There are a lot of ways to use your discarded sourdough starter, but these scallion pancakes are so easy to make that you might find yourself feeding your starter more often just so you have a reason to eat them.
Traditional scallion pancakes have more in common with your average cinnamon roll than they do a pancake. First, you have to make the dough. Then it needs to rise. Next, it gets rolled out into a big rectangle. Then you layer on the scallions and roll it up into a log, only, instead of slicing it into rounds like you would to make cinnamon rolls (see, I told you they were similar!) you spiral that log into a flat coil, roll it flat again, and then pan fry it. And that’s just for one pancake! I’m exhausted just writing about it.
These sourdough discard scallion pancakes, on the other hand, are more like their flapjack cousins. Even better, they’re so super easy to make — if you have a sourdough starter.
Note: While these pancakes are delicious, I cannot, in good conscious recommend getting a sourdough starter just so you can make them. That is way too much work.
scallion pancakes are the most time-efficient use of your discard sourdough starter
As those of you dutifully maintaining your sourdough starters know, often when you feed them, you end up discarding a portion. And that kind of sucks! I hate wasting food, so for the longest time I just never fed my starter unless I was going to use it — it would go a month or two between feedings. And yes, there’s a whole world of sourdough discard recipes out there, but… they can still be a lot of work. Sometimes I feed my starter while I’m making dinner, or in the morning before work, and I don’t really want to get out a whole bunch of dishes or mess around with the mixer to make waffles or popovers or whatever.
Not only are these sourdough scallion pancakes a great way to put that discard starter to use, they’re also a great way to use up a remaining nib of fresh ginger that you bought for one specific recipe or use the last few scallions that are starting to wilt.
They’re so easy to make that I’m actually more likely feed my starter now because I want to make scallion pancakes than I am because I want to make sourdough bread. (For more on how I maintain my starter, click here.)
how to make sourdough scallion pancakes
Sourdough starter is a leavening agent made from a fermented mixture of flour, water, and natural yeast and bacteria from the air. You can literally pour your starter right onto a hot skillet, sprinkle some sliced scallions and sesame seeds (for crunch!) on it, and it will become a pancake.
But… while you can certainly stop there if you want, I like to take an extra 60 seconds to dress my scallion pancakes up just a bit more. I use sesame oil, water, and a splash of soy sauce to transform the thick starter into a pancake batter-like consistency, and add some additional flavors — ginger, sesame oil, a pinch of salt and pepper — to offset the concentrated sourness of it all.
Based on the flavor of your starter, you may want to adjust the recipe. I feed my starter with 50% AP flour and 50% whole wheat flour, so the sour flavor is moderately strong. If you have a 100% whole wheat or rye starter, yours will be even more sour, and if you use 100% AP flour, the sour flavor will be much less pronounced.
So think of the recipe below as guidelines, and definitely feel free to mess around with other toppings. One time I added some shredded leftover carnitas from taco night to my pancakes. Another time I added crumbled pieces of bacon. Sometimes I use fresh grated ginger instead of the powdered stuff if I have a piece leftover from another recipe that I don’t want to waste.
And, fwiw, I eyeball pretty much everything while I’m making these. The whole point is to not make more dishes — don’t bust out the measuring spoons unless you have to.
Sourdough Scallion Pancakes
Yield: Approx 3 six-inch scallion pancakes.
Sourdough starter discard (at least 1 cup/~3-4 oz)
3-4 TBSP water
1 TBSP sesame oil (plus more for the skillet)
1 tsp ginger (or 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger if you have it)
1/4 tsp salt
A few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
3 TBSP Sesame seeds
1-2 tsp soy sauce, for dipping
- Mix starter, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and ginger (basically everything except water) together in whatever bowl or container your discard starter is in.
- Add water 1 TBSP at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined in between additions. Stop when the mixture is the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
Note: This will work even if you don’t add any water — but if you add too much water your pancakes will be pretty flat, so go slowly and err on the side of less water if you’re not sure.
- Heat sesame oil a skillet just over medium heat.
- Pour 1/3 of starter mixture into skillet. Top with thinly sliced scallions and sesame seeds. When the edges are dark and bubbles have formed around the edges and surface of the pancake (about 2-3 minutes) flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
- Transfer finished pancakes to a plate, cut them into wedges, and serve with a small bowl of soy sauce for dipping.
- The recipe above is based on an approx ~3-4 oz discard starter. If your amount of starter discard is significantly more or less than that, adjust the proportions accordingly.
- For a little extra oompf in your pancakes add 1/8 tsp baking soda and 1/8 tsp baking powder and let the batter sit 30 minutes before cooking.
- Sesame oil has a low smoke point, so keep an eye on your burner as you heat it up. Every stove is a bit different, you may need to lower your temp if it starts to smoke.