I first tried this Xi’an stuffed pancake at a street vendor in Xi’an, and as soon as I crunched into the crunchy delight, I knew I wanted to add it to our collection of recipes. This dish consists of a roll of crispy pancakes filled with pork and cabbage seasoned with spices.
One of the highlights of our street food trip was observing the vendors as they prepared this tasty delicacy. At 10 RMB (about $1.50) per the Xi’an China tourist fee for these appetizers, the experience they provided more than paid for themselves.
It looks easy because these street cooks are cranking them out as rapidly as the customers can get in line. Despite its apparent simplicity, it took me four trials before I felt comfortable posting the stuffed recipe. Much experimentation led to a product nearly indistinguishable from the real thing but with a slight reduction in oiliness. Which is always a positive thing to have happen!
This recipe yields eight filled pancakes.
For the Dough:
- 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup of water
- ½ tsp. of salt
For the Filling:
- 1 cup of ground pork(or ground lamb, beef, or chicken)
- ½ tsp. of five spice powder
- 1/8 tsp. of cumin
- 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
- 1/8 tsp. of sugar
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 1 cup of green cabbage (finely chopped)
- 1 scallion (chopped)
- 1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
- 1 tsp. of sesame oil
- 1/8 tsp. of white pepper
- 2 tbsp. of sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup of oil (for frying)
- The first step is to prepare the dough. A dough can be made by combining flour, water, and salt in a mixing basin. Spend at least five minutes kneading the dough. Put aside and rest under a moist dishtowel.
- The next step is to prepare the filling. Mix the pork, five spice, cumin, soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Mix the shredded cabbage, scallions, garlic powder, sesame oil, and white pepper in a separate bowl.
- You can now start putting together the pancakes. Divide the dough into 8 equal sections and keep the unused dough covered with a moist towel. Next, lightly oil your work area (a bamboo or wood cutting board works great for this) with a few drops of oil. Make a long, narrow rectangle out of one of the dough pieces, rolling it out to a width of approximately four inches. No need to make it flawless. Very lightly grease the dough and spread it on roughly an eighth of the meat mixture.
- Then, at one end, add 2 teaspoons of cabbage. Gently propel the dough forward like a snail. Then, turn it into a standing cylinder by standing it up on one end. Sprinkle the dough with sesame seeds after pressing it into a thin pancake (approximately 3/4 inch thick, with a diameter of about 3 1/2 inches). Don’t go running out and buying a tape measure to make sure, though; these are merely for reference.
- Next, heat a half cup of oil to around 300 degrees in a small cast-iron skillet or pan. Fry the pancakes (we did 3 at a time) until they are brown. To cook the opposite side, carefully turn the food over (about 3 minutes per side). When handling oil at high temperatures, exercise extreme caution.
- When they’re done, move them to a paper towel–lined platter. These pancake rolls are best served as soon as they come out of the pan, but they may also be put in the refrigerator or frozen and re-toasted in the oven.