Inspired by a street stall we ate at in Xi’an, I knew the minute I sank my teeth into this crispy treat that I had to add this stuffed pancake to our recipe collection. It’s a layered, rolled, crispy pancake with spiced pork and cabbage in the middle.
Watching the vendors put this snack together was one of the best parts of our street food experience. For the China tourist price of 10 RMB each (about $1.50), and the entertainment value of the experience, these snacks were a bargain!
These street cooks really make it look easy; they were making them as fast as people were lining up for them. Though the recipe seems simple, it took me four tries until I was confident enough to post the recipe. Lots of trial and error, but the end product is pretty comparable to the real thing, if a little less oily. Which is always a good thing!
(Update: We didn’t make this recipe halal, but you can certainly do so by substituting the pork for a halal meat of your choice!)
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 8 pancakes
For the dough:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 1 cup ground pork (or ground lamb, beef, or chicken)
- ½ teaspoon five spice powder
- Pinch of cumin
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 cup finely chopped green cabbage
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Pinch of white pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup oil for frying
Start by making the dough. Add the flour, water, and salt to a mixing bowl and mix until it forms a dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Set aside and cover with a damp kitchen towel to rest for at least 30 minutes but an hour is better if you have the time.
Then make the filling components. In a small bowl, combine the pork, five spice, cumin, soy sauce, pinch of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, combine the cabbage, scallion, garlic powder, sesame oil, and white pepper.
Now you’re ready to assemble the pancakes. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and keep the unused dough covered with a damp towel. Next, use a couple drops of oil to lightly oil your work surface–a bamboo or wood cutting board works well. Roll one of the dough pieces into a long, thin rectangle about four inches wide.
No need to make it perfect. Very lightly oil the dough and spread on about an eighth of your pork mixture. Then add about 2 tablespoons cabbage to one end.
Roll the dough forward into a cylinder.
Then stand it on one end so it’s a standing cylinder. Press the dough down into a flat pancake (about 3/4 inch thick, with a diameter of about 3 1/2 inches) with one hand and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. These measurements are just meant to give you a general idea so no need to get out any tape measures!
Next, pour ½ cup oil into a small cast iron skillet or pan and heat to about 300 degrees. Place pancakes into the pan (we did 3 at a time) and fry until golden. Carefully flip and fry on the other side (about 3 minutes per side). Always be extra careful when working with hot oil.
When golden brown, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. These pancake rolls are best eaten as soon as they come out of the pan, but they can also be placed in the refrigerator or even frozen and re-toasted in the oven.