Bánh Xèo literally means “sizzling cake” in Vietnamese. The sizzling sound occurs when the rice flour batter is poured into a steaming hot pan to make a crepe. This crepe is then filled with pork belly, shrimp and bean sprouts served with lettuce, mustard greens and a variety of herbs. It is both healthy and decadent and a very popular dish among my cousins. The only problem is making the crepes fast enough to feed a large family.
Every family has a crepe recipe and the selection of accompaniments. My family likes the crepe very thin and light so we use beer and water in our batter. This recipe is rated easy and makes 8-10 crepes depending on the pan size.
1/2 lb of large shrimps
1/4 lb of pork belly
1 package of pre-mix banh xeo flour (combination of rice flour and regular flour)
1 can of coconut cream
1 cup of light beer
3 cups of water
1-2 cups of bean sprouts
1 yellow onion
3 stalks of scallions
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cracked black pepper
For the accompaniments:
a few stalks of Rau Ram or Vietnamese Coriander
a few stalks of Dap Ca or “fish mint”
a few stalks of Mint
1-2 bunch of Mustard Greens (if available)
1-2 bunches of any type of lettuce (I prefer Boston Bib lettuce to make it easier to wrap.)
Combine the following into a small bowl:
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar
6 tablespoons of warm water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Thai chili pepper, thinly slice
Combine the flour mix and turmeric (from the pre-mix banh xeo package) in a mixing bowl.
Diced 3 stalks of scallions. Add the scallions and 1 ¾ cup of coconut cream to the flour mixture.
Add 1 cup of beer and 2 cups of water to the mixture and whisk to incorporate. Let the mixture rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Thinly slice the pork belly.
Heat the pan on high and saute the pork with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Next, split the shrimps into halves and saute separately in a pan.
Thinly slice a yellow onion and set aside. Wash the bean sprouts and microwave them for 1 minute to soften the sprouts. Now you have all the components to make the crepe.
Heat a non stick pan on high heat with no oil. When the pan is steaming hot, add a hand ful of onions. Using a ladle that is big enough that can fill the pan in 1 scoop, pour the batter while moving the pan in a circular motion to evenly distribute the batter.
Once the batter dries after a few seconds, add some oil to the side of the pan in the same circular motion. This will crisp up the the crepe. The crepe should be paper thin.
Add a few slices of pork and shrimp to half of the crepe.
Once the crepe starts to brown along the edges and the bottom, add the bean sprouts to the same side as the filling.
Fold the crepe in half and serve with vegetables.
To eat the crepe, break off a piece and wrap the crepe in lettuce and herbs. Dip the wrap into fish sauce and enjoy.
Authors: Hung Nguyen and Chau Hoang