Makes 6 medium pancakes
Jian Bing - I call it the holy grail of pancakes. During our time in Shanghai, I had this “dosai look-alike” for the first time at one of my trips to the local wet market. I had just started learning Putonghua and would often venture out to practice my language skills with the locals. One bite of this golden beauty and I was convinced this was going to be my favorite breakfast for life, even though my stomach never got used to the amount of La Jiao Jiang brushed on it. Thereafter, our wonderful driver Peter would bring me this spicy breakfast treat at least once a week. At the migrant village where he resided, hawker chefs from Shandong province dotted every street corner with their pitch black cast iron skillets sat on huge gas fires. Every morning, hundreds of crispy mung bean and wheat flour crepes were slathered with fresh eggs and black sesame on one side, and sweet-spicy sauce and herbs on the other. The icing on the cake was the savory, crispy pastry that these crepes were wrapped around; a burst of beautiful flavors and textures in every bite.
Took me three long years of craving it but I finally made it and I did it in style - presenting my sourdough discard “Jian Bing”. Luckily, I managed to find most ingredients at Fairprice Finest, and we devoured these golden beauties two days in a row. I have used sourdough discard in the recipe below which imparted a pleasant tang to the dish, but you can go the traditional way and use regular AP flour. Enjoy the recipe!
P.S. I shared a pancake with my Shanghainese neighbor and she said it took her back to her school days in China - that’s how good these turned out.
Jian Bing Recipe Video
Note: To achieve a non-stick surface on your cast-iron pan, halve an onion and stick a fork through the skin on the outside, then rub the flat open end of the flesh all over the pan. Repeat the process as often as necessary.
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Payal Thakurani is a cooking instructor, consulting chef, and author of the popular Southeast Asian cookbook “Curries for the Soul”. Originally based in Shanghai China, chef Payal has been in the food industry since 2012, working in training and brand development in central kitchens. She was also the proud owner of a cooking school and several food brands in Shanghai. She now lives in Singapore and heads Commune Kitchen in Downtown Gallery, where she hosts affordable, hands-on cooking classes for all ages.