Scallion Pancakes for the Dim Sum Party
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to spend preparing Chinese ‘little snacks’ to be steamed, fried, baked and shared at Dim Sum parties among friends during the winter months. The little Chinese specialties are many the same I make throughout the year: dumplings, pot stickers, stuffed buns, and pork balls, shrimp toasts.
Mostly, these little treats are barely out of the steamer or fry pan then into the dipping sauce and quickly gone before moving on to an extended meal with a noodle dish or soup.
A Dim Sum Party involves serving a broad variety of these little snacks over the course of a party. The fall Dim Sum preparation involves time, preparing volumes of each separate dish. As each batch is completed they are carefully placed in long plastic containers lined with freezer paper, plastic wrap, then sealed and frozen.
One of the more time consuming tasks is making the Scallion Pancakes. One day each fall I make a number of batches of scallion pancakes over the course of a day or two, to be enjoyed as one of the selections for Dim Sum parties or, fried and served as a nice little treat if friends drop by unexpectedly.
Dim Sum by Cantonese definition translates to ‘little snacks’. In Mandarin, the term used is dian xin, loosely translated to ‘little eats’ but the literal translation is ‘light the heart’.
Conceptually, the idea is for diners to enjoy themselves, find pleasure in the food. Dim Sum rather that dian xin is the most commonly used term due to the predominance of Cantonese restaurants that serve Dim Sum most widely in the West.
A Dim Sum Party at home is a great way for guests to gather and converse over wine, beer, or cocktails while enjoying the ongoing stream of these filling little snacks throughout an afternoon or evening.
In the accurate sense little Chinese snacks can be served any time but Dim Sum are generally served during the day for brunch or lunch, and are eaten sitting down. Still, hosting a ‘Dim Sum Party’ where guests can mingle and move about while enjoying a variety of these dishes in the evening hours has a festive appeal.
Hosting a Dim Sum party for your friends is not really so difficult, advance planning and preparation in the broad variety of dishes served is essential. Scallion Pancakes are so delicious and well worth the time.
Scallion Pancakes as part of the Dim Sum can be fried early in the day on the day of a party, then cut into quarters and even microwaved a few seconds to warm before serving alongside the dipping sauce.
Just as there are many choices to be served for the Dim Sum there are also many expressions the Chinese use conversationally to describe the experience in choosing the foods to be enjoyed during Dim Sum like dian cai sui xin, meaning: spot the dish, follow your heart.
Enjoy the Scallion Pancakes, and may your Dim Sum celebration warm you and your guests the heart of pleasure with your Chinese ‘little snacks’!
Scallion Pancakes for the Dim Sum Party
Scallion Pancake with Dipping Sauce
2 hours, 30 minutes
2 hours, 50 minutes
- For Pancake Topping:
- 4-5 thin scallions, chopped very thinly and finely
- 3-4 Tablespoons sesame oil in a small dish to brush on the dough
- 2-3 Tablespoons kosher salt in a small dish to sprinkle onto the dough
- For Cold Water Dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2/3 cup chilled ice water, possibly two teaspoons more or less, can depend on the weather, and your food processors ease to process the dough into a ball
- For the Hot Water Dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2/3 cup boiling water, and possibly two teaspoons more or less, can depend on the weather, and your food processors ease to process the dough into a ball
- For Preparing the Dipping Sauce:
- Preparing the Dipping Sauce: 1/4 cup soy sauce,
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fine chopped scallions
- 1/2 of a clove garlic, crushed
- 1 thin slice ginger
- For Frying the Pancakes: 3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more as needed while frying
- As an Overview for Scallion Pancakes you will prepare two types of dough in the food processor, a Cold Water Dough, and a Hot Water Dough, then, both doughs will be combined before proceeding in the Scallion Pancake preparation
- Preparing the Cold Water Dough: Mix flour and baking powder into food processor and pulse. In a thin stream begin pouring in the 2/3 cup chilled cold water into the mixture until it forms a ball. If a ball forms before finishing all of the 2/3 cup do not continue adding water, add a small amount more water if necessary to form a ball. Once a ball forms, remove from the processor bowl and set aside.
- Preparing the Hot Water Dough: Mix flour and salt into food processor and pulse. In a thin stream begin pouring in the 2/3 cup boiling water into mixture until it forms a ball. If a ball forms before finishing all of the 2/3 cup do not continue adding water, add a small amount more water if necessary to form a ball. Once a ball has formed, remove from processor bowl and set aside
- Combining the Cold and Hot Preparing the Cold and Hot Dough Together: Combine the Hot and Cold Water Dough Balls a bit by hand then transfer back into the Food Processor and pulse together into one large ball, remove from Processor bowl
- Knead the dough ball one to two minutes by hand
- Cut the large dough ball into twelve pieces. Roll into small balls and set into an oiled, long dish to rest for a half hour, covered with a damp cloth
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each of the twelve pieces into a circle. The circle does not have to be perfect at this stage, once the twelve pieces are rolled into circles, brush each with sesame oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and scatter the scallions lightly across
- Tightly roll up the dough circle into a cylinder shape. Beginning at one end, twist the cylinder around into a circle resembling a cinnamon bun, then, maintaining a lightly floured surface, roll out into a circle, set aside beneath a lightly damp cloth and continue the process until all pancakes are rolled Cover tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate
- Preparing the Dipping Sauce: Mix all ingredients together and serve in individual or small serving bowls
- Frying the Scallion Pancakes: Heat a large sized nonstick pan on medium low heat, pour in 3 tablespoons canola oil, cook pancakes until golden then flip over and continue cooking until golden and hot through, remove to a paper towel lined plate, use a pizza cutter to cut pancakes into wedges. Continue to add a bit of oil as needed while frying
- Serve hot scallion pancakes alongside the Dipping Sauce
- Scallion pancakes may be frozen, not fried, packaged in a tightly lidded container between freezer paper, defrost pancakes in the refrigerator the day before using