Step-by-Step Guide to Making Chinese Scallion Flower Rolls
Chinese Hua Juan, often referred to as flower rolls (or known as scallion buns in English), offer a delightful surprise in their delectable taste, despite the simplicity of this recipe.
- For the dough:
3/4 cup lukewarm water (slightly less than a full 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
- For assembling the Hua Juan:
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons neutral oil (plus additional for browning the buns)
2 scallions (thoroughly washed, dried, and finely chopped; approximately 1/2 cup from 2 medium scallions)
- In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the water, yeast, and sugar. Stir and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes until it becomes foamy. (This may take longer in colder temperatures).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Start the mixer on low to blend the dry ingredients, then gradually pour in the water. Once the dough forms, let the mixer knead it for 20 minutes. It might appear sticky initially, but the flour will absorb the water during kneading, resulting in a smooth dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can start by stirring the water into the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and then knead by hand.)
- After 20 minutes, if the dough is still too sticky and doesn’t cleanly detach from the bowl, add a bit more flour, one tablespoon at a time. You may require up to 2 tablespoons, but not much more than that. Allow the flour to incorporate, and then transfer the dough to a clean work surface.
- Meanwhile, blend the five-spice powder and salt in a small bowl. Prepare a bamboo steamer (you’ll need two layers) by lining it with a round piece of perforated parchment paper or damp cheesecloth. Set it aside.
- You’ll know the dough is ready if you can roll it out without needing to flour your work surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, roughly 9×18 inches (20×45 cm).
- Coat the entire dough surface with a thin layer of oil. Sprinkle the five-spice mixture evenly over the dough, followed by all of the chopped scallions.
- Fold the dough one-third lengthwise. Brush the clean side of the dough with a thin layer of oil, then fold the opposite side over it. Cut the dough in half and then into halves again until you have 16 strips of folded dough.
- To shape the buns, take one strip of dough, brush the top with a little oil, and place another strip of dough on top. Use a chopstick to make an indentation along the length of the strips. Hold both ends of the dough, one in each hand, and gently stretch and twist it a few times. Then, tie it into a loose knot to create a round bun shape.
- Repeat this process with the remaining dough until you have 8 buns. Arrange 4 buns on each level of your steamer, cover, and allow them to proof in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- When you’re ready to steam the buns, fill your wok with water and place the steamer inside (the water should not go higher than ½-inch up the sides of the bamboo steamer). Heat the wok over medium-high heat and set a timer for 15 minutes. Around the 10-minute mark, you should see steam rising around the bamboo lid. Once 15 minutes have passed, turn off the heat, and leave the lid ON the buns for 10 minutes. (If you lift the lid immediately, the buns may collapse).
- You can enjoy these steamed buns as they are, or you can pan-fry them first. To pan-fry the hua juan, heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet with a generous amount of oil and add the steamed hua juan to the pan. Once they become golden and crispy on the bottom, remove them from the pan and enjoy!
- If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you can pan-fry and steam these buns in a nonstick or cast-iron pan. Place the buns in a preheated and oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Once the bottoms of the buns are lightly browned, add 2/3 cup of water, cover the skillet tightly, and allow the buns to steam until the water evaporates. Then, remove the lid and continue cooking the buns until they become crispy. Serve
Chinese Hua Juan, also known as flower rolls, are both visually stunning and incredibly flavorful. These steamed scallion buns, which can also be pan-fried to achieve a delightful crispy texture, are a delightful culinary experience. Their remarkable taste is achieved through a harmonious blend of basic ingredients, including salt, five spice powder, and an abundance of fresh scallions. Despite their simplicity, Hua Juan stands as a testament to the rich flavors that can be achieved in Chinese cuisine.