Fried Spiral Pancake (金丝饼) [Asian 258 Student contribution]
Today, my mom taught me to make jinsi bing (金丝饼) – Chinese fried spiral pancake. Remember that Miranda told us that bing (饼) has long existed in China, though the main ingredient, wheat, was not native to China. One modern variant of the bing is jinsi bing (金丝饼) – literally meaning “golden thread pancake.” It’s also called qiansi wanlü (千丝万缕), meaning “countless threads.” This name refers to its long, numerous spirals, which can be pulled out. It’s the result of centuries of experimentation and innovation.
The ingredients are the same as those for the standard bing. We made several different kinds of bing with one big kneaded dough. 600g of wheat flour yielded about 7 pieces of bing (though this will depend on how big you want them to be). This time, 2 of them were jinsi bing (my mom made the first one, and I made the second). The ingredients are below:
For the dough:
Unbleached wheat flour: 600g
Water at around 60 degree Celsius: 240g
For the You Su (油酥), which prevents the layers or threads of dough from sticking together:
Unbleached wheat flour: 30g
Vegetable oil: 30g
First, we made a dough by mixing the ingredients at the top together. We put all of the ingredients into a breadmaker and set it to dough setting. You can also knead the dough by hand, cover it in plastic wrap, and leave it for about 1 hour to rise.
Meanwhile, we made the You Su. We heated the vegetable oil in a pan. Once it became hot (at least around 90 degree Celsius), we poured it into a small bowl with wheat flour. We mixed the ingredients well and reserved for later use.
Once the dough was ready, we separated it into 7 pieces for the 7 pieces of bing. We prepared a clean surface and a rolling pin. To prevent the dough from sticking to the surface, pin, or hands, we sprinkled additional flour. We rolled one piece of the dough at a time with the rolling pin.
Here I’ll describe the specific recipe for jinsi bing. For jinsi bing, the ideal shape would be a rectangle, but it’s okay as long if it’s even, thin, and not too far from a rectangle. Then we poured about 1/7 of the You Su onto the dough and used a spatula (optional) and our hands to spread it evenly on the entire surface of the dough.
Then, we folded the rectangle along the long side into a trifold, and cut the middle part into multiple thin threads (WARNING: don’t cut all the way to the two ends! Leave about 3-5 cm at the ends for holding with your hands).
Next, we carefully held the two ends and stretched them so that the threads became longer and thinner. Don’t use too much force – my mom has broken the threads! But don’t worry too much if it breaks – you can still make it delicious. The stretching part is similar to stretching noodles, and you can stretch them one half at a time. If you’re afraid it will break, hold the midpoint and one end, carefully stretch, and repeat for the other half.
After that, we put the threads on the clean surface again. Starting with one end, we folded the whole thing into a spiral, bit by bit, and we hid the other end at the bottom to make it look good. We pressed the spiral with our hands to flatten. This made it easier for us to roll it one last time.
We rolled the flat spiral with the rolling pin evenly again, to make it into a bigger thinner pie. Ensure that your final product is even before it goes into the pan, otherwise the thin part will be burnt before the thick part is cooked.
Finally, we heated a pan and greased the bottom with some vegetable oil, and fried the thin spiral dough with high heat. We flipped it when the bottom was spotted with golden brown, and repeated for the other side. We flipped it a few more times to ensure that the surface enlarged through exposure to the air. That was when the bing was ready!
You can lift a thread and unravel the spiral. The slightly brown surface is crispy, while the inside is soft and al dente. Don’t leave it too long, otherwise the moisture would ruin the crunchy threads. If you like, you can eat it with some sugar, honey, or anything else! The threads of our product still stuck a little bit to each other, so we suggest that you make more You Su if you want a more perfect spiral. Also, the ideally thin, even threads take a lot of practice -- we’ll practice more and see if we can make some progress!