil evenly over each. Put a line of scallion going from one end to the other, the long way, in the center. Fold the half of the dough on one side of the scallions over the scallions, then fold the half of the dough on the other side over. Bring the ends of the roll together to form a ring. Tuck one end into the other, squishing the dough together. Flatten the ring with your palm so that it becomes about 5″ in diameter.
Heat about 3/4″ vegetable oil in a pan over medium-low heat. When hot, put in the bread. Fry until one side is golden (adjust the heat so that this takes about 2 1/2 minutes), then flip and fry the other side for about 1 1/2 minutes or until golden.
Remove from frying pan and drain on paper towels. Caution small children to wait for them to cool a bit before grabbing them and running to the far corners of the house with their ill-gotten gains.
I like to cut each bread into more manageable pieces and dip them in Jaffrey’s chinese dipping sauce (recipe below).
6 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
A few drops of chili oil (optional)
Mix ingredients together. Dip stuff in them.