This is a simple dish that my mom would make. It was so satisfying, since well, it was full of carbs. It’s literally just pan-fried pancakes, or bing (饼) that are stir-fried with cabbage and garlic. But the smell is so fragrant when my mom makes it that it always is good enough for me. It’s an easy meal to bring to lunch when working, or interning in my case. You can make a lot and eat the leftovers later after heating it up in the microwave.
The main component of this dish is the pan-fried pancakes. I’m not sure how to translate it into English. Bing (饼) is almost like the bread of meals but I wouldn’t call it bread. Maybe it’s more similar to flatbread? If you think of the carb base in a gyro or naan, it’s similar to that. When I blogged about scallion pancakes, or cong you bing (葱油饼), I was unsure of using that translation. In many Chinese restaurants, that is how it is referred to in English. But pancakes conjure images of fluffiness and sweetness when maple syrup is poured over it. Not something that is salty.
After my mom taught me how to make this, I thought I’d give this a try. The best part about this dish was the price.
Lettuce (洋白菜) – $0.79 – for the entire head – only use bits of it – used it for 4 meals of chao bing
Bing (饼) – $1.50 for entire piece – only use a quarter each time – 4 meals
Total – $2.29 for FOUR meals – $0.57/meal!!! (not including the other ingredients, which I already had at home)
Apologies for the phone quality pictures. When cooking, it’s not practical to have a DSLR in one hand while trying to stir-fry. If only I had someone else to take the pictures for me… Any volunteers?
- ¼ of a circular bing
- ¼ of a head of lettuce (洋白菜)
- 1 Clove of garlic (I used 2 because I like the garlic flavor)
- Stalk of scallion (add more if you like it)
- Dash of Salt
- (Optional) Balsamic Vinegar
- Break the lettuce into bite sized pieces with your hands. Make sure they’re the same sizes so they cook evenly. Don’t use a knife, which my mom says may make it taste funny. This is fun stress-relieving exercise!
- Cut the scallions.
- Dice the garlic.
- Cut the bing into strips. I used a quarter of the circular bing. In order to have the strips be of equal lengths, I cut along the radius of the circle. (as shown in the picture) I like thicker strips but after showing my chao bing pictures to relatives in China, they said it should be cut thinner. (show the one from the school cafeteria – thin strips)
- Stir-fry the lettuce with scallions until slightly soft. Add in salt.
- Make a bed of lettuce to cover the bottom of the wok.
- Place the strips of bing over it. The lettuce prevents the bing from sticking to the wok.
- Cover the wok so that the bing cooks by steaming.
- When it’s cooked through, add in the diced garlic and stir. This will allow the garlic flavor to be incorporated into the dish.
- (Optional) After it’s served, I like to add vinegar. I’m used to add balsamic vinegar to noodle dishes and I treat this dish as a noodle. It’s a habit of mine and I like that taste. Maybe it’s a Chinese thing because I asked for vinegar in my noodles at the Dartmouth Chinese Language House and the professor said that Chinese people like to do this.