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Secret Recipe: House of Nanking's Fried Onion Cakes

Photo by Ed Anderson

7x7 asks the city's chefs for the recipes to their most loved cocktails, bar snacks, starters, mains, and desserts. If there's a dish you can't stop thinking about and want to make at home, email schuyler@7x7.com. Your wish may end up on the blog, along with the actual recipe from the chef. 

A light, crisp patty packed with fresh onion and topped with a thin veil of peanut sauce, which lends a sweet-and-savory flavor punch to the dish: This is why the fried onion cake has been disappearing off plates at House of Nanking for the past 25 years. Chef-owner Peter Fang has kept his family recipe a fiercely guarded secret, but now his daughter, Kathy Fang, chef- owner of Fang Restaurant in SoMa, is dishing out (most of) the deets. She’s adapted her dad’s world-famous cakes for home consumption. What’s the secret? It’s all in the dough. 

Mini Fried Onion Cakes with Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

1 bag raw pizza dough

Flour for working with dough

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 bunch (6-8 bulbs) green onions, finely minced (only the green parts; set aside white parts for garnish)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon white pepper

Soybean oil for frying

2-inch cookie cutter

Peanut sauce (see the recipe here)

Sesame seeds for garnish

1. Rest dough on a floured surface.

2. In a small pan, heat sesame oil to medium heat, and add green onions. 

3. Let simmer until the onions wilt down, and then add salt, sugar, and white pepper.

4. Remove from stove, and let cool for 1 minute.

5. Roll dough flat and spoon the green onion–sesame oil mixture into the center. Spread it out into an even layer.

6. Starting at the bottom edge of the dough, roll entire sheet up into a tight log.

7. Pick up the log and turn it vertically. Use your palm to smash the log down, kneading the green onions throughout the dough, and roll it out flat again.

8. Spoon another layer of green onion– oil mixture into the center, and repeat steps 6-7 two more times.

9. Roll dough out thinly and set aside.

10. Heat soybean oil in a nonstick pan on high heat. When the pan is close to smoking, place the dough in the pan.

11. Fry on both sides until golden brown.

12. Slide onto a cutting board, and use a cookie cutter to cut into small, round cakes.

13. Drizzle peanut sauce on top, and garnish with sesame seeds and the white parts of the green onions.