Jianbing 煎饼 Recipe – The Easy 7 Step Guide

Jianbing Recipe 煎饼 – Your Complete Guide to Making the Chinese Breakfast Classic

If you’ve left China and are desperately craving a delicious jianbing (煎饼 jiānbǐng), or perhaps you just wanted to give making one a try, then our jianbing recipe is perfect for you.

Jianbing Recipe – Origins of the Jianbing

Jianbing Recipe – Shandong vs Tianjin

Jianbing Recipe – International Popularity

Jianbing Recipe – Ingredients

Jianbing Recipe – 7 Step Guide

Jianbing Recipe – Origins of the Jianbing

In Chinese jianbing is 煎饼 (jiānbǐng) which literally translates to “fried cake”.

It has a similar texture to a crepe and is one of the most popular Chinese street breakfasts.

Jianbing-Recipe

So where did the first jianbing actually come from?

To find that out we’ll have to travel back 2,000 years to Shandong (山东 shāndōng) during the Three Kingdoms period (220–280 AD).

The legend goes that a Chinese army was struggling to cook their food because they had lost all their woks. So the Army Chancellor Zhuge Liang had the ingenious idea of using their shields suspended over a fire as a flat cooking service.

Liang ordered the army cooks to mix water and wheat flour to make a batter then spread this out over the shields and toss any other leftover food on top. The cooked batter was then folded up to make a handy dish that could be handed out to the hungry soldiers.

Now with full stomachs the soldiers’s morale was boosted and they fought their way to victory 💪.

Of course, like any legend who knows how much truth there is to it, but it definitely makes for an interesting story!

What we do know is that around this time jianbing started to gradually become a popular dish in Shandong and then began to spread to other parts of China.

Did you know that since 2019, 30th April is now officially World Jianbing Day. Started by the Shanghai based food tour company UnTour, it’s certainly going to be marked in our diaries for next year 📅.

Jianbing Recipe – Shandong vs Tianjin

tianjin-jianbing-guozi

Anyone who has tried a fair few jianbings will know that the fillings inside them can vary and extras such as meat can be added.

However, traditionally there are two main different types of jianbing: Shandong jianbing and Tianjin‘s jianbing guozi (煎饼馃子 jiānbing guǒ zi).

Typically a Shandong jianbing has a 薄脆 (báocuì) inside. A 薄脆 is like a fried cracker, it made from a deep fried, square sheet of dough.

This gives the jianbing what some would say is an essential crunch factor.

A jianbing guozi, on the other hand, has a 油條 (yóutiáo) inside. A 油條 is a deep fried dough stick and is a Chinese breakfast food in it’s own right.

It is popularly eaten with a glass of warm soy milk (豆浆 dòujiāng) which you dip the 油條 into.

The other difference is that the pancake of the Shandong jianbing is slightly more crispy as more coarse flour such as millet flour is used, whereas in Tianjin they normally use mung bean flour which gives a softer texture.

The first jianbing guozi in Tianjin can be dated back to around 600 years ago.

Let us know if you’re team Shandong jianbing or team Tianjin jianbing guozi in the comments section!

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Jianbing Recipe – International Popularity

In recent years the jianbing has started to gain international popularity, with jianbing stalls cropping up in many cities in the US, London in the UK and Sydney in Australia.

jianbing-recipe

Yes, many foreigners who fell in love with jianbing when visiting or living in China have decided to introduce it to their homes.

This is great news if you’re lucky enough to live in one of these cities and not too sure about making one yourself.

Though, hopefully with our 7 step guide you’ll be willing to give it a go!

However, this popularity abroad hasn’t been without it’s criticism. The rise of the jianbing overseas has sparked some concern within China of centuries old recipes being under threat.

There has been some worry about the authenticity of jianbings being made by foreigners.

In Tianjin there are strict rules in place to ensure jianbings meet the required standard such as having to be 38 and 45 centimetres in diameter or the specific ingredients required.

Those who do find a jianbing stall or restaurant in their area, be warned with most places charging around £5-7 or $6-7 you’ll be paying a lot more than you would in China.

The cheaper option is definitely to try and make it at home yourself.

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Jianbing Recipe – Ingredients

Jianbing-recipe2

For our jianbing recipe we will be making the Shandong style jianbing.

