Green-onion flatbreads (Chong Yo Bing)

Green-onion flatbreads (Chong Yo Bing)

 

Over 30 years ago (eek!), students at Stanford University founded the Asian American Theatre Project to promote and showcase theatrical works by Asian American artists featuring Asian American actors.  The first production was “FOB (Fresh off the Boat)” by Stanford student David Henry Hwang.  FOB launched his career and he is now one of America’s preeminent playwrights, with a 1988 Tony and Drama Desk award for best play (M Butterfly), multiple Obie awards, and multiple Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominations. 

So what does all this have to do with today’s dish?  Chong Yo Bing (“Bing”) figured prominently in FOB. David even wrote a very sensuous monologue about Bing.  I’m proud to say that I was one of the founding members of the AATP, worked on FOB, and was responsible for making the Bing for every production.  I can’t recall if I’ve made it in the 30-some years since.  This weekend however, I am reuniting with David and other AATP founding members at Stanford and moderating a panel following a revival production of FOB.  For old time’s sake, I made Bing and will bring it to the theatre.  I don’t know if David would agree, but to me, it was “All about the Bing.”

My mother taught me how to make Bing and we made it frequently when I was a kid.  She likes to put bacon bits in it, which makes it extra delicious.  I left them out this time but they still have great bacon flavor because of the drippings.  If you are vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable oil but they won’t be as hedonistic.  By rolling them the way described below, they come out very flaky.  They are really yummy with a warm slightly-sweetened soy-milk chaser.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup rendered bacon drippings (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon bits (optional)
  • Kosher salt (only if you don’t use bacon bits)

Add boiling water to the flour in a food processor fitted with a dough blade.  Process until the mixture forms a ball.  If it is too dry add cold water (1/2 tbsp at a time until the ball forms).  Remove the ball and put it in an oiled bowl covered with a clean damp towel.  Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Cut the ball into 12 equal-sized pieces.  Return all but one to the bowl and recover.  Lightly flour a cutting board.  Roll the dough piece into a ball.  Flatten it on the flour-dusted board, flip it over and coat the other side lightly with flour.  Roll the ball out into a thin 6” diameter circle.  Lightly brush the surface with bacon drippings.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp green onions and 1 tsp of bacon bits on top, leaving 1” of the far end of the circle onion and bacon free.  If not using bacon bits, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the surface.

Starting from the edge of the circle closest to you, roll the circle like a jelly roll towards the onion free edge into a tight rope.  Pinch all seams closed.  Starting on one end of the rope, coil it towards the other end to form a snail bun shape.  Pinch the end tight.  Press the snail bun with your palm and roll it again into a circle – this time about five inches in diameter.  Some onion or bacon may fall out.  Don’t freak out.  Just press it back into the dough and lightly dust the area with flour.

Repeat with the remaining 11 pieces of dough, stacking the flatbreads on top of one another.

Heat two non-stick frying pans over medium heat.  Brush pans lightly with bacon drippings.  When oil sizzles, add a flatbread to each pan and pan fry for about two minutes, or until nice golden brown spots develop all over the bottom surface, pressing the breads against the pan occasionally.  Lift each flatbread with a pancake turner, brush a little more bacon dripping underneath.  Flip the bread over and fry the other side until golden brown spots form (see photo).  Remove from pans and repeat with remaining 10 flatbreads.

These are best hot from the stove but you can also allow the breads to cool, wrap them in foil and reheat them in the oven later.

Makes 12 flatbreads

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