The Jianbing is a pancake of contrasts, a comforting marriage of opposing textures and
flavours, famously flipped on China’s streets in under 5 minutes. As I queue behind the suits
at Pret this morning, I imagine the Chinese similarly hovering impatiently behind one
another for their beloved morning snack. The irony is you could buy 10 Jianbing pancakes
for the same price as your 5 sip flat white.
The Jianbing pancakes are made on a huge iron crepe maker stationed in a hole in the wall.
When your turn comes there are some selections to be made, spicy or not, meat or not. But
what remains consistent is the crunchy crepe smothered in soft scrambled yolk, topped with
sharp spring onions, pickles, sweet hoisin sauce and the glorious salty fried crunchy bit in
the middle. It’s that satisfying crunch we’re searching for when we recreate it in the kitchen.
Makes 4: 150g plain flour, sunflower oil, ½ cup water, ½ cup milk, pinch salt
Per pancake: 1 egg, 1 tsp thinly sliced spring onion, 1 tsp chopped coriander, 1 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tsp Lao Gan Ma Black Bean Chilli Sauce, 2 square wonton wrappers deep fried
Mix the flour, oil, water and milk to make a thick batter, add a pinch of salt.
Heat 5mm of sunflower oil in a wok on high heat and deep fry the wonton wrappers until darker in colour and really crispy, drain, sprinkle with sea salt and set aside.
Then heat a non-stick pan, lightly brush sunflower oil over it. When the pan is really hot ladle some mixture around the pan in a very thin layer, using a flat spatula to move the batter around. Don’t worry if some holes appear, leave to cook for 1 minute before cracking a whole egg onto it, this will fill any holes. Move the egg around the pancake so it is scrambled on top and wait for it to cook. Once hardened and the bottom is beginning to brown, spread the hoisin and chilli sauce on top with the back of a spoon, toss on some chopped spring onions and coriander and lay the fried wonton wrappers down the middle. Roll up your Jianbing, remove from the pan, chop in half – and listen for that crunch.