However, if you prefer a jianbing guozi you can simply swap out the fried cracker (薄脆 báocuì) for a fried dough stick (油條 yóutiáo).

For the Batter:

  • 40g mung bean flour
  • 40g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Filling:

  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • 4 dumpling wrappers
  • 1 tablespoon red fermented bean curd paste (南乳酱 nán rǔ jiàng)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet bean paste (甜面酱 tiánmiànjiàng)
  • Chile sauce or chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 free range eggs
  • Black sesame seeds
  • 1 Spring onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coriander (optional)

Jianbing Recipe – 7 Step Guide

Finally, it’s time we get to our 7 step jianbing recipe.

Step 1 – Make the batter

Whisk together the plain flour, mung bean flour, salt and water in a bowl until smooth. It’s important to make sure that there aren’t any lumps, if you use an electric whisk it’s easier to get smooth. Once mixed set aside.

Step 2 – Make the fried cracker

Take a frying pan and heat a layer of oil over a medium to high heat, then fry the dumpling wrappers in the oil until golden brown. This happens pretty quickly (about 30-45 seconds) so be sure to watch it.

Remove the wrappers from the pan and leave to cool on a piece of kitchen roll to absorb excess oil.

As we’re using ready made dumpling wrappers this is a little bit of a shortcut for making the fried cracker 薄脆. However if you want to make your own from scratch you can check out the wrappers section of our dumpling making blog.

Alternatively for a cheat version you can use some plane tortilla chips instead to achieve that crunch.

Step 3 – Prepare the sauce

In a small bowl mix together the bean curd paste, sweet bean paste and chilli sauce or flakes if you want your jianbing to be spicy. Set aside to be brushed on later.

Step 4 – Make the pancake

Egg in Chinese

Heat a lightly oiled pan and once hot add about half of the pancake batter, the rest will be kept for the second pancake.

Spread the batter evenly over the pan, to create a thin pancake.

Cook for about 1-2 minutes until firm and then crack an egg onto the pancake. Use a spatula to break the egg up and spread it over the pancake.

To make things easier the egg can be beaten beforehand and then spread over the pancake if preferred.

Step 5 – Add spring onion and flip

Sprinkle some black sesame seeds over the egg. Once the egg is almost cook also sprinkle over half of the spring onion.

You can tell if the pancake is almost done if it starts bubbling and curling at the edges.

Now, it’s time for the tricky part. Use a spatula to scrape around the edges of the pancake and once it’s unstuck flip the pancake over.

This can be easier to do using two spatulas together so that you can support both sides of the pancake.

Step 6 – Add Sauce and Fillings

Take the sauce you prepared earlier and spread half of it over the pancake using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon.

Add the fried dumpling wrappers to the centre of the pancake, leaving a space inbetween, and sprinkle over half of the coriander.

We’ve chosen to make a traditional vegetarian jianbing, but if you want to add some meat, such as a slice of ham you can. Other common add ons are pickled vegetables, lettuce, shredded carrot etc.

Step 7 – Fold

Lastly, you need to fold up the pancake. Fold the top third of the pancake down over the fillings, then fold the bottom third up over this.

Next, fold the pancake in half vertically down the middle where you left a space between the two crackers.

And there you have it!

An easy jianbing recipe for you to try out so that you can enjoy a jianbing from the comfort of your own home.

Check out our video below for an introduction to some more Chinese breakfast staples.

Jiangbing Recipe – FAQ’s

What is jianbing?

Jianbing is a popular Chinese street food breakfast.

How do you pronounce jianbing?

The pinyin for jianbing is jiānbǐng, jiān is first tone and bǐng is third tone.

What are the characters for jianbing?

The characters for jianbing are 煎饼 jiānbǐng.

How does a jianbing guozi differ from a standard jianbing?

A standard jianbing has a fried cracker (薄脆 báocuì) inside. Whereas a jianbing guozi, has a fried dough stick (油條 yóutiáo) inside.

Is jianbing healthy?

As a fried pancake, which includes a deep fried cracker, jianbing isn’t the healthiest choice. However, switching the fried cracker for something like lettuce will make the jianbing much more healthy.

Is there a jianbing place near me?

Currently there are jianbing places in many cities abroad such as London, Sydney, New York, Chicago and many more.

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  • LTL Avatar Alexander Krasnov
    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

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