My final recipe for AFF Indochina happens to be a popular one as we have already seen a few submissions of this delectable treat: Banh Xeo. This is another dish I’ve never actually tried in a Vietnamese restaurant but now I think I have fallen in love with it! Banh Xeo literally means “sizzling cake” and it refers to a thin crepe filled with a variety of ingredients, commonly prawns, pork and beansprouts. Served with plenty of herbs and green lettuce, it’s meant to be enjoyed as a snack and usually sold by the street vendors in Vietnam. However, there is also a Cambodian version, and it’s even popular in Thailand too. Not difficult to see why as it’s so delicious!
Even though there’s no formal evidence pinpointing its origin, I have a feeling that this is inspired by the French’s crepes. Now if anyone can clarify that for me it would be fabulous! The local adaptation, however, is swapping the wheat flour for rice flour, and the addition of turmeric and coconut milk in the batter. Not unlike the Roti Jala we have here, though the texture of Banh Xeo is crispier.
There are few variations of this recipe however, and each recipe has a different ratio of flour: liquid. The first time I made it, my batter was a bit thicker resulting in a slightly fluffier crepe. My second attempt has a bit more liquid so it was nice and thin and crispy. I would say that the thinner version is more authentic. My first attempt also has a little more fillings and it was difficult to fold it over, hence the above presentation. Nevertheless I was happy to be able to enjoy this more than once!
Banh Xeo (makes 2-3 crepes depending on the pan size) adapted from Ninemsn.com
100 gm rice flour
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
150ml coconut milk
50ml Water (adjust to desire consistency)
200g Pork belly, thinly sliced
100g Small/Medium Prawns
100g Bean sprouts
To serve: lettuce, Thai basil, mint and coriander
1/3 cup fish sauce, or to taste
1/3 cup lime juice, or to taste
1 red birdseye chilli, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
(if you are making a smaller portion, just halve everything)
For batter, combine rice flour and turmeric in a bowl, then whisk in coconut milk and water. Set aside to rest until needed.
Meanwhile, for nuoc cham, combine ingredients in a small bowl with little bit of water, whisk to combine and season to taste (it should taste sweet, salty, sour and hot).
Heat coconut oil in a wok over high heat, add pork, prawns and garlic and stir-fry until just done (1-2 minutes). Remove from pan and clean the pan for the crepes.
Heat more coconut oil in the pan over high heat, add a ladleful of batter, swirl to cover pan thinly and cook until golden (3-4 minutes). Scatter pork, prawns, spring onions and bean sprouts over half the banh xeo, fold over other half to cover filling, then slide onto serving plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil, batter and filling, wiping pan with absorbent paper between batches, and serve with lettuce, herbs and nuoc cham.
The way to enjoy this would be to cut the banh xeo into smaller pieces, and place a bit of everything along with the herbs onto a piece to lettuce, dip in the Nuoc Cham and then eat with your hands! It can get messy, so I don’t suggest eating this during a date. But so much fun! Playing with food is therapeutic, I say. Taste wise? The crepe has a lovely aroma from the coconut, and the nuoc cham completes the picture. And need I mention the wonderful textural contrast? I think I will be eating everything with lettuce from now on. Haha.
Oh and here’s a pic of my second attempt:
Thank you everyone for your delicious contribution for AFF Indochina! I almost managed to finish a whole bottle of fish sauce this month for these recipes.