Last week, I wrote about my obsession with pan-fried chive buns that developed on an eight-week trip across northeastern China.
Once I got home, I set about trying to recreate the buns that had captured my fancy on the streets of Beijing, Dandong, and Shenyang. With much trial and error, I adapted the following recipe from a cookbook I had brought back from China, with the cheerful title, “Welcome to the Flour Family.”
If you try it, please leave a comment and let us know how your chive buns turn out. I hope it will fuel your own chive bun obsession!
Pan-fried Chive Buns
For the dough:
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup boiling water
½ cup cold water
To make dough, put flour and salt into a food processor fitted with a coarse blade. Pulse once or twice to blend. Add oil; pulse to blend. Add boiling water; pulse to blend. Add cold water, and process briefly till dough forms. Remove dough, and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about 20 minutes. While dough rests, prepare the filling.
For the filling:
1 oz. mung bean threads (cellophane noodles)
4 oz. garlic chives
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sesame oil
Pepper to taste
½ tsp. vegetable oil
To make filling, soak bean threads in warm water until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain. Chop finely; you should have about ¾ cup. Gently wash chives and mince finely. Put chives into a large bowl and add bean threads, salt, sesame oil, and pepper. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Heat oil in a small frying pan, add eggs, and scramble till cooked but not dry, about 2-3 minutes. Let eggs cool slightly and add to the chive mixture.
To assemble the buns:
Roll dough into a tube shape, about 12 inches long. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Keeping the rest of the dough covered with a damp cloth, roll out one piece to a 5-inch round. Put ¼ cup chive filling in the center of the round. Fold dough in half to form a semicircle, pressing edges to seal. You can use a fork to press around the edges to make a tighter seal. Repeat with remaining dough.
To fry the buns:
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
Heat oils together in a wok or large heavy skillet over medium-high heat till hot but not smoking. Pan-fry buns 2 or 3 at a time until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200 degree oven. In China, these crisp golden breads are generally eaten plain, hot from the wok, but you could also dip them in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil.
Your chive buns may not look as lovely as these, but don’t worry. Asian food expert Andrea Nguyen took this photo of buns she made (they’re not filled with chives, but the process is similar). Check out her blog, Viet World Kitchen, for more Asian food ideas and for tips on frying buns.
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