Shou Zhua Bing Chinese Pancakes

April 13, 2021 Updated: April 18, 2021

If this is your first time making Shou Zhua Bing, know that it’s a recipe that requires a bit of technique. Not to worry; with practice, you’ll soon be a master, so don’t be too hard on yourself if the first ones aren’t just right. Focus on one component at a time. The chewy, spicy layers of these pancakes are worth a try.

*The spices in this recipe can be substituted with 5-spice powder.

Difficulty: 4

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed or three star anise*
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper or whole peppercorns*
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger*
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove or 1 tablespoon whole clove*

For the Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup cold water

To Assemble

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
  • Salt (to taste)

Make the Flavored Roux

In a small saucepan over low heat, add the oil. Throw in the scallion pieces and all spices. Keep the pan over low heat for about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Pick out all the whole spices and scallions so you’re left with infused oil. Stir in the flour to create a thin roux. Set it aside and let it cool completely.

Make the Dough

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the flour and add the boiling water, mix until incorporated.

Gradually add the cold water and knead everything together to form a smooth dough ball. Try not to over-knead. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

To Assemble

Divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope with hands, and then use a rolling pin to roll it flat. Brush a thin layer of the roux all over the dough, and then sprinkle it sparingly with sesame seeds, chopped scallion, and salt.

Start on one end and roll the dough up. Stand the roll upright and press it down with your palm. Lightly roll out the resulting circle until you get a pancake that’s between 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. It’s OK if the outer edges break open a bit. Repeat for each pancake.

To Cook the Pancakes

Heat a pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon or two of oil. Place the pancake in the pan. Once the bottom starts to turn a little golden, add two teaspoons of water to the sides of the pan (don’t pour the water on the pancake), and immediately cover with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan, flip the pancake, and do the same steps with the other side.

To finish, uncover the lid again, turn up the heat slightly, and brown both sides while flipping the pancake occasionally. When it’s golden brown, use forks to squeeze and pinch the pancake a couple times to loosen the layers and create a flakier pancake, because you ideally want to see the layers when you hand-pull it apart. The cooked pancake should be crispy and slightly chewy.

Recipes and photos from “Pancakes Make People Happy” by Sharon Collins, Charlotte Collins, Courtney Wade. Published and copyrighted by Hatherleigh Press.