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Jian bing – the Chinese crepe

March 14, 2011

Several summers ago when I was working in Shanghai, I had the chance to try some street food for breakfast every day on my way to work. While there was the typical ci fan tuan and you tiao with soymilk, my favorite option was to get the jian bing, the Chinese crepe.

The street vendors usually had this huge round stone thing that was really hot, and then spread the crepe batter around, add the fillings, which could be from anywhere from you tiao to fried tofu, and then fold it into a square shape to sell for less than a dollar. SO delicious and inexpensive.

I really sorely missed that jian bing, so I decided to make some with a friend today when I found a recipe on Since I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients, I substituted some ingredients here, which I think make the jian bing a lot more delicious.

The fillings I’ve had in China all included preserved mustard tubers, so I added that into the recipe. It also included green onions and cilantro.

It also involved the sauce, which is pretty much a mix of any form of fermented black bean sauce and chili.

Finally, the crepe batter itself originally had millet flour as a requirement, but I just used regular wheat flour since I had no millet flour nor millet, and wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to make a whole wheat crepe for this recipe.

I must say, the recipe turned out really yummy, though I was unable to make the crepe itself as crispy and thin as the street vendors. Perhaps a little more practice will make perfect. The recipe is below, which is made for 1 crepe only. Multiply the amount of ingredients needed for each crepe.

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon Asian chile pepper sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 green onion
1 tablespoon torn cilantro leaves
Something small and crispy; I recommend bite size versions of you tiao

(1) Whisk together flour, milk, vegetable oil, and 1 tsp of water in a bowl to make a batter the consistency of heavy cream.
(2) Mix the black bean sauce and chili sauce in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of water to make it easy to spread.
(3) Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-low heat. Pour the batter into the skillet, and spread evenly to make a thin crepe.
(4) Cook the crepe for 1 to 2 minutes, until firm. Pour the egg evenly over the crepe, and sprinkle the green onion, cilantro, and mustard tuber over it. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the egg is set.
(5) Flip the crepe and spread with sauce. Place the you tiao on the crepe. Flip the top third of the crepe down over the you tiao, flip the bottom third up, and then fold the crepe in half the other way around, trying to stack the you tiao pieces on top of each other. Serve hot.

Unfortunately I did not have you tiao on me, so I ate them without. They were still delicious, but I know they would have really popped in flavor had I made the addition. Next time when I have access to you tiao, I will definitely make these again. Otherwise, I’ll have to settle for fried tofu.

Hope these work out as wonderfully for you as they did for me!

Dai Dai


From → Recipes

One Comment
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