Beef Xian Bing – 牛肉餡餅
These little delicacies are a northern Chinese specialty. The word ‘Bing’ refers to a wide range of flat, usually unleavened, wheat ‘cakes’ and the word ‘Xian’ specifically indicates that this cake is ‘stuffed’ or ‘filled’. Mostly, the filling is some sort of meat or other, so you can basically think of these treats as ‘Chinese Meat Pies’. Here, I am using Beef, along with a little Leek, to fill my ‘pies’, hence the – 牛肉 (niu rou) prefix to the Chinese characters for Xian Bing (餡餅).
Making the Dough for Beef Xian Bing
The dough for these little cakes is nothing more than the same, simple wheat flour dough used to make dumpling wrappers, Asian wheat noodles, and your basic pasta dough in Italian cookery. In the above picture, you can see a ball of dough made with one cup of all-purpose flour. For this recipe, you will need to make double the amount (that is, with two cups of flour). If you like, you can follow my recipe for my Basic Dumpling Wrapper Dough.
Making the Filling
The first actual cooking step involves frying the leek component of the filling. The leek is finely chopped and then briefly fried just until it softens. This will not only add a second flavor to the cakes, but a nice textural contrast as well.
The leek, once cooled, gets stirred into the beef along with Garlic paste, Oyster Sauce, and Soy Sauce, plus salt and pepper for seasoning. The filling is not merely quickly ‘mixed’ together, but should be stirred vigorously in one direction until it becomes sticky. A little cornstarch is added to the blend as well, as this keeps the filling nicely moist during cooking.
Forming the Beef Xian Bing
The dough recipe used here will make about 8 or 10 Xian Bing. Divide your dough into portions accordingly and roll each portion out to make round disks a little wider than your hand (or about 5 to 6 inches in diameter).
To form the cakes, just place about three tablespoons of filling on each rolled out circle of dough and then gather the edges of the dough over the top. You can do this by simply folding the edges together, but a much more attractive cake will result if you ‘pleat’ the dough, as shown above.
Above, you can see an almost finished pleated ‘cake’. The appearance is very much like a large Xiao Long Bao, or ‘Soup Dumpling’ , at this point.
The basic ‘cake’ form is completed by turning the filled dough over so the enclosure is on the underside, and then gently pressing it flat so it becomes a nice, plump ‘round’, rather like a pancake.
Cooking the Cakes
The Xian Bing are cooked in a pan, or on a griddle, with just a little oil. Each cake needs to be cooked, at moderate heat, for about four minutes on each side until the filling is cooked through, and the surfaces are a nice golden color.
Serving the Beef Xian Bing
The cakes can be served hot right from the pan along with a dipping sauce of your choice. In the very first picture, you can see three ‘cakes’ being served with my choice of dipping sauce, which, on that occasion, was hot English Mustard mixed with a little White Vinegar instead of Water.
The cakes can also be cooled, stored for a few days in the refrigerator, and then later reheated for service. Alternatively, you can also eat them cold, which I like personally, even if it isn’t especially traditional.
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Beef Xian Bing – 牛肉餡餅
- Basic Dumpling Dough made with 2 cups of flour See Notes;
- 1/2 lb. Lean Ground Beef;
- ½ cup chopped Leek;
- 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch;
- 1 tsp. Pepper;
- 1 pinch Salt;
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic Paste;
- 1 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce;
- 1 tsp. Soy Sauce;
- Heat a little oil in a pan and briefly saute the leek until it is just soft. Remove from the heat and allow it to coo
- Mix together the beef, leek and all the remaining filling ingredients. Stir until the mixture becomes sticky.
- Divide the dough into 8 to 10 portions.
- Roll each dough portion out into a 5” to 6” disk, top with three tablespoons or so of filling, then gather the edges of the dough over the top of the filling (pleating if desired), and pinch to close.
- Turn each filled dough portion over and flatten out to form a nice, round ‘cake’.
- When ready to cook, heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat and fry the cakes for about 4 minutes or so on each side and remove to a plate.
- Serve the cakes hot (or cool) with a dipping sauce of choice.