Cong you bing revisited

Cong you bing revisited

I have not been sleeping well at all. My bed has once again become that magical place where I suddenly remember everything I was supposed to do that day, but didn’t. And I know that once I crawl out from beneath that white duvet I will once again, in a foggy haze of procrastination, forget everything that I vowed to do in the wee hours of the morning. So I have taken to sleeping with a pen and notepad next to my bed so that I can jot down things in the dark as I remember them and clear them from my mind. This hasn’t worked as well as you would think. Upon waking this morning I found a message to myself reminding me to “Char doc squikle skorf”. While I don’t think this was intended to be an inspired grill idea, it did remind me that I still need to post my cong you bing recipe. I have adapted the recipe from one found at Traditional Chinese Recipes to more closely resemble the thin and crispy pancakes that our local vendor made. It is essential that you make the dough two days before you intend to use it to allow the gluten to bind. This is a great recipe to use when doing a Mongolian grill and everyone can get their hands dirty cooking their own (in which case most of the pancakes will, in all likelihood,  be wonky, a little burnt and the object of much ridicule).

Cong you bing


300g all purpose flour

6 spring onions, leafy green parts finely chopped (you can reserve the chopped whites and use in the paste)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tb vegetable oil

115g of boiling water (yes, grams Heston)

70g of cold water

spicy basting paste

Add the boiling water to the flour and stir. When it is well incorporated, add the cold water and continue mixing until it is smooth. You will have a very wet dough. Oil your hands and collect the dough into a ball. Place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and allow to stand for two days or so.

With oiled hands, turn the dough out on to a smooth, oiled surface and flatten into a rectangle approximately 1cm thick. Sprinkle with the salt and spring onions and press them into the dough. Fold the dough in half and press down to 1 cm thick again. Rub the surface of the dough with your oiled hands, fold and press down again. Do this four or five times so that you layer the dough with oil and spring onions, similar to what you would do with puff pastry. Now grab a hand full of dough (a little bigger than the size of a golf ball) and roll it out with an oiled roller till you have a disk about 2mm thick. It’s a little slippery and tricky, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. If a hole appears, don’t worry about it.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil. (If you haven’t noticed by now, this is not Weigh Less and enough oil in the pan is essential or it’ll taste yuck.) Lay the pancake in the oil, away from you. Cook until lightly browned and then flip it over. Brush with the paste, cook the other side until browned and then flip back for 5 more seconds, just to heat the paste through. The sugar in the paste will burn if you leave it too long. Serve cut into rectangular slices.

For the spicy basting paste:

2 onions, very finely chopped

chopped fresh red chillies to taste

80ml oil

15ml paprika

10ml cumin

20ml coriander

4T sweet chilli sauce (pretty sure the Chinese don’t use this, but it works!)

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onions. Cook slowly until they begin to caramelise. Add the chillies and spices and continue cooking until the whole mixture turns into a gloriously, jammy, paprika hued concoction. Add the sweet chilli sauce and cook for a few more minutes. You’ll be left with a jammy oil that is perfect for basting your cong you bing.

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