Why yes, now that you ask, I AM obsessed with vietnamese food. Especially these babies. I probably make bánh xèo at least once a week. Crispy pancakes that taste of creamy coconut and turmeric, wrapped up with fresh herbs and vegetables and dipped in a savory spicy sauce. YUM!
Traditionally, these are made with shrimp and pork, which I do not eat. I use tofu, mushrooms or sliced vegetable sausage instead. Other important things that you should not forgo are mint, cucumber, and bean sprouts. But the other fillings are flexible.
Makes about five crepes/bánh xèo
1 cup Bánh xèo flour (or rice flour mixed with a tsp of corn starch) from asian market
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (or more if batter is too thick. the batter should be thin like crepe batter) or coconut cream but this is thicker than coconut milk so add a little water
a splash of light beer or lager (really helps with the crispiness)
a light vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, sliced finely
mushrooms, vegetable sausage or tofu, sliced
For the filling:
fresh herbs like mint, basil, cilantro
sliced carrot (optional)
large lettuce leaves like romaine, green leaf or mustard greens to wrap up everything, (optional)
For the vegetarian sauce (traditionally fish sauce, not soy sauce is used):
3 tbs soy sauce (or vegetarian fish sauce)
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced onion, carrot and cilantro
slivers of fresh chili for spiciness
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbs of water (if needed)
1) Prepare all the vegetables and the dipping sauce first. Then you can fry each crepe and eat it hot as it comes out of the frying pan.
2) Make the batter by whisking the banh xeo flour with turmeric, pinch of salt, coconut milk and splash of beer–about 1/4 cup–until smooth.
3) Heat up a good dollop of oil in a small to medium non-stick frying pan. Banh xeo is named after the sizzling sound the batter makes when it hits the frying pan so you want enough oil to hear it sizzle!
4) Add a few pieces of thin sliced onion and a few of the mushroom or tofu slices. Fry on medium-high heat until starting to cook, then ladle in the batter. How much will depend on the size of your frying pan/crepe. I use a small ceramic frying pan to make fairly small crepes. The trick is the same as normal crepes–ladle in the batter, and then swirl around so that the batter coats the pan evenly. You may need to practice this a few times to get it right.
5) Cover the crepe with a lid to cook the top of it. Keep the heat on medium high to crisp up the edges of the crepe and make the bottom nice and golden brown.
6) When done cooking –only a minute or two–fill half with fresh bean sprouts and then fold over. One crepe is done! Now add more oil and cook the next.
7) To eat: either stuff the crepes with cucumber and herbs and eat with knife and fork (and the dipping sauce!). Or cut in half and use a large lettuce leaf as a wrapper to eat the crepe halves with the fresh herbs and dipping sauce.