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Vietnamese Crepes : bánh xèo

Vietnamese Crepes

Vietnamese Crepes

I love Vietnamese food. The fresh herbs, the hot sweet and salty sauces, the intense kick of lime and the crunch of raw vegetables are a delicious counterpoint to rich and sticky pork and chicken. Recently, eating out in a Vietnamese cafe with friends, we ordered from the street food menu. The crepes, bánh xèo, were truly memorable for all the reasons I just mentioned so I vowed to myself then and there to attempt to make them at home.

My Vietnamese cookbooks gave me permission to freewheel with the fresh herbs and leafy fillings, but the recent pancake had morsels of sticky braised pork belly inside and that was too tempting to ignore. Slow cooking a piece of pork belly in master stock was the easy part.

The crepes on the other hand were a major challenge. What can go wrong making pancakes?

Firstly I learned the value of explicit recipe instructions. My first pancakes were impossible to turn or lift out of the pan and tasted terrible. I realised at this point that rice flour in the recipe meant glutinous rice flour. I had chosen coarse brown rice flour. I was so annoyed I abandoned that recipe altogether and chose an alternative.

Again I had problems. I was about to give up then I realised all the corn starch has dropped out of the batter and was sitting in the bottom of the bowl. The second thing I learned was to read the method carefully. I had made the assumption that I was cooking pancakes like those I cook for breakfast. More fool me. When using cornstarch in pancakes, the batter needs to be whisked just before pouring to make it homogenous.

This was NOT like cooking regular breakfast pancake or crepes.

While the recipe stated the pan size and recommended a non stick surface, neither worked for me. I had much more control by using a small, well seasoned cast iron pan, my regular pancake pan. Quite by accident or perhaps carelessness I then found the pan needed to be very hot and the amount of oil in the pan was critical. An oiled pan wasn’t enough. It needed a little puddle so that the batter bubbled immediately it hit the pan and fried to crispness. 

It was a steep learning curve but I’m so glad I persisted because our bánh xèo were delicious.

The vegetables: I used, mung bean shoots, snow pea shoots, finely julienned carrot, fresh coriander leaves, fresh mint leaves, finely shredded iceberg lettuce.

The pork: Braise a piece of rindless belly pork, about 500g for 1 1/2 hours in master stock. Remove the pork from the stock then use 2 forks to shred the meat. Pour 1/2 cup of stock over the meat, then chill overnight. When ready to serve, reheat the pork in a hot pan, cooking until the stock has totally reduced and the meat is glazed

Crepe recipe for bánh xèo ( V slightly modified Charles Phan “Vietnamese Home Cooking”)

1 cup glutinous rice flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 cups water

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

2 tablespoons snipped garlic chives

peanut oil for cooking

To make the batter put all the dry ingredients, except the chives into a bowl. 

Whisk to combine.

Add the water and coconut milk and whisk until smooth.

Set aside to rest for 10 minutes then stir in the chives.

Choose your favourite pancake pan and preheat until it’s very hot. 

Add 2 teaspoons of peanut oil, stir the batter*, then pour a small amount into the pan, immediately swirling the batter to lightly coat the pan. It should splutter and bubble.

When the top surface is almost cooked scatter over a few pieces of pork.

When the crepe is well browned and crisp around the edges, loosen it from the pan with a palette knife the slide it onto a plate

Add some vegetables, drizzle with sauce, fold and eat immediately

*It’s important to stir the batter before you cook each crepe as the cornstarch will drop 

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

22 comments on “Vietnamese Crepes : bánh xèo

  1. Pat @ Wholesome Kitchen
    July 11, 2018

    This is a really nice comforting dish! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Coriander and peanut “pesto” | Please Pass the Recipe

  3. Rosy Mathew
    June 19, 2018

    I love the taste of Vietnamese food. I tired for the first time with a friend few months. I ordered pho which everyone talks. I still remember that meal. The broth was so tasty and felt so good to have something warm on a cold day in December. The brisket, flank tasted really good. Trying to eat the noodle with the chopsticks was the most hardest thing to do. At last, I got tired and used a fork 🙂 but overall, it was a great experience trying a new cuisine. Hope to try something new next time.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 19, 2018

      Chopsticks take a lot of practice. There’s lots of finger food in Vietnamese cuisine, much easier…

      Like

  4. Gather and Graze
    June 17, 2018

    I love the flavours of Vietnamese food too Sandra, so can imagine these pancakes would be totally delicious. Thanks for your persistence in getting the pancake batter and technique right… it’s quite possible I would have caved after the first couple of tries!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 19, 2018

      I came close to giving up, but I couldn’t let it beat me. Looking forward to travel in Vietnam later this year, all that glorious food…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda Duffin
    June 16, 2018

    This sounds amazing, Sandra, love the recipe for the master stock, too. A must-try.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 16, 2018

      Thanks Linda. Master stock is invaluable in my kitchen, a true taste of SE Asia. I hope you like it..

      Liked by 1 person

  6. StefanGourmet
    June 16, 2018

    This sounds incredible and I have to try this. The only time I’ve ever eaten Vietnamese food at a restaurant was in Australia by the way.

    Like

  7. marymtf
    June 15, 2018

    I’m glad that we can take advantage of your steep learning curve.

    Like

  8. Eha
    June 15, 2018

    Thank you for this! Have eaten about 70% SE and S Asian for decades but Vietnamese for fresh tastes and Korean as a late coming interest are my current go-tos 🙂 ! Like your batter with its coconut milk, turmeric and garlic chive overtones and shall copy the way you have cooked the pork . . . perchance a weekend trial if time suffices . . .

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 15, 2018

      I think SE Asian food really suits our climate and lifestyle. The master sock is great for beef, pork, chicken, duck and beef. Strain it when you’ve finished cooking and freeze it for another occasion. Just add fresh spices. I think you’ll like it …

      Like

  9. Sherry Mackay
    June 15, 2018

    here i am trying to comment again:) WordPress suddenly doesn’t like me anymore. Anyway- just saying we like vietnamese food too. good on you for all the attempts to get it right. sounds like making the crepes was similar to making an omelette for stir-fry – a small puddle of very hot oil so it doesn’t stick to the pan. have a good weekend. cheers sherry

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 15, 2018

      Oh dear, I think it’s worse since the US/Euro privacy laws came in. I stuggled with a lot of IMKers comments. Viet food really suits my diet and my palate. 😘

      Like

  10. chef mimi
    June 14, 2018

    Wow, this does sound challenging! Glad you persisted, though – what a fabulous meal!

    Like

  11. Debi @ An Evolving Life
    June 14, 2018

    I’m intrigued by the action of the cornflour “dropping to the bottom of the bowl”. I think I know what you mean – that white sludge that collects on the bottom of the bowl. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with stir fry marinades. I’m also glad you don’t have to flip this pancake – always tricky!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      June 15, 2018

      Traps for young players, the way cornflour behaves. Cooked more the next day, no problems Despite the difficulties this is worth persevering with. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  12. katechiconi
    June 14, 2018

    I reckon these pancakes would be useful for all sorts of purposes. Thank you for the recipe and tips!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      June 15, 2018

      I agree lots a great dishes could use these crepes. Happy to help 😃

      Like

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