Banh Bot Loc (Vietnamese Clear Shrimp and Pork Dumplings)

banh bot loc
My mom actually comes from a family of 9 children and never got past the 6th grade in Vietnam because in order to support the family, she had be in charge of selling our family’s meat and butcher stall a local market near our family’s house, Cho Nhat Tao near Nguyen Tri Phuong and Ba Hat street in District 10 of Saigon. The 6th grade! I think I was busy skateboarding, listening to 80′s new wave and playing nintendo at that age.
For those who have never been to Vietnam, some of the best foods are not in restaurants, but at food stalls in markets or make shift restaurants along the street where they make one or two items and make it with pride extremely well. It was here where she learned her cooking skills to cook for the entire family. She taught my uncle and aunt how to cook and now the both have restaurants in Hartford.
So when my family was over a few weeks ago, it was good to cook with her and learn a new dish because most of the time I’m always calling her about certain recipes or techniques. We decided to make banh bot loc which is another central Vietnamese specialty made of tapoica flour which becomes clear and translucent when cooked. While the shrimp and pork filling in these dumplings are similar to many Asian dumplings, what sets this apart is its characteristic chewiness. While it shouldn’t be jaw-numbing, the chewy and sticky consistency is a textural delight that we love.
There are two major variations of this dish. One is that each dumpling is wrapped and steamed in banana leaf. The other is to boil the dumplings sans banana leaf. The banana leaf certainly adds a nice aroma to it, but is certainly more time consuming and requires a totally different method of preparation compared to without banana leaf. Below is my mom’s quick and easy recipe for banh bot loc sans banana leaf.
Banh Bot Loc (Vietnamese Clear Shrimp/Pork Dumplings)
Printable Recipe

Dough
  • 1 package of banh bot loc mix (we like the 4 Elephant brand–one bag makes about 20 dumplings)
  • 1.5 cups of boiling water
Stuffing
  • 1/4 lb shrimp cleaned and deviened (we like black tiger shrimp -you can use larger shrimp cut into 1/4 inch small pieces, or use whole small shrimps–some people like to keep the head and shell on)
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1/2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs minced shallots
(optional)
  • 1/4 lb pork belly, cut into very small strips about 1/4 inch.
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 ts annato seeds
Fried onion/Onion oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 8 tbs olive oil
Cold water bath
A bit of all purpose flour to prevent dough from sticking
Nuoc mam cham
Pickled carrots and daikon
Method:
Marinate the shrimp with fish sauce, shallots, sugar and pepper for about 1/2 hr.
Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, when hot, add about 1 ts annato seeds. Continue heat to allow color to steep into oil. Once red, strain seeds. Fry the small peices of pork belly in annatto seed oil until cooked. It will be a nice red color. Drain off excess oil from the pork belly. (My mom does not add the pork belly and uses shrimp only as she thinks it’s too fatty)
Fry onions in oil until golden brown and drain. Save onion infused oil and set aside. (If you want to skip this step, just buy the pre fried onions and use plain olive oil)

 

banh bot loc
Now you’re ready to make the dough. Making the dough the proper consistancy is the hardest part of this dish. Do not follow the instructions on the back of the package. It’s the directions for making banh bot loc in banana leaves. Add flour package to mixing bowl. Bring 1.5 cups of water to boil and add mixing bowl. Immediately begin stirring with spatula. After about 1 minute when the water is less hot, use your hands to knead and mix the flour well. The dough should be a bit pliable, sort of the consistency of playdough–add a bit more water if it is too dry.

 

banh bot loc
Pinch all ball of dough about the size of a quarter and flatten to make into a small circle. Make sure the center of the dough is slightly thicker then the edges. Add a piece of shrimp and pork belly to the center and fold over, pinching the edges together. Use a fork to crimp the edges for a nice decorative touch. Keep hands dusted with a bit of flour for easier handlings of dough.
banh bot loc
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the banh bot loc and boil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The banh bot loc will float to the top. Strain and place in a cold water bath about 2-3 minutes. Drain well in colander and place in container. Now add about 3 tbs of onion infused oil and generous amounts of fried onions and gently mix well. This will keep the dumplings from sticking together.
Your banh bot loc is ready to serve with nuoc mam cham, pickled carrots and daikon.

banh bot loc

Thanks mom for showing us this recipe!
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54 Responses to “Banh Bot Loc (Vietnamese Clear Shrimp and Pork Dumplings)”

  1. 1

    Joy — August 16, 2009 @ 1:37 am

    What an absolutely wonderful dish! Please tell your mum I think she is wonderful!
    They are just exquisite!

