Monday, July 12, 2010

Sesame Scallion Bread (Zhi Ma Da Bing)

So yesterday, just as we were about to leave for a hike at San Antonio Ranch, our neighbor came over and invited us to an impromptu Barbecue kickback (apparently two of the invitees were supposed to be set up during the occasion, which was why it was held in the first place). Mom immediately started brainstorming on what to bring and initially thought of her Chinese-Korean hybrid Japchae, but Dad told her it didn't exactly fit in with the theme of a Barbecue. So after much speculation, she settled on her no-fail recipe for Chinese sesame scallion bread or Zhi Ma Da Bing.

I actually got pretty excited at this because I've wanted to post a photo for the longest time. I'd honestly have to say that this is one of Mom's best masterpieces of all time. The food item itself is fairly simple, but this is one of those food items that depends more on skill than anything else.

Anyway, I'll honestly have to say that this recipe deserves 5 stars in difficulty. It is HARD, and chances are that anyone who attempts it will mess up the first few times (or more, as in my case heh heh...). But once you get it down, the results are well worth the effort. Plus, it's kind of cool when Mom brings it to parties, and people around her ask what restaurant she ordered from :)

Oh yea, before you start...MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD PAN! It should be fairly deep (maybe about 2-3 inches in depth) with an AIRTIGHT lid (Remember, airtight! This is how your bread is going to rise).

Sesame Scallion Bread (Zhi Ma Da Bing)


-3 cups flour
-1 cup warm water (we use 1/2 boiling and 1/2 cold)
-1 packet (2.5 tsp) instant yeast
-Salt to taste
-1 bunch scallions, chopped
-Lots of sesame seeds (for topping)

1. In the water, dissolve the yeast, mix, and leave to rest for about 2-3 minutes. It should start to foam a little on the surface; otherwise your yeast is defective.
2. Place the flour in a large bowl, then pour a little of the yeast water into it. Combine, adding a little more water each time you finish incorporating the last bit.
3. Knead until the dough is smooth and springy.
4. Cover and rest in a warm environment (Mom likes to turn up the oven to 350, then turn it off and let the dough sit inside. It sort of develops a crust from the residual heat, but Mom says that's okay.)
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle of about 1/2-inch thickness.The middle should be slightly thicker than the edges.
6. Brush one surface with a light coating of oil, but avoid the edges.
7. Sprinkle the green onions over the oiled surface, once again avoiding the edges. If you are really good, you can manage to get all of them in, but it's harder.
8. Gather the edges carefully like a bag, making pleats. Think maybe a Chinese bun? Pinch them all together very tightly so that the edges fuse together (the dough should still be sticky enough to do this).
9. Flatten the surface, then carefully flip the entire thing over.
10. Lightly coat the new surface with water, then sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
11. Turn over and repeat with the other side.
12. Fill your pan with a good coating of nonstick spray, then about 1-2 tbsp oil. Turn up the heat to medium, then carefully lay the bread into the pan.
13. Cover with the lid and leave alone for approximately 10 minutes (more or less, depending on your stove). Don't open the lid, no matter how tempted you are!
14. Carefully open the lid, and using a spatula, lift the bread a little to see the cooked side. It should be nicely browned (if it's too light, leave it be; if it's too dark...well you'll just get your bread extra crispy). It should be cooked enough that the pancake is firm and won't cave in if you lift an edge.
15. Once you are satisfied with the done-ness, flip the entire pancake over. This step is a little tricky, particularly if your pan is not big enough. Mom uses 2 spatulas to do this.
16. Close the lid, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the other side is crispy and golden as well.
17. Transfer to a plate, slice with a pizza cutter, and serve!


  1. Hi, I was wondering how long you leave the dough in the warm environment for? I am so excited to find this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Usually, I leave it in for about 30 minutes...that should be enough. I usually can tell it's done because if I poke my finger into the dough, it should been stretchy (because of the gluten developing)



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