Monday, November 10, 2014

I love the sound of crunch in the morning...

Popular all over the coastal north, these breakfast rolls probably are most beloved in the port of Tianjin. These offer all sorts of pleasures, both in terms of flavor and texture. A slight sweetness offsets the tang of the chili sauce, but these form little more than a gentle background for the main attractions: a chewy crêpe-like wrapper, a crunchy fried cruller, a fried egg (see the vegan option below), and a crispy leaf of lettuce. 

Perfection — even early in the morning — can easily be achieved.
Ready to roll

Tianjin breakfast rolls
Jiānbǐng guǒzi 煎餅果子
Tianjin, Beijing, & Hebei
Serves 4
cup Chinese or Korean flour (or two-thirds all-purpose plus one-third pastry flour)
cup mung bean flour
¾ cup cool water, or as needed
Peanut or vegetable oil
Wheat & mung bean flours

The rest:
1 Chinese cruller (youtiao), fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili sauce (page TK)
1 tablespoon sweet wheat paste
½ teaspoon sugar
4 large eggs, optional
1 green onion, finely chopped
4 large leaves lettuce (something crunchy like romaine is good)

Edges curling up
1. Mix the flours together in a large (1 quart, or so) measuring cup. Use a whisk to stir in enough cool water—about 1 cup—to form a thick, pancake-like batter. Let the batter rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Cut the cruller in half lengthwise and crosswise so that you have four pieces. Heat it in a 300°F oven (a toaster oven is perfect) until it is crispy.

3. Heat the sesame oil in a wok and add the chili sauce, sweet wheat paste, and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding whichever more ingredient you want to emphasize. Scrape the sauce into a small work bowl.

Chinese cruller
4. Set a nonstick flat pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, dip a paper towel in some of the oil and wipe it all over the inside of the pan. Gently stir the batter and pour ¼ of it into the pan (about cup batter), swirling the pan around with the other hand so that the bottom becomes evenly covered. Adjust the heat as needed to slowly cook the wrapper. As soon as the top is more or less set and the edges start to curl up, crack an egg on top, use your spatula to break it up and spread it over the wrapper, sprinkle on ¼ of the green onions, cover the pan, and continue to slowly cook the wrapper. When the egg is set, flip it over for a couple of seconds to cook it through, then flip it back over, and brush ¼ of the sauce over the top. Place a lettuce leaf and one piece of cruller on top. Remove the wrapper from the pan and roll it up like a burrito. Serve this one immediately and start to work on the other three. These can be sliced in half or quarters, if desired.


An egg is traditionally added to these wrappers, but vegans can omit it. Instead, sprinkle the green onions on the batter before it sets so that they stick to the pancake. 

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