  2. 2

    Ninette — August 16, 2009 @ 2:18 am

    Your photos keep getting better and better, if that's even possible. I want to dive right into your page and grab a couple of these dumplings! I've never had these before, and I want them NOW. I love learning about Vietnamese cuisine from you. I am so inspired!

  3. 3

    nikkipolani — August 16, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

    Oh, I love the chew of these beauties :-) And then to bite into the savory center. You've captured it all so lovingly.

  4. 4

    Ravenous Couple — August 16, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

    Joy: Thanks I'll let her know that her banh bot loc is a hit

    Ninette: Banh bot loc is a great Vietnamese appetizer dumping and we hope you enjoy. Thank you for the compliments on the photos:)

    Nikkipolani: We love the chewiness and texture of these dumplings too…sort of like tapioca pearls in boba drinks. Next time we will try different stuffings and let you know how it turns out. Thank you

  5. 5

    littlebirdhouse — August 16, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! They look so good. I'll have to try making them sometime in the next month or two… mmm.

  6. 6

    Anonymous — August 16, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

    i love your blog. it's great. and everything looks yum…

    i'm wondering would you know the basic recipe to make that sauce brodard serves with thier nem nuong cuon? :) not their recipe, of course.

  7. 7

    sophia jei — August 16, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

    wow. thank you for sharing this recipe. i was thinking and craving banh beo and bot loc and i found it here! i am always eager to check what new viet recipes you have for your blog. i don't know why i haven't subscribed to you yet! lol i should do the email update now! thank you again~
    -sophia

  8. 8

    ghweiss — August 17, 2009 @ 12:47 am

    This sounds great! I'd love to make them, and I have tapioca flour… what else is in the commercial mix you use?

  9. 9

    Ravenous Couple — August 17, 2009 @ 3:05 am

    littlebirdhouse: If you do make banh bot loc, please let us know how it goes!

    anonymous: the brodard sauce recipe is probably one of little saigon's best kept secret recipes. We get alot of requests for that and will probably have to post our rendition of it one day.

    sophia: We love our readers! Pass the word and thanks for subscribing! :)

    ghweiss: We've never made it straight with tapioca starch. The ingredients on the premade flour package includes corn starch but doesn't say what proportions are. The premade flour package is commonly found in most asian/vietnamese groceries so if you can get your hand on those it might be best.

  10. 10

    Marc @ NoRecipes — August 17, 2009 @ 5:40 am

    Awesome! I've always wondered how those translucent dumpling wrappers were made. I've been wanting to experiment with making Asian "ravioli's" using the clear wrappers. Thanks for the how to!

    These dumplings look amazing by the way! I love that their coated in fried onions.

  11. 11

    Ravenous Couple — August 18, 2009 @ 1:32 am

    Marc: Thanks Marc! You can almost call banh bot loc the Vietnamese version of the classic dim sum dumpling har gow

  12. 12

    HoustonWok — August 28, 2009 @ 1:39 am

    GUYS I LOVE YOUR SITE!!!! And Banh Bot Loc rocks! When I am in or around Little Saigon, there is this rock star restaurant called Quan Hy that has awesome Banh Bot Loc. However thanks for the recipe, I can save myself a trip to Cali and make it at home. Great pictures as well.
    Cheers,

  13. 13

    Ravenous Couple — August 28, 2009 @ 3:57 am

    Houstonwok: thank you! We like Quan Hy too, but there's other options now. Making banh bot loc at home is actually not that hard and quite fun!

  14. 14

    thuy — September 14, 2009 @ 1:50 am

    Thanks for this post. I have been caving banh bot loc for so long. I have tried several times to make the dough from scratch and also by following the instructions on the back of the bag. FAILURE! (I don't recall a banana leaf being involved on the recipe on the back.) Thanks for clearing that one up for me.

    Ohhh… I agree with anonymous poster above: help us out with the basic recipe of the sauce that Bodard serve with their nem nuong cuon Nha Trang.

  15. 15

    Ravenous Couple — September 14, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

    thuy: Give banh bot loc another try and let us know how it goes! As for the brodar sauce, one of these days when we have more time we'll try to make it.

