Chinese beef rolls or Niu Rou Jian Bing in Chinese. These bad boys are in my top 5 street food. I’ll give you a short description if you’ve never had them. Slow cooked tender beef, greens, sweet bean sauce, all rolled in a thin, crispy and flaky scallion pancake. No need to tell you it’s ridiculously good. You can usually find these rolls in Northern Chinese cuisine restaurants but the good news is you can also make them yourself.
First, the beef (usually beef shank) is slow cooked with asian spices. It can be used right away but like it’s often the case with slow cooked beef, it gets better the next day. The flavors of the broth gets deeper into the meat and it’s also more tender. It’s actually quite convenient if you’re having people over or preparing your food for the week. Most of the work is done, and all you have to prepare are the pancakes.
In China, there are two types of pancakes you can find. One is a very thin pancake, similar to a crepe. The other, which I’m making in this recipe is more like a thin flatbread. It’s spread with vegetable shortening and chopped scallions, rolled up, and rolled out again to create flaky layers.
Chinese Beef Rolls
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
- 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
- 4 scallions, cut in thin slices
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 lb beef shank
- 2 whole black cardamom pods
- 3 scallions, ends removed, cut in half
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 star anise
- 1 thumb ginger, sliced
- 2 dried chillies
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/3 cup rice wine
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
- 3/4 tbsp rock sugar
- hot water
- Chinese sweet bean paste
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced (w/ speed peeler)
- Preheat oven 350F. Heat up a large oven safe pot with oil, cook garlic, scallions, dried chillies, star anise, cardamom, peppercorn, rock sugar and ginger until fragrant. Add rice wine, dark and light soy sauce, beef shank, salt and add just enough water to cover the beef shank. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven to cook for an hour.
- For the pancake, add flour and water in a bowl, knead into a dough until smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.
- Roll into a 1/5 inch thick rectangular shape, spread vegetable shortening, sprinkle with salt and scallions. Roll and pull as tight as possible from the longest side, until it forms a sausage.
- Divide in four pieces, seal each end. Roll into a pinwheel, tug the end at the bottom. Rest for 5 mins.
- Flatten pinwheel by hand and roll into a disk, as thin as possible. The dough may stick a little but it should be workable. Use a bit of oil (no flour) to prevent sticking if necessary.
- Heat a large pan with oil on medium high heat, cook each side of the pancakes until golden.
- Spread 1/2 tbsp bean paste on a pancake, top with beef slices, cucumber, scallions and coriander and roll. Repeat with the rest of the pancakes.