Bánh bột lọc is a transparent chewy dumpling made from tapioca flour and filled with minced pork and shrimp. The dumplings are then topped with fried shallots and served with sweet chili fish sauce. This is a specialty of Hue, the old imperial city in central Vietnam. My family originated from Hue so I grew up eating a lot of bánh bột lọc. This recipe is relatively easy but forming the dumpling does take some practice. The boiled dumplings are worth the effort, and making the dumplings is a fun activity to do as a group.
This recipe is rated medium in difficulty and takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to make.
1 lb of pork belly
8 large Tiger shrimp with heads
1 package of banh bot loc mix
1 package of tapioca starch
1 onion diced (enough for 4 tablespoons of diced onion)
1-2 red chili diced thinly
1 cup of chopped scallions
Chicken bouillon powder (“CBP”)
Make the filling:
Remove bones and skin from the pork belly. Slice the pork belly lengthwise into ⅛ inch thickness and cut again into smaller pieces.
Marinate the pork with the following: ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon of CBP, ⅛ teaspoon of ground pepper and 1 teaspoon of diced onion.
Prepare the shrimp by removing the shell head without removing the roe (the red stuff).
Remove the intestine that runs along the side of the shrimp.
Cut the shrimp into smaller pieces.
Marinate the shrimp with the following: ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of sugar, ⅛ teaspoon of ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of CBP and 1 teaspoon of diced onion.
In a pan on high heat, brown 1 tablespoon of diced onions with 3 tablespoons of oil. When the onions are browned, sauté the shrimp until the shrimp starts to turn white. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a second pan on high heat, brown 1 tablespoon of diced onions with 3 tablespoons of oil. When the onions are browned, sauté the pork for approx. 10 minutes or until it is cooked.
Turn the heat to medium and add the shrimps. Mix to incorporate.
Tip: You can make the color more vibrant by adding a mixture of 1 teaspoon of water, 1 drop of red food color and 2 drops of yellow food color to the mixture.
Season the meat with 1 tablespoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of fish sauce. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes to absorb the seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the dough:
Boil 2 cups of water with ½ teaspoon of salt for 1 to 2 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, add 1 ½ cup of banh bot loc mix and 1 ½ cup of tapioca starch. Leave ½ cup of starch in another bowl to add later. Add the boiling water one ladle at a time while stirring the dough.
Knead the flour to form into a malleable dough. Sprinkle additional tapioca starch to the dough if the dough is too wet while you continue to knead the dough.
Keep adding starch and knead the dough until the dough is pliable and has a pizza dough consistency.
Form the dough into a ball and cover in plastic wrap so it does not dry out.
Make the dumpling:
Taking a small section of the dough, roll out the dough until you get to a thickness that you can still stretch the dough without breaking the skin.
Use a round cutter and cut out a circle. Pull the dough out lightly to make it thinner.
Press your thumb in the middle of the circle to make a “well”. Add a few pieces of pork and shrimp to the “well”. Be careful not to over stuff the dumpling.
Fold the skin in half and using your thumb and 2nd finger, press together to close the skin along the edges. Push the filling toward the center as you do this.
Sprinkle the dumpling with some tapioca starch so the dumpling don’t stick to each other.
Make the scallion oil (you can do this while you wait for the water to boil):
Diced 1 cup of scallions and add some red chili.
In a pan, heat ¼ cup of oil with a white piece of the scallion. Once the scallion turns golden brown, remove from the heat.
Add the 1 cup of chopped scallion and red chili to the oil. Set aside.
Cook the dumpling:
Boil the water in a large pot and have a bowl of ice cold water next the pot.
Once the water comes to a boil, add the dumplings.
The dumpling will be cooked when they float to the top and cooked for another 30 seconds. The dumpling should be translucent.
Drop 1 dumpling into the water bath to test. If it is completely translucent, it is fully cooked. Remove the rest of the dumplings and place into the ice bath.
Drain the dumplings and place into a large bowl.
Add enough scallion oil so that the dumplings do not stick to each other. Add the fried shallots to the mixture for a crunch.
Make the sauce:
Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 ½ tablespoon of water and ¼ teaspoon of lime juice.
Add some chopped red chili for color and a little kick.
Enjoy this wonderful meal with your love ones.