  16. 16

    Anonymous — December 28, 2009 @ 5:25 am

    After reading about these dumplings, I decided to make it on my own. I followed your directions more or less, but only experience can help me with making the dough thin enough so that it's not too thick when cooked. Overall I am so happy with how they came out I froze the left overs and has been making a nice lunch or snack when I'm lazy.

  17. 17

    Ravenous Couple — December 28, 2009 @ 5:28 am

    Anonymous: We're so glad you enjoyed banh bot loc! Yes, you can definitely freeze the uncooked dumplings and then boil them for quick snack! Thanks again for the feedback!

  18. 18

    Anonymous — January 18, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    I remember making these w/ my mom & my hands would get sooo tired. Then when I ate it my jaw would get soooo tired.

    Delicious yes but very tedious childhood memories …

  19. 19

    Huong — January 30, 2010 @ 7:42 am

    I love this big mine was never turn out this good. I'll try your recipe this weekend! Thanks for sharing.

  20. 20

    Ravenous Couple — January 30, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    Huong: Do report back on how the banh bot loc goes for you!

  21. 21

    lynn — May 3, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

    Absolutely love your recipes and seeing the connections between Vietnamese and other cuisines.

    Keep up the great site!

  22. 22

    Mei — September 28, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    I love your dumpling, not sure i can boil my or not, I'll try. Thanks for sharing your lovely food and your pics are beautiful. I miss my Vietnam pork chop from HK, love to visit Vietnam one day. Mei

  23. 23

    Truc — November 9, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

    Your site is awesome and I believe this has been helping those who wanna experience the Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese cuisines as well. You're a star!

  24. 24

    Anonymous — February 10, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

    you don't cook the shrimp first before wrapping it?

  25. 25

    Ravenous Couple — February 10, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

    Vu and Anonymous: the small pieces of shrimp doesn't take that long to cook. But if you would rather cook it first, don't see why it would hurt. just don't over cook it.

  26. 26

    Vu — February 22, 2011 @ 12:24 am

    thank you, I love your site btw. was looking for a recipe similar to my moms and this is very close. Still hunting down the ingredients but I appreciate you guys putting up your recipes.

  27. 27

    Thao — May 10, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

    I love banh bot loc. Brings me back to my young days. Quick question though, I want to make the dough with tapioca starch and water, would you happen to know the ratio of each?

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — May 10th, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

      we’ve never made it with just the tapioca and water alone, just the mix.

  28. 28

    mady — June 4, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    Did you use the Banh Bot Loc flour or tapioca flour to make the dough?

    I bought a sachet of the banh bot loc (not same brand though cuz couldn`t find it), followed the dough recipe by adding the 1.5 c of very hot water to the flour and rather than coming to a ball, the flour literally melted and dissolved into the water. I stirred a few minutes but seeing that it was not coming together, I poured the “liquid dough” into a pot and heated it up the way I typically had to do ie per the bag’s recipe. I was able to salvage a bit of it by just doing the banh bot lot wrapped in the banana-plastic way.

    I wanted to do it your way cuz it resembles the bank khoi vat and it is chewier. Do you know what may have gone wrong? Was my water too hot or not enough (I used exactly 1.5 c and not more).

    Thanks

    Mady

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — June 4th, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

      we honestly can’t say about other brands as we haven’t really tried. perhaps we should try some other brands to see how this method works. sorry it doesn’t work out for you.

  29. 29

    Unique Culinary Careers: Lauren Shockey | DICED: The Official Blog of ICE — July 28, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

    [...] And I encountered many new Vietnamese dishes I’d never heard of before, like cha ca and banh bot loc.  And some of my favorite memories didn’t happen in the kitchen, but were the meals I shared [...]

  30. 30

    linh — December 31, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    Hi, I love your receipt. It is very helpful. i grew up in America , so i dont know how to read in viet but i love viet food. Now i can make viet food. Thank You.
    Please Keep up the great work.

