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green onion cake vs green onion donut

The Amazing Story of The Green Onion Cake

green onion cake vs green onion donut


The green onion donut vs green onion cake debate is one that many Edmontonians know. Popularized in northern China, the dishes are available throughout many restaurants in Edmonton. However, not many Edmontonians know why, with many trying to find out. 


Historian Laureate Chris Chang-Yen Phillips declares that the cakes feel like an Edmonton thing, claiming that you can’t find the dish if you visit other cities in Canada. Whereas if you were to analyze China, the dishes are available across the entire nation. It’s a showcase that no matter how popular a dish is somewhere, that doesn’t make it the same level of popularity elsewhere.


Origin of  the Green Onion Cake

Chang-Yen Phillip’s research led him to discover that the dish was popularized in the 1980s, thanks to chef Siu To. Siu To came from northern China and began his restaurant career in 1978. His green onion cakes were an immediate hit, with no other restaurants in Edmonton selling them.


Therefore, any individual who needed a green onion cake needed to go to Happy Garden or his other eatery, Mongolian Food Experience. Siu To declares that many of his customers were Taiwanese who initially went to the United States for school but found jobs in Edmonton.


Chang-Yen Phillips feels the dish is excellent festival food, representing a change in Chinese cuisine not typically found in Edmonton. Though Siu To found success in the 1980s, the dish didn’t become a true staple of the city until events like the Taste of Edmonton, Folk Fest, and the Fringe.


Taste of Edmonton is a summer tradition that celebrates the culinary arts. Downtown crowds fill the streets, exploring the food offerings that have been at the heart of the city for years. The festival is happening from July 21 to July 31 in 2022.


Starting August 4 and ending August 7, Folk Fest is a fantastic music festival in Gallagher Park that happens each year on the second weekend in August. Besides, many sponsors support the event, allowing patrons to partake in great food, relaxing vibes, and music.

Lastly, the Fringe is an annual arts festival held in the city from August 11 to August 21, 2022. The festival is the largest and longest-running Fringe festival in North America, attracting attendees all across the globe. The festival features countless great eateries from the city outside of the great art.


The Green Onion Cake

Rice Bowl Deluxe’s savoury green onion cake served with dark vinegar and chili sauce.

Green Onion Cake Appetizer
#Appetizer #RiceBowlDeluxe

Siu To feels the dish is as popular because of its uniqueness compared to a traditionally mass-produced product. The cakes aren’t super easy to make, prompting many to doubt Siu To when developing the dish. Many local chefs thought it was a waste of time, especially in a fast-paced setting like a festival.


For example, a chef could make seven dishes when it takes to cook a pre-made green onion cake. Though the dish isn’t as profitable as other dishes in these settings, Siu To felt determined, claiming the dish is a part of his heritage and a staple he needs to share.


Today, the dish took off, making it a perfect festival food thanks to its aroma, ease of use, and ability not to be messy to eat. It’s a shift in Chinese cuisine in the city, transitioning from Cantonese-style dishes to a hybrid style of food traditions from China.


Eventually, Siu To’s restaurants weren’t the only eateries making the dishes, with Siu To selling the dish to other restaurants throughout the city. Some restaurants began to experience showcasing different dishes with the same ingredients, such as the green onion donut.


Green Onion Donut and more variations

Picture below Rice Bowl Deluxe popular Green Onion Donut dish (Edmonton, Alberta)

Green Onion Donut

Unlike the traditional Green Onion Cake, Green Onion Donuts are a contemporary twist, born out of the fusion-food trend. Their history is more recent, having emerged as a unique offering in bakeries and cafes.

Comparing Green Onion Donut vs Green Onion Cake

Ingredients Comparison

Both dishes prominently feature green onions. However, while the cake is made with a dough base, the donut utilizes a sweet dough, usually leavened with yeast or baking powder.

Preparation Comparison

While both items are often fried, the Green Onion Cake can also be pan-seared, whereas the Green Onion Donut is typically deep-fried, like traditional donuts, and occasionally glazed.

Taste Comparison

Green Onion Cake carries a predominantly savory flavor. In contrast, Green Onion Donut balances sweet and savory notes, thanks to its sugary dough and flavorful onions.

Health Comparison

Health-wise, both dishes are indulgences. The Green Onion Cake is lower in sugar but can be high in sodium, while the Green Onion Donut, with its added sugar, may be higher in calories.

Popular Recipes

There are countless recipes for both Green Onion Cake and Green Onion Donut online. Experimentation with ingredients and flavors is encouraged to discover your perfect balance.

Cultural Significance

Both dishes carry cultural significance, the cake rooted in Chinese tradition, and the donut as a testament to modern culinary innovation.

Either way, the fried bread dish of the green onion cake and green onion donut has become a city staple. You can find the dish at most Asian cuisine eateries in the city. Consider visiting any of the festivals mentioned above to get the dish, so many Edmontonians love.


Green Onion Donut vs Green Onion Cake Conclusion

In conclusion, both Green Onion Cake and Green Onion Donut offer unique and satisfying culinary experiences. Whether you prefer one over the other comes down to personal taste and your desire for either traditional or fusion cuisine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is Green Onion Cake healthier than Green Onion Donut?It depends on individual dietary needs. The cake is lower in sugar, while the donut may be higher in calories due to added sugar.
  2. Can I make Green Onion Cake or Green Onion Donut at home?Yes, there are numerous recipes available online for both dishes.
  3. Where can I try Green Onion Cake or Donut?Many Chinese restaurants serve Green Onion Cake, while Green Onion Donuts might be found at innovative bakeries or fusion cafes.
  4. Which one is more popular?Both are loved by different groups of people. Traditionalists might prefer the cake, while those who enjoy culinary innovation might opt for the donut.
  5. Can I use other types of onions in these dishes?Yes, but green onions provide a unique flavor profile that other types of onions may not offer.


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