Syrup and whipped cream? Bisquick, please. There's so much more to pancakes than the sweet flapjacks we here in America eat for breakfast. Same goes for the paper-thin crepes the French are known for.
The street hawkers and single-dish-doling joints across Asia know what's up: There's a whole world of pancakes for all occasions and all meals—ranging from China's scallion pancakes, flaky and layered like a croissant, to banh xeo, a Vietnamese riff on crepes.
We've rounded up some of our favorite Asian pancake recipes, each as delicious as the next. Once you've made your slurry of eggs, flour and water, transform them into a lacy, airy, golden blank canvas for dressing up with cabbage, squid and a whole lot more. Go ahead and flip for these recipes:
① Okonomiyaki (see the recipe): The western part of Japan really has the consumer in mind with its cabbage- and bonito-bolstered pancake (pictured above). The name literally translates to "what you like, grilled," so there are countless variations across the island, but there are three prevailing styles. The classic Osaka style combines cabbage, eggs and some kind of pork in a floury mixture. It's then dumped into a pan and drizzled with a sweet tonkatsu-like sauce, Kewpie mayo and quivering bonito flakes. Hiroshima style dictates layering each ingredient like a cake and bookending it with oily noodles and a fried egg. And as usual, Tokyo does its own thing: Everything is grilled individually, then piled into a ring, conjoined by runnier slurry and devoured hot off the grill.
② Roti canai (see the recipe): These Indian-style flatbreads fill us with glee and need a lot of ghee (aka, clarified butter). A lovely gift from Indian immigrants who made their way to Malaysia during the British colonization of the country back in the 18th century, this tissue-thin pancake usually served at breakfast requires some patience and elbow grease. To make it, proofed dough is rolled out, folded and spreaded onto a big sheet using a complicated slapping method. After some time on a griddle, it's the perfect edible scoop for curries and other saucy dishes.
③ Pajeon (see the recipe): Every Korean pancake starts with a grainy, starchy batter base. But whether it's made with wheat, rice, tofu or even a mix of mung bean and rice determines that kind of jeon, or pancake, you're getting. Bindaetteok, the mung bean-rice kind filled with kimchi, was long considered the poor man's pancake, while meat or seafood-laced jeon was considered the royal court's grub and served as an essential course in ancestral ceremonies. However, these days you don't have to be royalty to enjoy pajeon, a rice and wheat-flour pancake brimming with tons of green onion. It's the perfect companion to Korean barbecue.
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