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Chinese Zucchini Pancakes

20 mins Cook
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Copy of NomNom Recipes 1 22

Chinese food for breakfast? Absolutely! I can assure you that breakfast in Asian countries is far more intriguing than a simple combination of toast and cereal, not to mention much more delightful!

Pancakes Chinese Zucchini Pancakes

Even though I was raised in Australia, all of my relatives reside in Tokyo. Every time I pay them a visit, even during my vacation, I eagerly leap out of bed at sunrise, excited about the prospect of the breakfast spread that resembles a mini-dinner buffet in Japan. It includes items like rice, miso soup, salads, grilled marinated fish, pickled vegetables, savory rice porridge, and even sashimi (yes, sashimi for breakfast!). The variety seems endless. There truly isn’t a better way to describe it than as a breakfast that resembles a mini-dinner buffet. (Just to clarify, not every household may offer a 10-dish spread, but the standard fare typically includes rice along with a couple of side dishes).

While it’s not common throughout Asia to find breakfast buffets resembling dinner spreads, one thing is for sure: toast and cereal are definitely not the standard morning fare! Across various Asian countries, you’ll encounter a fascinating array of breakfast options. In Thailand, for instance, you can savor rice in a fragrant broth with a hint of coriander. In Indonesia, particularly in Bali, there’s Burbur Ayam, a traditional breakfast rice porridge topped with shredded chicken. In Thailand, street vendors start their day early, offering Khao Neow Moo Ping, which consists of grilled pork skewers served with sticky rice. In Nepal, there’s roti, a thin pan-fried bread often served with a flavorful vegetable curry for dipping.

As for Zucchini Pancakes, while I didn’t come across them during my travels in China, I stumbled upon a recipe on one of my favorite Asian food blogs, China Sichuan Food by Elaine, and knew I had to give it a try. What intrigued me about this recipe was its simple yet winning flavor combination, delicately flavored with a touch of Chinese Five Spice powder. The accompanying dipping sauce complements it perfectly.

What sets this recipe apart is its approach to handling zucchini. Instead of the traditional method of salting and squeezing out excess water from the grated zucchini, the batter is set aside for 15 minutes to allow the zucchini to naturally release moisture. This moisture transforms the batter from a thick consistency to that of pancake batter, making it a simpler and more convenient preparation method.

I’ve also adapted this recipe to make smaller fritter-sized pancakes, perfect as an appetizer. These are delightful to pass around with the dipping sauce on the side. When I serve them as an appetizer, I often add a generous dollop of chili to the sauce.

I encourage you to visit China Sichuan Food when you have the chance and explore a treasure trove of authentic Chinese recipes, far beyond the typical Chow Meins and Hokkien Noodles. I appreciate how Elaine makes restaurant dishes accessible for ordinary folks like me to prepare at home!

Chinese Zucchini Pancakes

Chinese Zucchini Pancakes

Chinese food for breakfast? Absolutely! I can assure you that breakfast in Asian countries is far more intriguing than a simple combination of toast and cereal, not to mention much more delightful!
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
20 mins
total time
30 mins




  • 1 large zucchini , grated (1 1/2 cups, not packed in)

  • 3 shallots / scallions , thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup flour

  • 3/4 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice (note 1)

  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  • 2 tbsp vegetable or other cooking oil


  • 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar (note 2)

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 small garlic clove , finely chopped

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp chili paste or sauce (optional - see note 3)


  • Extra sliced shallots / scallions


Begin by using a cheese grater to grate the zucchini directly into a medium-sized bowl.
Combine the remaining ingredients with the grated zucchini and stir until they are just blended. Be cautious not to overmix, as excessive mixing can lead to a tough and dense pancake. The batter will appear rather thick, thicker than anticipated, but it will thin out in the following step.
Allow the batter to sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. During this time, the zucchini will release its moisture. Give the batter a quick stir to incorporate the released water.
While the batter is resting, prepare the Dipping Sauce by combining its ingredients in a small bowl. Set the sauce aside.
Heat some oil in a large, sturdy frying pan over medium-high heat.
Take approximately 1/2 cup of the batter (level it) and place it in the pan. Utilize the bottom of the measuring cup or a spoon to gently pat and spread the batter, forming a circle that is roughly 12cm (5 inches) in diameter. Repeat this process with the remaining batter, or cook in batches of 2 if your frying pan is not sufficiently large.
Cook each side for approximately 1 1/2 minutes, or until they turn a golden brown hue.
Serve immediately, garnished with extra shallots or scallions, with the dipping sauce served on the side.


Chinese Five Spice has become quite ubiquitous nowadays, readily available in major Australian supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths, Harris Farms, and Aldis, typically found in the dried herbs and spices section. This blend comprises five distinct spices - star anise, fennel, Sichuan pepper, Chinese cinnamon, and cloves. Importantly, it is no more costly than other common spices. Chinese black vinegar can be easily obtained from Asian grocery stores at an affordable price, usually ranging from $2 to $3 for a large bottle. If you can't find it, you can substitute it with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of malt (brown) vinegar or balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar, both of which are available at supermarkets or Asian grocery stores. Feel free to use any chili paste or sauce of your preference to add a touch of spiciness. Personally, I use Chinese chili paste, a blend of crushed dried chili in chili oil, which I purchased from an Asian grocery store for a few dollars. However, I often opt for a dash of sriracha since I always have it in my pantry. It's advisable to serve these pancakes immediately. If you decide to cool and reheat them in the oven, make sure to place them on a rack to prevent the bottom from becoming soggy. However, like any pancake, I find they are at their best when served fresh. Nutritional Information for Chinese Zucchini Pancakes
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