A staple in Chinese food is bing, a wheat flour-based flattened or disk-like item that resembles the parathas, crêpes, and pancakes of non-Chinese cuisines. In stateside Chinese restaurants, you’ve likely encountered it on the menu as “scallion pancakes,” also known as cong you bing. But there’s also chun bing, which is a bit thinner, and other kinds of bing that might include egg in the batter. In Taiwan, dan bing is a traditional breakfast food sold by street vendors every morning that’s a thin crepe with an egg on top. Jianbing is one of China’s most popular streetside breakfasts and bing variations; here, the batter is made of wheat and grain flour, and egg is generally a main ingredient. Some bing are cooked on a griddle or skillet while some are baked.
In other words, bing has become shorthand for an endless array of flour-based, round, and flat items that can be the vehicle for sauces like hoisin and chili and fillings like scallions, ham, and pickled things. In Chinese, pizza is commonly referred to pisa bing, crêpes are keli bing, and tortillas for tacos are known as Mexican thin bing.
The “Korean bing bread” by chef Beverly Kim at Chicago icon Parachute, a restaurant celebrated for its modern approach to Korean food, is another departure. “The dish is Chinese by way of Korea with a detour through the American Midwest,” say its creators. Namely, Parachute’s bing is still round and flat but uses yeast, where nearly all other forms are unleavened pieces of dough. And the kitchen there stuffs the bread (stuffings include scallions, potatoes, bacon, and cheddar) before it’s fried, baked, and then brushed in bacon fat.
A menu mainstay since the day Parachute opened in 2014, this is just about as good of a bread starter at a restaurant as you can get; it’s the most-ordered dish at the restaurant by a wide margin. The crispy exterior offsets a fluffy and chewy filling that the diner coats with a whipped sour cream butter that’s served alongside.
Kim and Parachute co-chef/partner Johnny Clark released a micro cookbook ($12) that details for readers who are up for the weekend task — according to Kim and Clark, it takes at least three months before a new cook can tackle the dish solo — how to recreate the prized item. The book, which the couple worked on with James Beard Award-winning food writer Kevin Pang, is 32 pages with more than 5,000 words detailing the exact method used at the restaurant for the best shot at Parachute’s bing bread. For now, there’s a simplified version of the recipe below.
Korean Bing Bread
For the sour cream butter:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
For the bread and assembly:
1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoon.)
2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 large russet potato, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
8 ounces white cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
1½ cups thinly sliced scallions (from about ½ bunch)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, divided
Step 1: To make the sour cream butter whisk butter, sour cream, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth and set aside. Butter can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Step 2: Combine yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 cups warm water in a large bowl, whisking to dissolve. Let sit until appearing to foam, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups flour and mix with a wooden spoon until dough comes together in a shaggy ball with only a few dry spots of flour remaining. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 50 to 70 minutes.
Step 3: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potato with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and remaining ½ teaspoon salt on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing once, until potato is golden brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.
Step 4: While potato is roasting, chill bacon in freezer until firm, 12 to 15 minutes (the bacon should not be frozen). Transfer to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels.
Step 5: Once dough has doubled in size, gently punch down and transfer to a generously floured surface. Knead, adding more flour a tablespoonful at a time if dough is very sticky, until smooth (dough should be very soft, pliable, and only slightly sticky).
Step 6: Divide dough in half and flour a work surface generously. Cover 1 piece of dough with plastic so that it doesn’t dry out. Roll out the second piece of dough, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking, to a 13-inch round about ¼-inch thick. Brush excess flour from dough, then brush with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Sprinkle with half of potato, bacon, cheese, and scallions.
Step 7: Roll up dough like a jelly roll. Pinch together seam and each end to seal. Gently squeeze and press from the center toward the ends to elongate the roll slightly and even out thickness.
Step 8: Starting from one end, coil roll (like a rope) to form a large spiral. Gently flatten spiral with your hand to form a 9-inch circle, sprinkling lightly with more flour if needed to prevent from sticking. Cover and repeat with remaining dough, potato, bacon, cheese, scallions, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Whisk soy sauce, 1 ½ teaspoon sugar, and 2 tablespoon water in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved; set aside.
Step 9: Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to coat. Carefully place 1 spiral of dough in hot skillet (keep remaining spiral covered) and brush with soy glaze. Cover pan with a lid and cook until underside of bread is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes (rotate skillet on burner as needed for even browning). Uncover and flip bread. Brush top with soy glaze and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
Step 10: Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, until underside is golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes (tent with foil if top gets too dark before bottom is golden brown). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining round of dough, soy glaze, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Cut warm bread into wedges and serve with sour cream butter, enjoy immediately.