Breakfast Club: How to Make a Traditional Hopper

They’re called okonomiyaki in Japan; crêpes in France and dosas in India—every culture has their version of flapjacks.

Hoppers, from the small island nation of Sri Lanka, are comprised of a fermented batter made of rice flour, coconut milk and spices, and can be either sweet or savory. When cooked, a hopper resembles that of a bowl with crisp, golden edges and a doughy center. A fried egg is often the focal point of the hopper, and is often dressed up with curries and spices.

At 1601 Bar & Kitchen, a contemporary Sri Lankan restaurant in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, chef Brian Fernando serves up a traditional hopper with a jidori egg and sambols.

Like the French crêpe, a special pan is required to make a hopper, and they can easily be found online. “The only versions I have seen are teflon coated, which work fine for home use,” says Fernando. “At the restaurant we use aluminum pans that are only available in Sri Lanka.

Up your griddlecake game with Fernando’s hopper recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Brian Fernando, 1601 Bar & Kitchen, San Francisco

*This will make more than 6 hoppers, but is difficult to reduce the portion.


60 milliliters lukewarm water
8 grams dry activated yeast
55 grams granulated sugar, divided
250 grams sifted rice flour
100 grams cooked basmati rice
1 can (400ml) coconut milk
6 whole eggs
nonstick spray


1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and 5 grams granulated sugar and set aside.

2. Combine the rice flour and remaining 50 grams granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl; set aside and reserve.

3. Blend the basmati rice and coconut milk to form a fairly thick but pourable paste; add to the sugar-flour mixture. Add about 125 milliliters of additional warm water to the blender in order to get most of the rice paste out and transfer to a bowl.

4. Once the yeast mixture has doubled in size, add to the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a whisk, making sure to get out all the lumps, adding more lukewarm water (115˚F) as needed. The texture should resemble pancake batter. Keep in a warm dry place for 4 to 5 hours.

5. Heat a hopper pan until barely smoking and spray with a generous amount of nonstick spray. Add 4 ounces of the batter to the middle of the pan and rotate until the entire surface is coated. Cook over medium heat until the batter begins to brown slightly. Add an egg and lower the heat. Cook for about 1 minute until the white just begins to set. Turn the heat to high for about 10 seconds and immediately cover with a lid and turn the heat off. Once the albumen has fully cooked, remove from the pan using an offset spatula. The yolk should still be runny. Serve immediately.

Images courtesy of 1601 Bar & Kitchen.

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