Green Onion Pancake at the Gain Wah Restaurant in Vancouver
Some of the best Chinese dishes I have had in Vancouver’s China town were at the very pleasant Gain Wah Restaurant. Their Green Onion Pancake was fried in quite a bit of oil and ended up being quite browned and perhaps not quite as pretty as others. Beyond that, though, while I am not entirely sure it was better than my own home-made ones, in terms of texture and taste it outshone those in many other restaurants.
The Green Onion Pancake is known as 蔥油餅 ( Cōng Yóubǐng) in Chinese, and is effectively translated as ‘Scallion Oil Cake’. The basic form involves rolled out rounds of simple flour and water dough that are brushed with oil, scattered with scallions, rolled up or folded, then rolled out flat again. Sometimes this is repeated more than once but the idea is that you create separate layers in the resultant ‘pancake’ so that it is light and flaky once cooked. There are two main styles, with one being quite thick and fried in a lot of oil (as is the case with the ones pictured above), and other thinner, more delicate ones griddle cooked with just a little oil.
The Green Onion Pancake at Gain Wah was nicely rolled, quite thick, and was clearly fried in a fair amount of oil. This latter quality was just a bit overdone in that the surface was a uniform, slightly oily brown as though it had been deep-fried. It wasn’t especially pretty in consequence, but it did give the pancake a good, crispy surface and the interior was properly flaky and light.
What made these particular Green Onion Pancakes stand out was the very bright burst of scallion flavor in each bite. Some recipes call for Sesame Oil to be used when rolling the dough to create layers, but I rather wondered if Gain Wah had perhaps used Scallion Oil here. I have not actually seen that done, and it would require a deft hand to avoid using to much oil, but the scallion infused flavor of the oil itself, and the original scallion sections, would certainly boost the flavor considerably. In any event, when it came to texture and flavor, the Gain Wah Green Onion Pancake was extremely well-executed.