Or cheung fun (dim sum). Vietnamese bánh cuốn is usually filled with shrimp or ground pork. I’ve had these shiny, slippery rice noodles plain, served with nothing but a yummy sauce in dim sum restaurants. They were good but I knew there were better vegan options out there.
Experimenting at home, I tried a few different vegan versions–simple avocado and basil, edamame, fried tofu, a mixture of mushrooms, ginger and macadamia nuts sauteed in sesame oil and soy sauce (the winner!), and finally, a vegetarian version with a fried egg sliced into strips. These were all good. Experiment and see what tasty filling you come up with.
If you’ve never made banh cuon or cheung fun before, I recommend watching a few youtube videos or learning from a friend. I just really wanted to make and eat these, so taught myself with youtube, but I do not pretend to be an expert. If you can’t find the premade mix of flour, you can make your own with rice flour and cornstarch. But I’m sure if you have an Asian market near you, you will be able to find this ‘bot banh cuon‘.
(increase proportions for more servings, 1 cup of flour makes about 6 rice noodle rolls)
1 cup rice noodle flour (bot banh cuon)
1 cup cold water
for sauteed mushroom and nut filling
cashews or macadamias, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 equal-sized piece of minced ginger
1 tsp mushroom soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
mushroom soy sauce or soy sauce
sweet chili sauce
cilantro or spring onion garnish
Note: There are 2 ways to do this–in a steamer with muslin (youtube video here) or in a non-stick frying pan (youtube video here. These are a pork version so skip to minute 3:18). I chose the frying pan method as I found it easiest and this is what I will describe.
1) Prepare the filling first. Either use a simple filling of fried tofu and avocado with fresh herbs like basil and mint. OR, heat up a little oil in a frying pan and quickly sautee sliced mushrooms, ginger, garlic, chopped nuts and sugar until golden. Add a small splash of mushroom soy sauce and mix. Set aside and get started on the rice noodles.
2) If using the packaged mix of rice flour and cornstarch, mix it with water, a drop of oil and whisk until there are no lumps.
3) On medium heat, heat up a nonstick frying pan and rub it with a tiny bit of oil. Pour one ladle of the batter into the frying pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Cover with a lid and steam for about 1 minute until the rice noodle roll is cooked.
4) While cooking, rub a little oil onto a clean work surface. Turn the frying pan upside down onto your work surface swiftly. The rice noodle should fall out easily onto the work surface. Straighten it out and use a table spoon to place the filling of your choice onto the middle of the rice noodle. Fold a little of one side over the edge of the filling. Fold a little of the other side over. This is so that when you roll it up, the filling will not fall out the sides. Then fold the top half over and continue rolling up the entire rice noodle.
5) Place on a platter and continue cooking the rest.
6) Serve with garnish and sauce of your choice (either drizzled over or on the side).