As I learned with Beef Tataki, sometimes the foods we enjoy at restaurants aren’t as hard to make at home as we think they might be. So, when I ended up with some leftover chopped green onion, well what else was I going to make but green onion cakes?
But before I get into my green onion cake experiment, if you aren’t from Edmonton, you might be wondering what a green onion cake is. In fact, it might sound kind of gross. I promise you, they aren’t. A green onion cake (or “cong you bing“) is a savoury unleavened flatbread, folded with oil and minced onions and then fried.
According to officals at the Royal Alberta Museum “the popular dish is a traditional northern Chinese food. It was first brought to Edmonton in the 1980s after the city saw an influx of Chinese immigrants, many of which came from northern parts of the country. One of those immigrants decided to open up a restaurant and after needing a supplemental income, he started making green onion cakes at festivals. Since then, it has become a popular food staple at many local festivals such as Taste of Edmonton and Edmonton International Fringe Festival.” In fact, Edmontonians love green onion cakes so much there is a whole blog devoted to Edmonton green onion cakes.
What I find interesting, though, is that green onion cakes never seemed to reach the same level of popularity in other North American cities (that I am aware of). For some reason Edmontonians just can’t get enough of their green onion cakes. And maybe that is because they are just so delicious.
This was actually my second attempt at green onion cakes, and I think after trying out 2 recipes (here and here), both with slightly different methods, I picked up a couple little tricks to make a tasty green onion cake at home. First, divide the dough into the individual pancake sized portions before rolling them out. And second, oil. Lots of oil. 🙂
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp oil (I suggest either a mixture of sesame and olive)
- additional all-purpose flour for dusting
- oil for frying
Sift together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Slowly add the warm water to the flour mixture. Knead the dough until it is no long sticky and the surface becomes smooth. About 10 minutes.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
On a flat, floured surface divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball using your palm. Working with one dough ball at a time, roll the dough to a thin disc using a rolling pin. Dust the rolling pin with some all-purpose flour as you go. Brush the surface of the disc with the oil, sprinkle with green onions and then roll the disc up into a tube.
Coil the tube up like a snail. Dust the rolling pin with the flour and roll the dough until flat, measuring about 6 inches in diameter. Set the dough aside on a baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
Add a good splash of oil (depends how ‘healthy’ you want to be) into a frying pan and heat over moderately high heat. Transfer a piece of pancake into the pan. Shallow fry each side of the pancake to a light golden brown, about 1 minute. Add more oil, repeat the same for the remaining pancakes and serve immediately with Sambal Oelek.
I have to admit, these aren’t quite as good as the deep-fried, puffy green onion cakes I get when I go for pho, but they are still pretty darn delicious. Especially when they are hot out of the frying pan. Plus, sometimes I think it’s fun to just try to make these types of things at home, just to see how they turn out!