This recipe comes from an early morning stroll around the town of Lijiang in Yunnan. Sarah and I had risen early (and in my case reluctantly) in order to savour some of the charms of the old town before the crowds hit and try to get some breakfast while we were at it. Whilst out and about, we came across this perfect example of Lijiang street food.
Lijiang baba consists of a soft chewy flat bread, egg and spring onions, sometimes eaten with a couple of tart and spicy chili sauces. It remains one of the most memorable breakfasts I’ve ever eaten, and one I was determined to recreate.
After several attempts, this is what we came up with:
Lijiang Baba (makes 2 flat breads )
100g plain white flour
1 teaspoon fast acting dry yeast (can be substituted with proofed, normal dry yeast)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
75ml lukewarm milk
chopped spring onions
1. Sieve flour into a mixing bowl, then add the yeast, sugar, half the vegetable oil and half the salt. Combine, then mix through the warm milk until the dough comes together in a soft sticky ball.
2. Knead dough on a flour-dusted surface until it attains a soft, elastic consistency. Place in a bowl and cover with a clean teacloth, then set aside in a warm place for 20 mins (or until it rises to roughly twice the size.)
3. When risen, halve the dough and roll each section into 1/4 cm thick discs roughly the same size as your frying pan.
4. To cook, heat the remaining oil in the frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, place one of the discs in the pan. As it cooks, large bubbles will form in the dough. When the bubbles cover most of the uncooked side, flip it over so it cooks on the reverse side. Quickly crack an egg onto the surface of the dough, break the yolk then sprinkle with chopped spring onions and a pinch of salt. Once the egg turns opaque fold the pancake in half like a calzone and press down to finish cooking.
5. Remove from the pan, halve then eat!