One of my favorite meals while I was growing up was savory Chinese pancake wraps (面饼) that my dad would make for us for dinner. It was one of the few things my dad liked to cook, and I remember him showing me how to make the batter and cook the pancakes on multiple occasions. An interesting tidbit about my dad: he never cooks except on rare occasions, but it was he that taught my mom how to cook after they got married! So everything my mom makes is really from my dad’s expertise, yet he never cooks around the house anymore. How oddball haha.
Anyway, Chinese pancakes are somewhat similar to crepes, except they are a bit thicker. The batter is very simple, made with just flour and water, along with some salt and sugar for a little bit of flavor. But for the most part, the flavor comes from the filling that you wrap into the pancakes – savory sauces and meats and crunchy vegetables. It’s a lot like eating Peking duck rolls, except the wrap isn’t dry like a tortilla. In my family, we make these pancake wraps for an easy dinner, and serve them with hot congee (rice porridge) on the side. We usually spread hoisin sauce on the pancakes, and then wrap in whatever meat that we feel like that day (often times we use pork sung, but also sometimes turkey ham or bologna… it really doesn’t matter). For the pancakes I made last night, I seared up some Chinese sausage for the meat filling, and cut up fresh cucumbers and onions for the vegetable. I really liked the refreshing crunch from the veggies and the Chinese sausage is so delicious and savory it rounds out the whole wrap.
Savory Chinese Pancake Wraps (makes approximately 6 pancakes – serves 2)
For the batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
8-10 oz. water
generous pinch of salt and sugar
For the fillings:
1-2 Chinese sausages
1/2 small onion
1. Place flour in a bowl, and make a small well in the middle. Pour in water all at once and stir quickly to dissolve flour. The batter should be liquid but slightly thick, like a cold heavy cream. Add water as necessary to get the right consistency. Try to minimize the number of lumps by crushing them to release the flour inside. Stir in salt and sugar.
2. Heat a skillet to medium high. Add a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Lift pan away from heating element and ladle about 1/2 cup of batter into the pan, tilting pan to rotate batter into a round shape (this takes practice, but it doesn’t matter if it’s misshapen, I promise :)
3. Cook pancake until the topside has lost most of its raw white color, and bottom is starting to just get a little bit golden in a few spots. Flip pancake and cook for a minute more – the bottom should have a bunch of round spots browning (see picture below for what the spots look like on the pancake). Flip again and cook the first side for another minute. Repeat with rest of the batter.
4. Slice up the Chinese sausage into short strips, and toss around in a clean skillet for a few minutes on medium heat until they start to release their oils and darken slightly in color. Slice the cucumber and onions into small strips as well, and place all the filling ingredients in separate plates for serving.
To serve: Take one pancake at a time, spread a teaspoon or two of hoisin sauce down the middle of the pancake in a long strip. Then lay a few strips of sausage, cucumbers, and onions down the pancake on the hoisin sauce. Roll up and eat :)