Don't confuse this classic Chinese-style flatbread with its fluffy syrup-and-butter-kissed cousins. Scallion pancakes are a savory treat, pleasingly chewy and crisp, with a mild onion flavor. Combined with our Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce, they make a quick snack or a satisfying side or appetizer. In Asia, street vendors cook the pancakes on portable griddles, but your own kitchen can yield the same tasty result — and be your gateway to a fun culinary adventure.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt, then form the mixture into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the water, first filling the well, then pouring what remains around the sides of the bowl. Use a large spoon or rubber spatula to combine the ingredients into a soft, raggedy dough. If it doesn't pull together after about a minute of stirring, add water, one tablespoon at a time (up to 4), to help the dough take shape.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Working with floured hands, knead the dough until it's smooth and springy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Shape it back into a ball and set it aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
While the dough rests, prepare the scallions (teach your child how to chop scallions), then set them aside.
Roll the dough into a log. Halve it crosswise, then cut each half into three pieces. Place five of the portions in a large bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
Dust your hands and work surface with flour. Roll the sixth dough portion into a fairly round, 1/4-inch-thick pancake. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil onto the dough and spread it evenly over the pancake. Scatter 2 generous tablespoons of chopped scallion on top, leaving a 1-inch border.
Roll the pancake into a log.
Beginning at one end, wind the log into a spiral as if shaping a cinnamon roll, then tuck the loose end underneath. Use your palm to gently press the dough into a disk. Dust the dough lightly with flour, then roll it into a pancake 6 to 7 inches in diameter.
Warm a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat, then coat the pan with 1-1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Use a scallion slice to test the temperature of the oil. If it sizzles at once, the oil is ready for frying. If it doesn't, wait about 30 seconds and retest the oil with another scallion slice, repeating as necessary until the oil is hot.
Carefully lay the pancake in the skillet and fry it until its edges puff up and the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake, drizzle another 1/2 teaspoon of oil around the edges of the pan, and continue frying until the second side is golden brown, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pancake to a serving plate.
Repeat Steps 5 through 8 for each remaining dough portion. Serve the pancakes hot or warm, cut into quarters or sixths, and if you like, with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce. Makes 6 pancakes.