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Chinese Toon Pancake

Layered Unleavened Chinese Flatbread Featuring Xiang Chun {香椿千层饼}

by Shirley
Chinese Toon Pancake Recipe

Chinese Toon Pancake, a layered unleavened flatbread featuring Xiang Chun {香椿}, is so naturally yummy and nutritious. Perfect for breakfast or a side dish.

Xiang Chun Qian Ceng Bing {layered flatbread} Recipe

What is Chinese Toon or Xiang Chun {香椿}?

Chinese Toon, also known as Toona Sinensis, red loon, Chinese mahogany, Chinese cedar, or beef and onion plant, is a deciduous tree native to China. Ancient Chinese people started harvesting the tender young leaves of the tree as a vegetable as early as Han Dynasty {206 B.C. to 220 A.D.).

Its Chinese Name “Xiang Chun” {香椿}, literally translates as “the fragrance of the Spring”, is so well-said about this superfood tree. During spring, the tender reddish new leaves shoot out which have a sharp, appetizing aroma and taste. It is absolutely a season-fresh delicacy.

Xiang Chun {toona sinensis} tender leaves growing in early spring
Xiang Chun Tree Growing in our Backyard

Chinese Toon Health Benefits

Xiang Chun, especially the tender reddish young leaves, is loaded with many essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It is rich in powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxing substances.

A word of caution though, the mature green leaves contain a high level of nitrate, which can interfere with the body’s ability to intake oxygen if consumed in excess amount. Blanching the mature green leaves in boiling water briefly can help mitigate this issue.

Read more here about this amazing plant.

How to make Chinese Toon Pancake?

This recipe is inspired by my Chinese traditional scallion pancake recipe, which is light, refreshing, and tasty. Simply swamp out the green onion with chopped & light salted Xiang Chun tender leaves.

Cong You Bing Scallion Pancakes {Delicious Healthy Way}
Cong You Bing Scallion Pancakes {Delicious Healthy Way}

Tip No.1 is to make the dough and let it rest

Make a soft dough using organic all-purpose flour, avocado oil, a pinch of Himalayan pink salt, and room temperature water.

how to make Chinese Toon Pancake 1/3

Tip No.2 is to prepare the filling

The filling is coming from two components. The first component is an oil-based paste by whisking all-purpose flour and avocado oil together.

The second component is the Chinese Toon itself. If you are using very tender leaves, just chopped them into small pieces and then toss them with a tiny bit of salt. If you are using more mature leaves, then blanch them briefly in boiling water, rinse in cold water, and squeeze the extra water out before doing this.

how to make Chinese Toon Pancake 2/3

Tip No.3 is to roll the pancake to contain the filling and create a layered texture

Roll the dough into long cylinders and then cut it into equal portions. Each portion weighs about 80 grams. For each portion, knead the dough inward and then roll it into a long sheet. Brush it with the oil-based paste filling and then add the chopped Xiang Chun {Chinese Toon}.

The rolling technique is exactly the same as the traditional scallion pancake. See here for a detailed step-by-step tutorial.

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Last but not least is to grill the rolled pancake on a cast iron griddle

This is also the same way as grilling the traditional Chinese scallion pancake. In the beginning, when the cast iron griddle is still getting warmed up, it may require 1 min on each side. As the cooking goes on and the griddle gets heated up, it will take less time. For instance, perhaps 30 seconds on each side will be sufficient.

Pan-Fry Cong You Bing {葱油饼}
Chinese Toon Pancake Recipe

Chinese Toon Pancake Recipe

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Chinese Toon Pancake, a layered unleavened flatbread featuring Xiang Chun {香椿}, is so naturally yummy and nutritious. A seasonal delicacy when tender Chinese Toon leaves are available.

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 660 g all-purpose flour, organic unbleached preferred, about 4 cups
  • 30 g avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 350 g water, approximate, see notes

For the Filling:

  • 4 tbsp avocado oil
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour, organic unbleached preferred
  • a bunch of tender Chinese toon leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

Instructions

Make the Dough:

  • Gather ingredients for the dough.
    Dough Ingredients
  • Place the empty mixing bowl on the kitchen scale. Press "TARE", measure 660 g organic all-purpose flour, and press "TARE" again to add 30 g avocado oil. Lastly, add 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt. Remove the mixing bowl from the scale.
  • Place an empty 2-cup measuring glass on the kitchen scale. Press "TARE" and measure out 350 grams of water.
  • Make a well in the middle of the mixing bowl, and gradually add the water while mixing and kneading until forming a soft dough. Depending on the humidity level of the environment, you may not need the entire 350 g of water, or you may need a little bit of extra water. Go slow, add a little bit of water at a time, and then knead, pull apart the dough and press it together before adding more water.
    Make the Dough
    Form a Soft Dough
  • Cover the mixing bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 1-2 hours.

Make the Filling:

  • Add avocado oil, all-purpose flour, and 1/2 tsp salt into a small bowl, and whisk well using a mini whisk until fully blended into a paste.
  • For the Chinese toon, if they are young reddish tender leaves, you can chop them directly into fine pieces after washing & rinsing them. If they are somewhat mature green leaves, I recommend blanching them in boiling water briefly, then rinsing them in the cold water before chopping them into fine pieces. Place the chopped Chinese toon in a bowl and toss it with the remaining 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt and set aside.

Roll Chinese Toon Pancake:

  • Roll the dough into a long cylinder and cut it into 12 equal portions, each portion is about 80 g.
    roll dough into long cylinder shape
  • For each portion, knead the dough inward, and use both hands to press & organize it into a thick flat slab.
    Press the dough using two hands
  • Use a rolling pin to roll it into a thin flat sheet.
    Flatten the Dough
  • Ggenerously brush the oil-based paste filling over the flat sheet and then sprinkle finely chopped Chinese toon.
    apply oil-flour paste and add chopped Chinese Toon
  • Starting from one end and rolling the flat sheet into a scroll.
    Roll the Flat Sheet into a Roll
  • Turn the scroll 90-degree, gently press down using your hands, and then use the rolling pin to flatten it.
     Turn the Roll 90-degree
    Press Down the Rolled Dough to Flat
  • Once again, start from one end and roll it into a scroll and then stand it up on the countertop. Note this dough scroll is much shorter than the previous scroll. Gently hold and press the scroll using two hands to ensure that the outer layer is together with the core.
    Stand the Dough Sheet Roll Up
  • Use one hand to press it down or both hands to press it flat into a round disk.
    Press Down the stand-up Roll
    Turn into a Round Disk
  • Use a rolling pin to flatten it into a thin round sheet.
    freshly rolled Chinese Toon Pancake
  • Hooray, one Chinese Toon Pancake is rolled! Repeat to complete the rest.

Grill the Chinese Toon Pancake:

  • Turn the heat to medium and heat a 10.5-inch cast iron griddle for 2 minutes.
  • Place one Chinese Toon Pancake flat onto the griddle and cook for 1 minute or till the edge is slightly browned.
  • Flip the pancake using a flexible slotted turner and cook the other side for another 1 minute.
  • As you continue, the cast iron is getting heated up more, you will need less time for cooking on each side, for instance, 30 seconds on each side.
  • Repeat till you have done cooking all pancakes. Please note you can continue the rolling while tendering the cast iron griddle at the same time. I usually roll out 2 pancakes on the dough matt in advance.
  • Enjoy a super healthy, nutritious, and naturally yummy Xiang Chun Pancake.
    Xiang Chun Pancake

Notes

  • The water required depends highly on the humidity level of the environment. I have used as much as 370 g of water during Chicago's dry winter, and as little as 330 g during the humid summer.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 234Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 221mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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