This shou zhua bing or “hand fluffed pancake” recipe is the amazing spinoff to the more traditional Chinese Scallion Pancake recipe. It has more crispy layers and is lighter and fluffier. The shou zhua bing are seasoned with star anise, Szechuan peppercorns and five spice powder, which provides a sweet spiciness to the background in addition to the scallions and sesame.

A reader actually brought shou zhua bing to my attention. She was natively from Taiwan, and I had lived in Taiwan for a good year, so I was very surprised I wasn’t aware. Thing is, I think I saw street vendors make this kind of pancake, but never knew the term for it. I just assumed the Taiwanese did their scallion pancakes differently.

What’s really unique about the recipe besides the difference in flavor is the method for forming the layers. We’ve all seen the traditional way of forming layers for scallion pancakes, which includes rolling up a rectangle into a long log and then rolling that log inwards to form a spiral.

With shou zhua bing, you roll out a long piece of dough into log - sort of like a pretzel. You then flatten that log into a 2-inch wide ribbon. You brush the dough with the seasoned roux, which sort of functions like the butter in puff pastry. This roux will be what keeps the layers from sticking to itself and will help the dough puff up afterwards.

Then as you roll this long ribbon, you pull out and stretch the dough making it almost paper thin. This results in super thin layers and more layers as you roll since the dough is being stretched out. What allows this stretch is the oil in the dough. The gluten is more relaxed letting the stretch happen.

Upon thought though, both kinds scallion pancakes should be light and fluffy and indeed both are, but the shou zhua bing is far lighter and fluffier and that has a lot to do with the roux and how the pancakes are cooked.

With shou zhua bing, you don’t simply pan-fry the pancakes. After both sides are cooked, you take tongs or chopsticks and tear up layers of the pancake exposing the insides. You then scrunch up the pancake, which exposes even more layers and makes the entire pancake fluffier.

Preparing for assembly.

Scallion Pancakes “Shou Zhua Bing”

(Makes 6 pancakes)

For the dough:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup cold water

For the roux:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

To assemble:

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

Directions

For the Dough:

  1. Mix together the flour and salt. Add in the boiling water and mix until combined. Add in the cold water and mix until the flour has absorbed all the water.
  2. On a flour surface, need the dough for about 5 minutes, until it is less sticky and a ball can be formed. Set aside for 30 minutes to one hour.

For the Roux:

  1. Cut scallions into four 2-inch stalks. Score the sides.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add in the scallions, star anise and five spice powder. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant.
  3. Take out the scallions and star anise. Pour hot oil into the flour and stir until there are no lumps. Set aside.

Assembly:

  1. Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into logs about 1-inch in diameter. Using a rolling pin, roll out the logs into 2-inch wide pieces.
  2. Brush on a layer of the roux. Sprinkle over salt, scallions, pepper and sesame.
  3. Starting from one end, start rolling up the dough being sure to stretch the dough as it is rolled.
  4. Stand the dough right side up and press down into a circle with the palm of your hand.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll out into 1/8-inch disks.

Pan-Frying:

  1. In a dry pan over medium to medium high heat, fry each side of the dough 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Using tongs or chopsticks, lift up layers of the pancake and scrunch.