Taiwanese Scallion Beef Roll Recipe
Have you guys ever had Taiwanese beef rolls? Essentially, they’re flaky, crispy green onions pancakes wrapped around tender braised beef with hoisin sauce, cucumbers, and cilantro. Sweet and savory, with a hint of freshness from the cucumber and cilantro, they’re an extremely satsifying snack and a classic order at bubble tea/boba places.
I don’t eat them that much anymore, but for a time, Taiwanese beef rolls were an absolute staple. It was the summer after college and my friends and I, in an attempt to hold on to a carefree, freewheeling lifestyle for a while, started a late night mahjong club. We were all working crappy jobs that we didn’t really care about rolling into on little to no sleep, so we would regularly meet up at 10pm and play MJ into the wee hours of the night.
We would always get take out bubble tea and beef rolls. Sometimes we’d do pizza instead, but when I think of those nights there was always bubble tea and more often than not, beef rolls. Thinking back, I can hear the clink of green and white MJ tiles, the sound of some random retro God of Gamblers movie on in the background, and so so many laughs. I distinctly remember one of my friends saying, “this is too fun, this isn’t going to last, one of us is going to get a real job soon.” Thanks for ruining it Amy, because it was true, someone got a “real job” and the rest of us soon followed. Even though we tried to keep it up, the summer of mahjong, bubble tea, and beef rolls was over.
Anyway, I’m not sure if I don’t eat beef rolls anymore because I don’t visit Taiwanese/bubble tea places a lot anymore or if the nostalgia of eating them will put me in an existential crisis. Regardless, a couple of weeks ago, Mike and I were watching Youtube and I noticed the Youtuber made green onion pancakes differently. Typically, most recipes that I’ve seen (and made) go like this: make the dough, rest the dough, roll the dough, brush on oil/fat, sprinkle on green onions, roll up, flatten, then fry. The video showed exact same steps with a key difference: instead of brushing on oil/fat, they brushed on a oil-flour mix. That got me curious and I went deep into googling green onion pancakes.
Apparently, in order to get more fat into the pancakes, making an oil and flour mixture helps because just oil will seep out. More fat means more flakey: the layers of fat in between the rolls help the pancakes fluff up and separate, much like how butter is put in between layers for laminated doughs for croissants and the like. You can check out this video because it shows it much better than I can explain.
After all that googling, I had a hankering for green onion pancakes and I thought, why not blast myself into the past and make beef rolls. They were delicious: crispy, flaky, sweet, and savory. I braised the beef the night before and made the pancakes the next day, in an attempt to have a “fast” version of this. If you do a bit of planning (you can even form the pancakes and freeze them), you can have a somewhat instant snack. Instant or not, we demolished these guys no time flat.
Then I searched for mahjong sets on Amazon. Anyone want to join my club?!
Easy Taiwanese Braised Beef
- 1/2 lb sirloin tip steak
- 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 1 shallot, quartered
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon five spice
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 star anise
Place all the ingredients in a suitable sized pot and then add enough water so that the steak is covered by 1 inch of liquid. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then turn down to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until fork tender. Let cool then thinly slice.
Green Onion Pancakes Recipe
makes 2 large pancakes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cups hot water, plus extra if needed
- 3 tablespoons oil or animal fat (I used beef fat)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon flour
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
via Food Wishes
Whisk together the flour and salt. Stir in the hot water, using a wooden spoon and then, when the dough is cool enough to handle, knead until smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and let rest for 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, heat up the oil and stir in the flour until smooth. Set aside and let cool.
Divide the dough into two equal portions – you want a big pancake for Taiwanese beef rolls. Keep the second portion of dough covered while you use a rolling pin to roll out the dough, as thin as possible. Brush or use an offset spatula to spread on an even layer of of oil/fat, leaving an inch boarder at the “top” of your piece of dough. This is to help you seal the pancake together; if you brush the oil/fat all the way to the edges, it will be harder to seal.
Evenly sprinkle on half of the green onions then roll up the dough like you would if you were making cinnamon buns, kind of like a jelly roll/tube. Then, form a coil and pinch the end so it sticks to itself and the pancake is round. Flatten the coil with the palm of your hand and proceed to use your rolling pin to roll the coil into a flat pancake. Don’t worry about any green onions that start popping out. Roll it out so the pancake is about 12 inches. Repeat with the remaining dough.
To fry, heat up a bit of oil in a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. When hot and shimmery, swirl the oil around and then add the pancake and cook until the bottom of the pancake turns golden brown and crispy and the top starts puffing up gently. Flip and cook the other side until brown and crispy and the pancake is cooked all the way through. Remove from the pan and make the Taiwanese beef roll, or, enjoy as is!
Notes: I used beef fat which made my fat and flour mixture more solid than if I used oil – if you use oil, brushing on the oil-flour mixture would be the best bet.
Taiwanese Scallion Beef Roll Recipe/牛肉捲餅
makes 2 rolls, serves 2-4
- hoisin sauce, 1-2 tablespoons, or to taste
- 2 green onion pancakes, hot
- sliced braised beef, hot
- 1 cup julienned cucumbers
- 1 small bunch cilantro
Brush the hoisin sauce onto the pancake, then top with a layer of beef, 1/2 the cucumbers and a generous amount of cilantro. Roll tightly and slice into 2 inch pieces. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and enjoy!