I love eating banh xeo. I love its deliciously crunchy texture and tasty fresh fillings.
Banh xeo is a Vietnamese savoury crepe made out of rice flour, water, coconut milk, mung beans and turmeric powder which gives the crepe a vibrant yellow colour (not all recipes add mung beans to the batter but I like to add them in to add an extra dimension of flavour and it also contributes to the colour).
Banh xeo derives its name from the sizzling sound created when the batter hits the frying pan of hot oil. They are stuffed with pork, shrimp, mung beans, bean sprouts and pan fried until crispy. It is served with lettuce, cucumber and fresh herbs, and dipped in some nuco cham. It encompasses all those elements that people find attractive about Vietnamese food – it’s fragrant, packs with flavour, colourful and uses lots of fresh ingredients.
• peanut oil
For Batter (enough for 6-8 crepes depending on how much batter is used for each crepe and size of frying pan)
• 1 cup rice flour
• 1 ½ cup coconut milk
• ~ ½ cup water
• ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
• ½ teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ¾ cup yellow mung beans (cooked)
• 1 thinly sliced onion
• ~ 1 cup yellow mung beans (cooked)
• ~200g thinly sliced pork belly
• ~ 20 prawns
• ~ 400-500g bean sprouts
• Seasoning for pork and prawns – crushed garlic, fish sauce, salt and pepper
• mint leaves
• thinly sliced cucumber
• grated or julienne carrot
Prep mung beans
Prep 1 cup of dried mung beans, quantity will double when cooked!
In a bowl, wash mung beans thoroughly and soak for at least 3-4 hours before cooking.
Drain, and place mung beans in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil, then lower heat and cook mung beans for 15-20 minutes until the mung beans are soft and tender.
Drain well and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the pork with a splash of fish sauce, some crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Fry pork until cooked/lightly browned and set aside.
Leave the shell of the prawns and remove the heads and gut. In a bowl, marinate with a splash of fish sauce, some crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Lightly fry prawns with shell on until cooked, let cool, then remove the shells and set aside.
NB: I left the prawn shells on so that the prawns would remain tender and not overcook. Alternatively, can use small shrimp without shell and marinate for 30 minutes, then lightly fry till pink.
Place ¾ cup of cooked mung beans in a blender and pulse a few times, then add in coconut milk and process to a fine puree.
In a bowl, combine dry ingredients together – rice flour, sugar, salt and turmeric.
Whisk in mung bean/coconut mixture into the dry ingredients to make a thick batter, then slowly beat in enough water to make a thin crepe batter.
(The batter should be quite thin and runny.)
Set aside batter mixture for 30 minutes to rest.
NB: Mixed batter can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Making the Crepe
Peanut oil is spread over a large frying pan and heated well.
Lightly fry sliced onions in pan.
Spoon one ladle full of batter into pan – one hand is used to pour the mixture in fast, while the other hand is used to swirl/revolve the pan quickly to spread the batter around the pan evenly and coat the bottom.
Then scatter cooked mung beans onto the batter.
Add pork, prawns and bean sprouts onto one half of the crepe.
Cook the crepe for around 3-4 minutes. As soon as the edges turn crispy with a yellow/golden brown colour, the crepe is ready to be served.
Fold the crepe in half and slide onto a warm plate.
(Can keep cooked banh xeo warm in the over at around 100C, while finishing the rest of the crepes)
Serve crepe with dipping sauce – Nuoc Cham.
Banh Xeo can be eaten on its own or pieces can be broken off and wrapped in lettuce with herbs.
To make nuoc cham – combine ¼ cup of fish sauce, ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan and cook on a low heat, continually stirring until the sugar dissolves and just before boiling point is reached. Set aside to cool. Stir in 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice. Then add in 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 finely chopped small red chilli and some grated carrot.