April 20, 2017
Keep an eye out for jianbing (pronounced gin-bing), the savory Chinese crepe popping up more and more stateside. The soft mung bean wrapper, typically layered with eggs, cilantro, scallions, tangy bean paste, and a crispy wonton cracker, is a popular breakfast in Beijing and Tianjin, but here it’s catching on as a portable anytime snack.
Cheng Hu, the owner of Tai Chi Jianbing in San Francisco, ate jianbing almost every day when he was growing up in Northern China and he was surprised they weren’t as popular in the Bay Area. “I thought I should create something different that balances authentic Chinese food with the delicious things I’ve eaten in America,” he says. He riffs on the classic jianbing, piling on Western-inspired combos like red cabbage and pulled pork (pictured above) or tuna and mayo.
He starts with a loose batter made from mung bean and organic wheat flour, then spreads the mixture over a hot griddle. While it’s cooking, he scrambles an egg on top and showers it with cilantro, sesame seeds, and scallions.
After the eggs set, he flips it over to sear. Here’s where Hu’s technique departs from his peers: Traditionalists fold in a crispy wonton or a savory Chinese doughnut with sweet bean paste and stop there. But Hu goes one step further, adding veg, proteins, and little extra sauce. “Today some people in China add sausage, mayo, or ingredients from Western countries,” Hu says. “I got inspired from that.”
The whole thing is folded again, cut in two, and covered in garlic chile sauce. From there, you can eat with chopsticks or just go right at it with your hands.