Zhima Dabing: Sesame Scallion Flatbread (Sourdough or Yeasted)

Zhima Dabing is a Chinese flatbread and is the leavened version of the popular crisp & flakey Cong You Bing aka Scallion Pancake. It literally translates to “scallion big pancake”. The process in making zhima dabing and cong you bing is very similar– the main difference being that there is more dough and it needs to be rested/proofed. It is typically eaten as a side/appetizer but I love using it as a base for sandwiches or toast or dip it into curry!

Below you will find a recipe for both a sourdough or yeasted version.

Tips for success

Activate your discard / yeast

  • For the sourdough version, make sure you are using discard from a once active sourdough starter. I use discard from a mason jar in the fridge that I use to collect my discards but you can use fresh discard. If you are just starting to build your starter, your discard will not work since it has not developed it leavening abilities.
  • Make sure the water is warm when adding the sourdough discard or active dry yeast. This activates the yeast and reduce the proofing time.
  • Do be patient and make sure you wait till the dough has sufficiently risen before working with it. The first and second rise for the sourdough version takes ~2 hours for me at a kitchen temperature of ~74F. Everyones sourdough and environment is different so this can vary significantly. For active dry yeast, the first rise takes about 1 hour for me and the second takes 45 minutes.

Getting layers

  • Generously and evenly apply sesame oil (use more than less)– this gives the bread its layers and adds a richness and nutty fragrance that brings the bread to the next level.
  • If you want more flat “flakey” layers, roll out the dough pretty thin before brushing on the sesame oil. After coiling, flatten the dough and roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick. We are squishing the spiral shape layers we have created when rolling up the dough.

Getting height

  • To get a taller flatbread only lightly flatten the coiled dough to seal everything together and then let it rise. This gives it distinguished spiral layers instead of the flat “flakey” layers. Please note that a taller flatbread would require a longer cooking time which may cause the scallions to overcook. For me, the ideal height is about 3/4″ thick.

Cooking

  • Place the dough into a cast iron skillet, cover it and cook it over medium low heat. By cooking on medium low heat, we allow the dough to cook without having the sesame seeds burn. By covering it, we trap the steam and heat within the pan, essentially creating an oven, helping the dough cook.
  • Once the flatbread starts looking toasty and brown, flip it. At this point you can cook it uncovered. If your flatbread is very tall, continue to cook it covered.
  • It’s hard to save undercooked dough. The flatbread is properly cooked when the outsides are crusty and when tapped, sounds hollow.
  • After both sides are done cooking, let it rest for a few minutes on a cutting board or cooling rack before cutting. This allows the flatbread to finish cooking via the trapped steam in the inside.

Shaping & cooking process

Sourdough Discard Scallion Flatbread
  1. Flatten the dough into a thin long rectangle. Brush the dough with sesame oil and layer on chopped scallions. Sprinkle with some white or cracked black pepper (optional).
  2. Tightly roll up the dough from the long side and pinch the ends close. Gently roll the dough to seal the seem and to elongate the rope. Coil up the dough with the seam side facing in and tuck the ends under.
  3. Flatten the dough and lightly roll into a disk about 1/2-1 inch thick, depending on how tall you want it to be.
  4. Wet top and sides of the dough with water and generously sprinkle on sesame seeds. Turn the dough over and repeat. Cover and let rise until puffy ~2 hours for the sourdough discard version, ~1 for the yeasted version.
  5. Heat up a cast iron pan on medium low heat. Place the dough in the pan, cover and let cook for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is toasted and light brown.
  6. Flip and cook the other side ~2 minutes. Check the bottom every once in a while to make sure the sesame seeds do not burn. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for about 1 minute before slicing and serving.

Looking for more scallion goodness? Check these out:

Sourdough Discard Scallion Flatbread (Zhi Ma Da Bing)

Big a$$ sesame scallion pancakes! A bold flatbread with lots of height, layers, scallions & sesame.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: bread, sourdough, sourdough discard

Equipment

  • Skillet preferably cast iron with lid

Ingredients

Sourdough Version

  • 125 g all purpose flour
  • 25 g glutinous rice flour
  • 100 g sourdough discard
  • 60 g water
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Yeasted Version

  • 175 g all purpose flour
  • 25 g glutinous rice flour
  • 110 g water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Filling & Coating

  • 2 scallions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp pepper optional; white or black

Instructions

Sourdough version

  • Heat up water till it is warm but not too hot to the touch. Mix in sourdough discard until it is well incorporated and then add in the rest of the ingredients. Knead until a smooth and elastic dough forms. Cover and let rise until puffy ~2 hours.
  • Flatten the dough into a thin long rectangle. Combine sesame oil and flour together. Brush with oil mixture and layer on chopped scallions. Sprinkle with some white or cracked black pepper (optional). Tightly roll up the dough from the long side and pinch the ends close. Gently roll the dough to seal the seem and to elongate the rope. Coil up the dough with the seam side facing in and tuck the ends under. Flatten the dough and lightly roll into a disk about 1/2-1 inch thick, depending on how tall you want it to be. Thiner = flat flakey layers, thicker = lofty and spiraly. *
    Sourdough Discard Scallion Flatbread
  • Wet top and sides of the dough with water and generously sprinkle on sesame seeds. Turn the dough over and repeat. Cover and let rise until puffy ~2 hours.

Yeasted version

  • Heat up water and dissolve sugar– it should be warm but not too hot to the touch. Add active dry yeast and let it bloom ~5 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and knead until a smooth and elastic dough forms. Cover and let rise until puffy ~1 hour.
  • Flatten the dough into a thin long rectangle. Combine sesame oil and flour together. Brush with oil mixture and layer on chopped scallions. Sprinkle with some white or cracked black pepper (optional). Tightly roll up the dough from the long side and pinch the ends close. Gently roll the dough to seal the seem and to elongate the rope. Coil up the dough with the seam side facing in and tuck the ends under. Flatten the dough and lightly roll into a disk about 1/2-1 inch thick depending on how tall you want it to be. Thiner = flat flakey layers, thicker = lofty and spiraly. *
    Sourdough Discard Scallion Flatbread
  • Wet top and sides of the dough with water and generously sprinkle on sesame seeds. Turn the dough over and repeat. Cover and let rise until puffy ~2 hours.

Cook

  • Heat up a cast iron pan on medium low heat. Place the dough in the pan, cover and let cook for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is toasted and light brown. Flip and cook the other side ~2 minutes. Check the bottom every once in a while to make sure the sesame seeds do not burn. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for about 1 minute before slicing and serving.

Notes

The taller you make your flatbread, the longer it needs to cook. This may result in the scallion to overcook and turn an undesirable color. The sweet spot for me is about 3/4″ thick.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. rhianna says:

    So excited to try this! What size of pan did you use for this amount of dough?

    1. X says:

      I used a 10.25″ cast iron skillet but any skillet sizes should work since the flatbread doesn’t fill up the whole space! Here is a photo of how mine fit. Still lotsa space. sesame scallion flatbread

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