Just look at this. Wow. Have to re-think lots of things.
ca. 540 AD. Recipe (not direct translation). Take refined rice glutinous rice starch, add enough water to make a batter, heat a large pot of boiling water, set a copper pan in the water, push the pan to rotate it as you drop in a ladle of batter. The batter spreads to cover the whole pan (centrifugal force). Take the pan out of the water and peel off the film. It looks like suckling pig skin (cooked pig skin I assume).
Cut up and add to a savory soup or sweet sesame or fruit based soup.
Commentator Huang´s note.
Modern versions are still seen in the cuisine of Fukien. In the Foochow areas there is a much beloved dish called ting-pien hu which is made by spreading a thin layer of rice flour batter along the uypper wall of a large cooking wok. As the film dries it is scraped and allowed to fall into the hot savory soup in the center of the wok.
In southern Fukien thin round rice pancake called po ping are made on a flat bottomed pan. These are used to wrap chopped meat and vegetables to give spring rolls. When fried they are just like the ubiquitous egg rolls one sees in Chinese restaurants in America except than the skins are thinner than those made with wheat flour. In
In short, I finally did what I should have done earlier on, looked up thin pastries in H.T. Huang´s wonderous volume in Joseph Needham´s Science and Civilization in China. Huang, born and raised in China,worked as a food scientist for years in the US, ending up as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, before writing this tome on Fermentation and Food Science in China. Never has a tome been more welcome.
He has a long discussion on ping or roughly Chinese pasta (Katy, I am following his terminology here which is why I use ping not bing. He uses it to describe the earlier wider meaning of the word, whereas as your links point out in modern times it refers mainly to round breads).
No less that 15 kinds of ping were described in the 6th century Chhi Min Yao Shu, Essential Arts for the People´s Welfare, an astonishing compendium of agricultural practices and food technology. The one above is the only batter.
Comments, please, please. Just love these hunts. Thanks Charles, Katy and Robyn for comments here and on Facebook about the Chinese thin pastries, and everyone else on those elsewhere. I will acknowledge them in future posts.