The first time I had green onion cakes was from a small Korean foods vendor at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market in Edmonton, on the recommendation of my cousin. We shared a couple orders for lunch. They were totally different that these ones, but they started my addiction nonetheless.
Since then, I’ve been buying green onion cakes frozen when I can, and making them myself when I can’t. Some of the ones I’ve bought (delicious as they are) are so loaded with oil that they leave a thick layer in the pan after they are done cooking. These ones have as little (or much) oil as you want to add.
What I love about this green onion cakes recipe is the addition of cilantro and sesame oil. It gives them so much extra flavor. But yes, I do realize that these ingredients tend to fall into the “you either love it or hate it” category. So if you don’t like one or both of them, just skip it. Remember, that’s the beauty of making things yourself!
Now I’m going to give you a bit of a heads up: while making the green onion cakes is not difficult, it is time consuming. They involve a lot of hands on work, like making dumplings or decorating cookies.
When I make them, I usually double or triple the recipe and make a whole bunch at once. Because of this, I break it up into steps so I’m not doing it all at once. First I prep the ingredients: wash and chop the green onions and cilantro. Then I make the dough, which has to rest for 30 minutes or so. Then I assemble (which goes much faster if you have someone helping you).
The first part of assembly involves cutting the dough into workable pieces – 4 pieces for a single recipe. I tripled my recipe but used 16 pieces, so my finished green onion cakes are smaller. Make sure you keep the dough you aren’t working with covered or it will dry out.
Form the piece of dough into a ball then roll in into a circle. Try and get it as thin as you can – this will make for more flaky layers in the finished green onion cake. Then brush a thin layer of sesame oil on top. Sesame oil has a strong flavor, so don’t overdo it. If you do want to add more oil, dilute the sesame oil with a little canola oil. Then sprinkle on the green onions and some cilantro.
Roll the whole thing into a rope.
Then form the rope into a coil, as if you were making cinnamon buns.
Now roll that coil to flatten it. This will become the finished green onion cake, so make it as thick or thin/small or large as you want it. Then repeat with the remaining dough balls.
At this point, you have a few options. You can either cook them now, or freeze the raw green onion cakes to be cooked later. This is what I did. I first froze the green onion cakes on a sheet of wax paper in a single layer on a baking sheet. When they were frozen, I transferred them to freezer bags with wax paper between each cake. That way they don’t stick together when I want to take out one at a time to cook.
You can also freeze the green onion cakes after they’ve been cooked. Cook them in a skillet over medium high heat with a thin layer (about 1 Tbsp) of canola oil. If they are browning too quickly, turn heat down to medium. Flip when they start to brown.
Green Onion Cakes with Cilantro and Sesame Oil
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup room temperature water
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 6 green onions finely minced
- 2 Tbsp minced cilantro
- Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the water and stir with a fork until combined. If there is still flour left in the bottom of the bowl, add more water 1 tsp at a time until dough comes together; it should not be sticky. Move dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a clean bowl and lightly brush with oil. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Cover the pieces you aren't working with with plastic. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough balls, one at a time, into large circles, as thin as possible. Brush dough with a thin layer of sesame oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 of each green onions and cilantro.
- Roll the dough into a rope, as if you were making cinnamon buns, then roll the rope into a coil. Roll the coil with a rolling pin to flatten, leaving it about 1/4" thick. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
- Heat 1/2 to 1 Tbsp oil (depending on the size of your skillet - you want to lightly coat the bottom of the pan) over medium-high heat. Cook the green onion cake until it is lightly browned on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Turn down heat to medium if cake is browning too quickly. Serve with chili garlic, sriracha, or Thai sweet chili sauces.