Banh xeo recipe has been sitting in our queue for way too long. A while back, we had a small dinner party and made Banh xeo (Vietnamese sizzling crepes). We took advantage of the outdoors burner and were flipping banh xeo for our guests like street vendors in Vietnam. We were smokin I tell ya! Banh xeo is savory and delicate crepe made of rice flour, turmeric powder, and coconut milk and filled with various meats such as pork, shrimp and veggies such as bean sprouts or mung beans. Each region in Vietnam has it’s slight variation with the southern region larger and having more veggies and mung beans and the central region typically smaller, poured in a mode, and without the mung beans.
As in our report of Van Restaurant’s banh xeo, the distinction between a good versus a great banh xeo is the thinness and crispiness of the crepes. We have a few tricks up our sleeves to make ours crispy…the first is cook the bean sprouts ahead of time. Second is to use beer in the batter (totally unproven but we seem to think it does compared with water), and third, vary the heat and add a bit of oil during the cooking process as described below.
- 1 /2 lb pork butt, cut into thin slices
- 1/2 ts salt
- 1/2 ts sugar
- 1/2 ts fish sauce
- black pepper
- 1/2 lb of shrimp (medium to large size, deveined and peeled)
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cups of bean sprouts (in small bowl wrapped in plastic wrap, steam small batches in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes, drain and set aside)
- 1 package of banh xeo mix (basically rice flour either with turmeric pre-mixed or separate–we used the package above, but many brands are available)
- 3 cups of water or beer
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 cup of chopped scallions
- 1/2 ts salt
Before starting to pour your crepes, make sure you have have plenty of counter space and line up all your ingredients ready to go–largest nonstick pan you have, a ladle and flexible spatula, batter, pork, shrimp, onions, and small bowl of cooking oil.
Stir batter with ladle and add about 3/4 quarter ladle full into the center of the pan and quickly swirl the pan to evenly distribute a thin layer batter to the very edges of the pan. Try to go for as thin a layer as possible. You may have to adjust how much batter you use depending on how big your pan is.
Place a lid over for about 1.5 minutes or so. When you check the crepe notice that the area of uncooked batter in the center will get smaller and smaller (see above). When the crepe is almost completely cooked, the edges of the crepe start to curl up a bit and turn golden brown. Now take another small amount of cooking oil in a spoon distribute oil around the edges so the crepe gets crispy, won’t burn, and will be easier to flip (see how the edges are lifting off the pan?–below)
Now add the pre-steamed beansprouts to one side of the crepe. Turn the heat down to medium heat and place the lid over for another 1 minute or until gold brown. Using the flexible spatula carefully flip over the other half. When golden and nicely browned, don’t try to lift the crepe out of the pan with a spatula….just tilt the pan and slide the crepe over to a plate and serve immediately. When pouring the next crepe, add more oil as needed.
Unfortunately, this is something that doesn’t hold well if made in advance–no matter how crispy you make it, after some time banh xeo will lose it’s crispiness. So don’t have guests wait–tell them to dig in right away!
Enjoy with plenty of lettuce, mustard greens, mints, basil, and perilla. You can either break off small pieces of banh xeo and form lettuce wraps or combine all the herbs and break off some banh xeo and eat in a bowl. Some Vietnamese even wrap the banh xeo spring roll style with rice paper. Dip or dress with nuoc mam cham dipping sauce along with pickled carrots and daikon.
So that’s our trick to get banh xeo crispy, thin, and without breaking. What are your tricks? But while we emphasize thin and crispy, even a noncrispy and broken banh xeo is still delicious!
Happy Holidays and a Delicious and Joyful New Years to everyone!