Friday, September 22, 2023

Shanghai Red Bean Pancake ("Wo Paeng")

This is a repost of an old favourite!

This is an old favourite of mine since I was little. Typically served in chinese restaurants in BP, we would often order a plate or two of it at the end of the meal. It is a thin, flaky and crispy rectangular-shaped pancake that is usually filled with a thin layer of red bean or white lotus paste, and then cut into small rectangular bite-sized pieces.

I decided to make this after browsing through a cookbook called "Dim Sum" where I came across a picture of an appetizing looking "Wo Paeng". I could just imagine the taste of it - sweet, crispy and oily. The recipe looked simple enough. However, the proportions and method of pan-frying it just didn't do it for me. I found another recipe on the web which looked like it would yield better results, and it did! Of course, it involved deep-frying the pancake to a golden crisp, just as I remembered it. I sprinkled some toasted pinenuts in the filling to add some texture.

Here is the recipe I used, adapted from Amy Beh:


50g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp custard powder
130ml water
1 egg, lightly beaten

6 tbsp (approx 120g) red bean paste, divided into 2 equal portions
20 pinenuts, toasted


  1. Combine all batter ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix with a hand whisk until well blended and is a thin runny consistency. Divide the batter into two equal portions.
  2. Meanwhile, take one portion of the red bean paste and place it between 2 pieces of clingwrap. Then, with a rolling pin, lightly roll it into a flat square piece and put aside.
  3. Lightly grease a large flat non-stick pan with a little cooking oil. Pour in one portion of the batter. Turn and tilt the pan to allow the batter to run evenly to the edge to form a thin layer of pancake. Cook over a gentle low heat for 2 minutes or until the pancake is cooked. Do not allow the pancake to brown.
  4. Use a turner/spatula to lift pancake onto a plate. Do the same for the other portion of the batter to make a second pancake.
  5. Remove one side of the clingwrap and flip the red bean paste onto the centre of the pancake, and peel off the other side of the clingwrap. Scatter pinenuts over the red bean paste, if used. Fold the near end of the pancake over the filling. Tuck in both the sides. Smear a little beaten egg along the edge and fold the remaining flap over to seal the pancakes.
  6. Deep-fry the pancakes in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. Once they puff up, do not move them around to prevent them from bursting. Remove the pancakes with a perforated ladle and drain on several layers of paper towels.
  7. Cut the pancakes into slices and serve hot.