  31. 31

    Judy L. — January 28, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

    I love your site! I tried making these tonight, but I ran into the same problem as Mady. I used the same flour that you recommended; added the boiling water, and got rock hard, breakable dough in the bowl that yet would also just liquify in your hands…what causes that? It was the weirdest thing! I tried adding more flour, then it just went powdery; so I tried adding more boiling water, then it went back the breakable yet liquidity when picked up. So I tried heating the dough over a double boiler to heat it up to make it more pliable (I was trying to save it at any event), but that didn’t work either. I ended up wrapping the filling in rice roll wraps so I could serve it.
    Any idea what I did wrong?
    Look forward to trying it again…it looks delicious!!!!

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

      hmm…this problem requires more investigation…we’ll ask mom and get back to you!

  32. 32

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  34. 34

    twinky — July 11, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    Look delicious… wish I have some right now in class…yummy.. :D

  35. 35

    Jessica — July 21, 2012 @ 2:35 am

    Hello! I wanted to ask if I can use straight tapioca flour for the dough instead of the Banh Bot Loc mix of tapioca flour and cornstarch? Thanks for sharing your recipe! I have been craving this dish from those little old ladies off the streets of Hue since I finished my 1-month stay last year!!

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — July 23rd, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

      Think u can, but we never tried. Might get really sticky though

  36. 36

    Carol — October 12, 2012 @ 1:26 am

    I tried making banh bot loc your way today and it did not turn out. As soon as I added the boiling hot water to the flour, it clumped up. I tried adding more water and stirring the dough but it was impossible. So I threw it away and started another batch. Followed the directions on the back of the package and it turned out perfect. Did anyone else have this problem?

  37. 37

    Tracey — January 13, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

    How can u make it so its not too chewing?
    Thank you!

  38. 38

    Cathy — April 8, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    Hi there! First of all i would like to say all your dishes are delicious! And you have inspired me more to be a better cook and to keep learning new recipes. I gotta say of all the different Vietnamese appetizers out there like Banh gio, Banh khot, Banh beo. Banh bot loc has got to be my top favorite choice! I have always wanted to learn how to mak this and have decided to make it yesterday. Oh my, It wasn’t as easy as I thought. My dough didn’t turn out too well. Lets just say my whole kitchen was full of flour. You guys make it look soo easy! the dough was either so sticky to the point I had truoble pulling them off my hands, or it was either very thin like watery or either falling apart in chunks. i’ve wastes 3 bags! but luckily somehow theres an extra peice of ball that seems to turn out perfectly so i was able to make 4 dumplings out of it. Yes 4!! In all 3 bags, i only get to make 4 tiny dumplings LoL funny huh? And it was the most delicious dumplings ever hehe..and I had to shared too! Sigh, lets just say first time experience was terrible! But that doesn’t mean I would stop learning how to make it. I believe practice makes perfect. I just need more tips and advices on what I may be doing wrong when I think I did follow the instructions above. Is it because my water is way too hot?? Please advise! Because I’m in desperate help. Lol

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — April 9th, 2013 @ 9:13 am

      omg, we’re so glad that you have a such a great attitude. when working with flour and water, add less than required, ie. if i calls for 2 cups, add 1 and 3/4 c, then slowly add the remainder a few tbs at a time until you get the proper consistency. we love your enthusiasm and keep it up!

  39. 39

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  41. 41

    JennyPeers — August 6, 2013 @ 12:49 am

    Opps the mix was 2 cups of Tapioca starch.flour and HALF a cup of boiling water, not a cup – I used HALF a cup.

  42. 42

    JennyPeers — August 6, 2013 @ 12:55 am

    We don’t get the mixed flour in South Africa, therefore I had to use Tapioca starch – I have just read Cathy’s email and the exact same thing happened to me, the entire kitchen was covered with flour including the floor, and all I got out were 4 thick dumplings which I had to throw away. Eventually I ate the shrimps which I mixed into the sauce!

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  46. 46

    AnhThu — December 7, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    I tried making this and it didn’t go so well lol. All of mine broke off in the boiling water. I did make them with the banana leafs way and I find that that is much easier for me. But I love all of your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  47. 47

    Hua — August 24, 2014 @ 8:28 am

    I am trying this recipe out tonight! And I live right by your uncle’s restaurant in east hartford!

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — August 27th, 2014 @ 10:22 am

      this is actually one of the harder recipes, we may have to redo this one. hope you enjoy pho 501!

  48. 48

    List of hoi an hotels — November 30, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    Thanks for sharing. This kind of cake is very wonderful. Its taste is beautiful. If you go to Hoi An, Viet nam. Try it!

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