Being passionate about Asian food, it is totally natural for me to love Vietnamese food as the cuisine from this part of the world is exceptional!
Some years ago, after having eaten those pancakes in diverse restaurants and having found them delicious, I decided to make my own. Since then, I cook this yummy dish quite often...
Those half-moon pancakes are called "Banh Xeo" in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and are a traditional speciality from the south of Vietnam. They are a kind of fast-food item that one can find nearly everywhere.
The word "Xeo" is an onomatopy that imitates the sizzling sound made by the oil in the pan when the pancakes are fried and "Banh" is the word for "cake" in Vietnamese...
The thin batter used for those crepes contains no eggs, only coconut milk, rice flour and is spiced with fish sauce and curcuma powder which gives this omelet look-alike a beautiful yellow colour. Different kinds of fillings can be used (meat, vegetable or seafood) and the recipe varies from family to family or from restaurant to restaurant. Although Vietnam's culinary traditions were highly influenced by the French colonialists, this kind of pancake existed long before the country got occupied...
This dish is simple to make, but taste-wise it has a wonderful and complex bouquet of different flavours all mingling together for your biggest delight! "Banh Xeo" is a very light meal which is ideal for the summer as it is fresh and healthy. This crisp golden pancake is a tantilizing example of how the food from Vietnam can be delicate yet loaded with flavors. Eating "Banh Xeo" is a pure sensual experience that transports you on a journey to a country where the cuisine is uniquely surprising and still quite unknown for many of us!...
The basic recipe was taken from "Easy Vietnamese Style Cookery" by The Australian Women's Weekly, but many details have been changed to make it my own...
Makes 4 pancakes
75g Rice flour
1/2 Tsp Ground curcuma
1/2 Tsp Castor sugar
2 Green shallots, thinly chopped
300ml Coconut milk
2 Eggs (~50g), lightly beaten
1 1/2 Tsp Fish sauce
230g Leftover roast beef, thinly sliced (bite sized)
70g Carrot, coarsly grated
100g Button mushrooms, thinly sliced
40g Bean sprouts
1 Small fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 Cup Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Nuoc Cham dipping sauce:
1 1/2 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Rice vinegar
5 Tbs Sweet chilli sauce
7-8 Tbs Fish sauce
1/2 Tbs Sesame oil
4 1/2 Tbs Lemon juice
1-2 Clove garlic, crushed
1. Mix together all ingredients for the sauce.
2. Pour into a pan and let simmer for about 2 minutes.
3. Taste and rectify seasoning if necessary and pour into a bowl. Let cool.
4. In bowl, combine together the rice flour, cornstarch, curcuma and sugar.
5. Mix together the eggs, coconut milk and fish sauce.
6. Gradually stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.
7. Mix to a smooth batter.
8. Add the green shallots.
9. In another bowl, combine together the beef, carrot, mushrooms, bean sprouts, chilli and coriander.
10. Heat 1 Tsp oil in a 20cm (7.9 inches) heavy-based omelette pan.
11. Pour 125ml (1/2 cup) of the batter into the pan.
12. Quickly tilt the pan to spread the batter.
13. Top pancake with a quarter of the beef mixture, cover and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
14. Fold the pancake in half.
16. Repeat the operations with the remaining batter and beef mixture.
Instead of beef meat, you can use 8 medium uncooked prawns, barbecued pork rashers/boneless pork chops, spam-like Vietnamese ham (Cha Lua) or any other kind of cooked meat (leftovers).
I didn't have any bean sprouts, so I used chinese cabbage instead.
The recipe is best made just before serving, but you can prepare the sauce a day ahead.
Pour a bit of the Nuoc Cham sauce over your pancake and eat while hot.
(Woman Selling Food -Pic by Yoram Weinreich www.trekearth.com)