For people who care about their food

Chinese Pancakes

Flour in a steel mixing bowl, water in a glass and a bottle of sesame oil, all on a white chopping boardI find that Ken Hom’s book Foolproof Chinese Cookery is usually a reliable source of recipes that work. I follow his measurements (except that I only use half his measures) and method (sort of) to make Chinese pancakes. Chinese pancakes are good for things such as Peking duck and the eternal British favourite, crispy aromatic duck – commonly known as CAD. You could also use them instead of tortillas or even to mop up a curry instead of naan or chapatis.

These pancakes are quick and easy to make. You can store them in the freezer too, so if you make a big batch you’ll always have some on hand.


(makes about 8 large or 12 small pancakes)

  • 140g/5 oz plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 125 ml/ 4 fl oz very hot water
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil





Water tipped into flour in a steel mixing bowl while a fork stirs the mixturePut the flour into a mixing bowl and gradually add the water, mixing all the while until the water is fully incorporated. I used a fork to do this. If the mixture seems too dry, add some more water.

Pancake dough being kneaded on a floured white chopping boardTurn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it until it becomes silky smooth. This should take 5-10 minutes. Dust it with flour if necessary, as it’ll probably be quite sticky at this stage. Once it’s smooth, cover it with a damp tea-towel and let it rest for about 30 minutes.

A "sausage" of dough being chopped into small piecesKnead the dough again for another 5 minutes, dusting with flour as necessary. Roll it into a sausage shape and cut into slices according to how many pancakes you want to make and what size you’re making. (Experiment with one slice first to give yourself some idea of the likely result.)

A hand holds a ball of dough, beside several more ballsShape each slice into a ball.

A ball of pancake dough is dipped into sesame oilNow we’re at the rolling stage. This is where Ken Hom and I differ. He next goes on to use two dough balls at a time to make a double pancake which is subsequently split into two at the end of the rolling and cooking process. I’m afraid that when I tried that I ended up with one very large pancake rather than two which were separable.

A rolled flat sheet of pancake doughHere’s my method. Dip the dough ball into the sesame oil and roll into a circle. If you’re not an accurate roller (I can never roll out a perfect circle) and you want pancakes of uniform size and shape, simply cut round a plate or a bowl.

A Chinese pancake frying in a panHeat a little sesame oil (a quick wipe of oil is plenty, rather than enough to shallow fry) in a suitable pan over a low flame. Put the pancake into the pan and cook on one side until it has dried underneath. Expect to see brown speckles. Flip it over and repeat on the other side. Repeat this process until all the dough balls are cooked.

Four Chinese pancakes frying together in a panI started off making a large pancake (the result of two balls sticking together) which turned out fine but then I thought that a cocktail version might make a more attractive presentation, because my next step was to use the pancakes to make Not Crispy Aromatic Duck.

You can of course cheat and buy ready-made ones. Last time I looked they were about £1 for 10 pancakes in the supermarket – after all, it’s only flour and water with a little bit of oil. I think it’s much more satisfying to make my own.

Foolproof Chinese Cookery

Buy from Amazon UK
Buy from Amazon US

Ken Hom
Hardback, 128pages
2000, BBC Worldwide
ISBN 0 563 55133 X

3 Responses to “Chinese Pancakes”

  1. Jill Peake

    Be warned, I have just tried to make up the pastry for these Chinese pancakes using the imperial measurements in the recipe and the conversion for the water is WRONG. 125 ml is 4.4 fl oz NOT 8. I stupidly added the water and arrived with a purely liquid dough and then had to add about another 4 oz of flour to make it possible to turn out and knead.

  2. Not Delia

    Hi Jill,

    Many thanks for making the effort to write in, and hopefully save someone else from making the same mistake.

    You are absolutely right – the conversion is wrong! (I never use imperial measurements so I hadn’t noticed, sorry.)

    I have always found Ken Hom’s books to be reliable but now I’m not so sure. You’re the second person in the last few weeks to have found an error in one of his books.

    Apparently there’s also a “glaring typo” in his latest book. (Please see the comment from Alex.)

    PS: I’ll go and correct the ingredients list next.

  3. Not Delia

    Oh dear, I’m sorry to say this error with the pancake ingredients was mine entirely and not Ken Hom’s or his editor’s. I’m glad you had the know-how to add more flour rather than waste your efforts.

    After writing my earlier comment to you, I went back to Ken’s original recipe (page 106 of the book) and I now see what’s gone wrong. I was only making a half quantity so I halved the amount of flour and oil but stupidly didn’t remember to halve the amount of water in the conversion.

    I always work in metric and test everything before posting – as you can see from my photo essays. But I don’t also test the recipes in imperial. In future I’ll have to make the choice between testing in imperial before posting or simply just stick to metric only. I think it’ll probably be the latter…

    In my defence I’d say that the post is more than 12 years old and I was pretty new to food blogging. But I accept that’s a feeble excuse.

    Once again, I apologise profusely for my mistake and thank you for pointing it out. Really, really sorry.

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