Have a bite of Spring! Let’s celebrate the beginning of the spring with these warm, soft and chewy pancakes, or Chunbings春饼 in Chinese. They look like a healthy take on burritos, with bits of carrot and cucumber poking out the end, and they’re flanked with a sign that urges you to “bite into spring” (咬春yǎo chūn). Spring pancakes traditionally serve on Lichun (立春), an occasion that falls on any day between 3rd to 5th of February, and marks the beginning of spring. It’s believed that once you “bite into spring,” you won’t feel tired for the rest of the season!
In keeping with their healthy, low-fuss character, chunbings are easy to make: simply mix flour, hot water, roll out the dough, and steam for 15 minutes. And you’re done! The pancakes are pliable and chewy, providing a toothsome contrast to the crunch of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Like other bings, chunbings can also be julienned and stir-fried to makechaobing (炒饼, fried pancake). Peking Duck pancakes are just a bit smaller version of the Chunbings. The wrapped and filled pancakes can also be fried and become spring rolls春卷.
Makes 15 pancakes and fillings
- 170g all-purpose flour 中筋面粉
- 95g hot water (70C°)
- 5 tablespoons cooking oil
2. Filling – Fried pork
- 250g pork loin or any lean part of the meat, julienne, thinly sliced into strings瘦猪肉切丝
- 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon corn starch淀粉
- 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce生抽
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons cooking oil
- ½ tablespoon ginger, minced姜末
- 1 spring onion minced葱花
- 2 tablespoons sweet bean paste甜面酱
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce老抽
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar, optional. Sugar helps balance the salty taste in case the sodium level in your store-bought sweet bean paste is too high.
- 1 tablespoon corn starch + 1 tablespoon water to make water starch to help thicken the meat sauce水淀粉
3. Filling – eggs and veggies
- ½ tablespoon,+ 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 eggs, beaten + 1/3 teaspoon, salt
- 100g, green bean sprout绿豆芽 + 100g chive韭菜 +1/3 teaspoon salt
- ½ carrot 半根胡罗卜, thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber半根黄瓜, thinly sliced
- Sichuan chili oil 红油, optional
- Place 170g all purpose-flour in a mixing bowl, gradually add 95g hot water and mix by using chopsticks until you see small flour bits搅成棉絮状. Then use your hand to mix the dough well. Knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes till smooth. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes. You can take a break or start slicing and preparation work for the fillings.
- Let’s make the pancakes now. If you have made homemade Chinese dumplings wrappers 饺子皮before, this would be easier for you as the techniques are pretty much the same. Roll the dough into a long ‘snake’ and divide it into 20 equal pieces. Simply use your hand to pick up each piece and pound in into the floured surface to make a small disc. Then use a rolling pin to smooth out each disc until it’s about 10cm in diameter – this would be a bit bigger than your dumplings wrappers.
- Brush a thin layer of cooking oil on both sides of each piece then stack them together. Remember you will want to the dough piece is entirely coated with oil. Do not miss a tiny part of it. Otherwise, your pancakes will be stuck together later. Use your palm to gently press down the dough stack to make sure they stick together nicely. Then place your rolling pin in the middle of the dough stack and gently smooth out the dough towards outside to make it bigger till about 15cm in diameter. Remember to work on the dough stack with even strength so your pancake will be consistent in thickness.
- Place the dough stack in a cheese cloth or parchment paper lined steam basket. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cover the basket and cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Once it is done. Turn off the heat or keep it to very low heat so the pancakes stay warm.
- In the meantime, let’s make the fillings. This is quite straightforward. Marinate pork slices with cooking wine, salt, soy sauce and corn starch. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add cooking oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook minced ginger and spring onions for 1-2 minutes, then pork slices. Fry the pork till it is pale, or almost cooked. Add 2 tablespoons of sweet bean paste, fry for a minute. Season the pork with dark soy sauce and caster sugar. Add water starch (by mixing starch and water in a small bowl). Stir fry for another 1 minute. Then move the pork in a serving bowl.
- Get another small clean frying pan over high heat, place ½ tablespoon of cooking oil. When the pan is really hot, pour into the beaten eggs. Tilt your frying pan or move around your frying pan to help the egg liquid evenly spread in the frying pan. Turn to small heat. Cook for a few minutes. Then flip it and cook the other side till done. Your egg sheets 蛋皮are ready. You can move them out and cut them into small strings when ready to serve. Add another ½ tablespoon of cooking oil in the same frying pan and stir fry chives and green bean sprout till done. Set aside.
- Now it is time to enjoy your spring pancake! Simply peel off one pancake (be a little gentle) from the pancake stack in the steam basket then wrap it your options of fillings. Remember that you always serve pancakes hot or at least very warm.