The Modern Twist on Traditional Jian Bing

July 18, 2023

While my weekdays might start with a quick cereal bowl or toast slice, the weekend’s allure often calls for something more indulgent. Inspired by our family’s Skype catch-ups from Beijing, where they tempt us with their enticing traditional Jian Bing breakfast, I find myself craving a touch of that here at home. As a result, my Saturday mornings often embark on a culinary adventure, bringing a modern twist on traditional Jian Bing.

Recall the reminiscence about “The JianBing Odyssey” in one of my initial posts, that revelatory encounter with Shanghai’s street food. My spin on this traditional jian bing recipe incorporates a scallion pancake (acquired from a store) instead of the conventional thin crepe-like batter. The rationale? Simplifying the process without compromising the essence— not everyone has the luxury of time!

I’ve also opted for a spicy bean sauce as an alternative to the original jian bing’s blend of sweet bean paste and chili oil, achieving a flavor profile that is strikingly similar.

For the adventurous foodies, go all out and nestle a crispy you tiao (a Chinese fried dough readily available in the refrigerated section of any Chinese grocery store) in the center, akin to our Shanghai delight.

I’ve chosen to forego it in favor of maintaining a semblance of a healthy profile (although my silhouette these days may suggest otherwise). You can stash them in the freezer and toast as needed. Can’t get your hands on scallion pancakes? Fret not, you can whip up your own batch easily with Sarah’s recipe.

Jian bing, an iconic Chinese street food, is strangely absent from American Chinatowns. In my experience, it’s rarely seen fresh off the stove in any Chinatown I’ve visited. So, let’s embark on this culinary journey. This is a dish you’ll undoubtedly want to add to your breakfast arsenal.


  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons scallions (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 frozen scallion pancake (any brand is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon spicy bean sauce (dou ban jiang)


  1. Kick-start by breaking the egg into a bowl and beating it with a fork. Set it aside. Proceed with chopping the scallion and cilantro.
  2. Despite its simplicity, the process can be swift once the stove is on, so have your ingredients at arm’s length. Drizzle the oil into a nonstick pan over medium heat. Position the frozen pancake in the pan and cook briefly, roughly 15 seconds, then flip it over. This helps to evenly distribute the oil on both sides, eliminating the need to add more.
  3. As an optional step, feel free to have an old Labrador loitering around the oven.
  4. Allow the pancake to cook until it starts taking on a lovely golden hue. Cook one side a tad longer till it achieves a rich golden brown color.
  5. Lift the pancake using a spatula or chopsticks and pour the egg into the pan. Swirl the egg evenly across the pan and return the pancake into the pan with the more cooked side touching the egg. Allow it to cook for another half a minute.
  6. Flip the pancake so the egg side faces up. Spread your spicy bean sauce uniformly over the egg with a spoon. Then sprinkle the cilantro and scallion evenly atop. By now, the bottom of your pancake should be beautifully browned.
  7. To conclude, switch off the heat and shift the pancake onto a chopping board. (Avoid my mistake of rolling the pancake in the pan while the oil is searing hot, which can cause some pain…) Carefully roll the hot pancake using chopsticks, akin to a cinnamon roll or jelly roll. Slice into segments using a sharp knife.

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