Bánh xèo

I first made these in Hoian in a local cookery school where we made modest little pancakes which you wrapped with herbed salad and placed in rice papers to eat. Imagine my surprise when ordering the same in Saigon and a supersized crepe the size of a small baby arrived.

There are many different recipes for Bánh xèo which are a Vietnamese form of crepe. Some have egg, some use coconut milk, some just water. I find the coconut versions too cloying and without the egg I find they fall apart to easily. To get the flavour of coconut though you can use coconut oil for frying.

Before you start you will need either a large, good quality heavy frying pan or crepe maker and a thin spatula.

Ingredients

Pancakes

  • 150g rice flour
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 ml water
  • 2 tbs chopped chives
  • 200g cooked prawns or fried sliced mushrooms.
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • Coconut oil

Dipping sauce (Nước chấm)

  • 3 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1/2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs sugar or 1/2 tsp stevia
  • 1 clove garlic sliced
  • 1 small green chilli

Salad

Herb mix made up of three large handfuls of a mixture of basil, coriander, mint, watercress, spring onions and red chilli

8 large lettuce leaves or 8 extra thin (no soak) Vietnamese rice papers to wrap round the pancake to eat.

Method:

First make the batter mixture by putting the rice flour, turmeric, salt and chives in a bowl. Measure the water in a jug and beat the egg in to the water. Gradually add the water egg mix to the rice flour beating vigorously until a smooth batter is formed. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

If you want to keep your first pancakes warm whilst you continue cooking the rest, either turn on your warming oven if you have one or set a normal oven to 100 C or 212 F.

Put the herb mix in to a serving bowl, slicing the chillies and spring onions and shredding any larger herbs. Mix well.

Make the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients except the chilli and garlic. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Vietnamese sauces are all about balance. It should have a good balance between salt, sour and sweet.  Taste to ensure it has the right balance, adding more where necessary. Split in to two small bowls and sprinkle the garlic and chilli over the two.

To make the pancakes remove the batter from the fridge.

Heat the frying pan with a little coconut oil until sizzling hot.

Stir the batter very well and place a ladle full in to the frying pan. You want to make a pancake about 20cm big.

After a minute start testing the edges with a spatula. When they start lifting easily begin to release the pancake.

If not using a non stick pan add a little more coconut oil to the pan to ensure it doesn’t stick.

Spread a quarter of the prawns and bean sprouts over one half of the pancake.

Fold the other half of the pancake over.

Fry until the base is golden brown then flip and repeat on the other side.Remove to a chopping board and slice in two. Either serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven whilst you repeat with the remaining batter mixture.

Allow guests to make their own pancakes wraps with some pancake, herb mix and wrapped in a lettuce leaf or rice paper and dipped in the Nước chấm.