Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe - Banh Xeo

Hamburgers, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Mac 'n Cheese are pretty typical comfort foods for the typical American. I however, basically ate Vietnamese food throughout my childhood so my comfort foods are a little different. My all time favorite meal EVER is Banh Xeo (say-oh).

Banh Xeo is basically a turf and surf Vietnamese crepe. Xeo means "sizzling" in Vietnamese, the sound it makes when you pour the crepe batter into the pan, hence the literal translation of Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe. The crepe is made from rice flour and tumeric. I buy it prepackaged from the Asian store for a dollar.

Each package makes about 12-15.

Here is my mom's recipe. She has two recipes that cannot be topped in my book and this is one of them. I have yet to find a restaurant that can top her banh xeo.

Banh Xeo

  • 1 /2 lb pork butt, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 2 - 2.5 cups water
Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce)

Makes ¾ cup
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (1 fat, thin skin lime)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce

Optional additions:
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 or 2 Thai chilis, thinly sliced or 1 teaspoon store bought (tuong ot toi)

1. Combine the lime juice, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste and ask yourself this question: Does this limeade taste good? Adjust the flavors to balance out the sweet and sour.

2. Finish with fish sauce. Add the fish sauce and any of the optional ingredients. Taste again and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy.

Making Banh Xeo

Prepare the batter - add about 2 - 2.5 cups of water to the banh xeo package.

It should be the consistancy of butter milk. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice the onions and wash the bean sprouts.

Peel, de-vein and cook the shrimp in a little oil.

Slice the pork and season with salt, sugar and pepper. Saute the pork until cooked in hot oil.

Set all the ingredients by the cook top for easy access.

On high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of cooking oil in a nonstick frying pan and saute a few pieces of pork, onion slices and shrimp. Distribute the shrimp and pork evenly prior to adding the batter. Don’t use too much filling–you don’t want to overload the crepes.

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.

Next, add a handful of bean sprouts and place it on the crepe. Place 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?)

When golden and nicely browned, using the flexible spatula carefully flip the crepe in half. Don’t try to lift the entire 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, I generally tell my guests to dig in right away while it is hot.

Inside the crepe is filled with so much yumminess.

Serve with lettuce and dipping sauce

Cut a piece of the crepe, wrap with green leaf lettuce and dip into the dipping sauce.

Banh Xeo is a lot of work so I don't make it that often, but when I do make it, it is so worth the time and energy.

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