Why so many Chinese breads, Rachel? Well, when China takes over the world, I want to be ready with my peace offerings. Let’s keep her, she makes a mean shaobing and moo shu pancakes. And then, hands pressed, I bow graciously. Why, of course I’ll be the Emperor’s Baker.
Beijing Pancakes aka Moo Shu Pancakes
adapted from Flatbreads and Flavors and The Luna Cafe
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup water, brought to a boil
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
olive oil for kneading and shaping
2 tablespoons olive oil mixed with 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil, for frying
- To prepare the dough, in a large bowl, add the flour.
- Whisk together the hot water, sesame oil, and salt.
- Pour the water mixture over the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy mass.
- To knead the dough, when cool enough to handle, turn dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, oil your hands, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle with flour as needed.
- To rest the dough, put into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and as long as 3 hours. If you need to hold the dough longer, refrigerate. Show the dough to you very tired bulldog. She has had an exciting weekend–
- To shape the pancakes, turn the dough out onto the clean, lightly floured countertop and roll with your hands to a 16-inch long, 1-inch diameter rope. Cut the rope into sixteen, 1-inch length pieces. Cut each piece in half. You now have 32 pieces of dough, each weighing about 5/8 ounce. Roll each piece into a 1-inch diameter ball.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball as thinly as possible to a 5-inch diameter disk. This was tricky. I made a lot of ugly pancakes with wrinkles and other strangenesses.
- To fry the pancakes, heat an 8- or 10-inch, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Coat the surface of the pan with the vegetable and sesame oil combination. Sauté one pancake at a time until barely golden and dry on both sides—about 1 minute on each side. Don’t overcook the pancakes or they will be brittle. Experiment with the first few, adjusting the heat as necessary, until you get the heat and timing just right. Brush the pan with oil repeatedly as needed. I actually liked cooking them too long on purpose because they made really tasty crispy chips. Also, after the rolled-out rounds have sat for awhile, they are more relaxed and easier to stretch into really thin pancakes.
- To store the pancakes, wrap pancakes in foil (to keep them moist) until ready to use. You can also make them ahead and refrigerate. They keep for days. Reheat briefly in the oven (wrapped in foil) or microwave before eating.
Makes thirty-two, 5-inch pancakes. I plan to use them all week for my spinach wrap sandwiches. The sesame oil isn’t overpowering and I imagine these will be pretty versatile with a lot of toppings. Lighting and thunder ends what was certainly an electric week. Had a wonderful backyard party this afternoon for beloved friends who are leaving town this week. I made a ton of new recipes that I’ll be posting all week!