A serious question began to brew as I waited in line for the green onion egg pancake stand that always has a ton of people. I happened to end really early today so I managed to go when there were only about 5 people in front of me.
It’s drizzling outside so I took it home and plated it, for that slow food aesthetic.
Why are large griddle pans round?
As in the griddle pans that they use for making large sheets (around 1.5 feet in diameter) of green onion pancakes, or even the ones that use to grill dumplings. When they make green onion pancakes in round pans and then cut them, the wedges are then sliced into more uneven bite-size pieces, so it’s hard to gauge the angle at which you can succesfully pick a piece up with a skewer. You also end up with fewer crispy edges (best part!) with the same surface area.
Also, the big round pans in the street food carts lead to unever food prep space around the pan itself, so instead of having a nice rectangular area to chop ingredients, you’re left with irregular curves or need to add side flaps to your cart to prep food.
I can understand why small crepe pans are round, because it’s easier to tilt the pan and then swirl the batter around. In large griddles, though, you can’t just lift the whole thing and swirl it around, you need to use some utensil to push the batter. For big crepes, you can use a wooden spreader to perfectly reach the edges of the round griddle. That doesn’t work for batter with chunky ingredients, ie green onions + egg. You need to use a spatula to spread things.
But why are soup pots round? Is it because it’s easier to scrape down the sides when you’re cleaning it? Large griddles are more shallow so it shouldn’t make that much difference in terms of cleaning.
Maybe it’s for transport then? Heavy griddles, when washed, might be tilted on their side and then rolled away to somewhere else to dry. These griddles aren’t that massive though, so I can’t imagine that someone would lift them and roll them like a wheel.
Maybe then it’s for flipping. With a square or rectangular griddle, when you pick up the entire piece and flip, you have to match the corners. But with a round griddle you don’t have that problem, you pick it up, flip, and just make sure it lands back in the pot. Especially when your food is so large and floppy, it can be hard to make sure you rotate it just right to fit within a square or a rectangle. Obviously you can put small round splotches inside a rectangular pan, but then you’re not maximizing your pan’s surface area.
So is that the reason why green onion pancake griddles are round? What about the griddles for grilled dumplings and buns? Can you fit more circles inside a larger circle than you can inside a rectangle? Or is it that large circle griddles are just mass produced, so dumpling merchants buy those types of food carts despite it not being ideal for maximizing grilling for their type of food?
An answer on Quora said it’s because circular pans heat evenly on a circular heat source. Then why not make a rectangular heat source?
Food for thought.