As the name would suggest, spring pancakes are traditionally eaten on the first day of spring, or Lichun, in the Chinese calendar.
These pancakes are very simple ingredients-wise — just flour, near-boiling water, and some sesame oil — and should also be quite thin.
The process for cooking these is unique, however. Instead of the standard method for cooking similar flatbreads like tortillas, lefse, or crepes, wherein one sheet is cooked at a time, mandarin pancakes are cooked two at once. This is done before the pancakes are fully rolled out: Two are brushed on one side with sesame oil, stuck together, and rolled out to their desired size. They’re then pan-fried (and depending on the recipe, often lightly steamed with a lid) briefly on each side, and the two pancakes are pulled apart after cooking. The end result is each pancake has one side that’s a bit crispy with more coloration from the pan, and another side that’s softer, moister, and pleasantly chewy.
Mandarin pancakes are so simple, if you ever want to make your own you almost certainly have the ingredients to do so at home! But if you ever do need to stock up on flour and sesame oil, Uwajimaya has many options for both.