Another childhood favourite! Sizzling Vietnamese crepes, aka Banh Xeo. The best crepes are crispy on the outside, and accompanied with loads of fresh vegetables. These crepes are filled with pork belly, shrimp, bean sprouts and, at times, mung bean, every bite is a treat. It’s always served with fresh, crunchy lettuce, as well as optionally made neater in a rice paper roll, then dipped into fish sauce.
Can we begin to count all of the ways to enjoy fish sauce? This is one of the many. Fish sauce can take many variations, slightly saltier, slightly sweeter, or combined with minced ginger.
Why this recipe works:
- Combination of just coconut milk & carbonation for the liquid for a crispy & balanced batter. Add carbonation with soda water or a very light beer for a very crisp shell. The beer will also add a light beer aroma, but if that’s not for you – go with soda water instead.
- Make the batter to enjoy now, or tomorrow. If enjoying later, give it a mix ahead of using. When fried up, the batter impressively still remains crispy after sitting overnight in the fridge. Good news is that I have not tasted a textural difference in letting the batter sit, vs enjoying it right away.
- Mung beans are an iconic addition to banh xeo filling. If you don’t have an extra day to let them soak overnight, then feel free to skip the ingredient.
- Either cook the prawn & pork all at once, or ahead of cooking each crepe. The latter route provides a fragrant oil to be infused into the crepe.
- Enhanced flavour with chicken powder. The chicken powder in both the batter and meat marinade gives an additional savoury taste. If you do not have chicken powder, feel free to add a quarter to half portion of salt alternatively.
Recipe: The Crispiest Vietnamese Crepe (Bánh Xèo)
Cooking time: 1 hour
Preparation time: 45 minutes
- 50g Mung Bean
- 1 White Onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tsp Neutral Oil
- 1lb Pork Belly, cut into 2 cm x 0.5cm pieces
- 1½ tsp Chicken Powder
- 1 tsp Black Pepper, cracked
- 1 tsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tbsp Shallot, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp Garlic, chopped finely
- 2 cups Rice Flour
- 2 tsp Chicken Powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- 1 cup Coconut Milk
- 1 cup Light Beer or Soda Water
- 3 stalks of Green Onions, sliced
- 3 tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 3 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 ½ Cups of Water
- 1 tbsp Lemon or 1 tsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 Thai Chili, sliced (optional)
- Soak mung bean overnight in 2 cups of water. Rinse and steam for 15 until tender. Set aside.
- Marinate pork belly with ½ tsp chicken powder, 1 tsp fish sauce, ½ tsp black pepper, garlic & shallot. Set aside for 30 minutes. Set aside.
- Marinate shrimp with 1 tsp chicken powder, ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat a non-stick pan to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add onions. Add pork & shrimp and distribute evenly to one side of the pan. Spoon in a ⅓ cup batter, pouring it into a circle. Rotate the pan to allow the batter run along the sides and distribute evenly. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of mung bean all over. Top one side with bean sprouts. Lower heat to medium & cover with lid for 1 minute. Remove lid and cook for 1 minute to crisp further. Fold crepe in half. Transfer to plate
- Combine all batter ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Steps: Cooking Banh Xeo
- Get all your ingredients ready (pork, shrimp, batter, mung bean & bean sprouts) and within arms distance.
- Add 1 tsp of neutral oil to the pan on high heat.
- Cook 2-3 pieces of pork belly, and 1-2 shrimps, flip halfway then add sliced onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Once protein is 80% cooked, push the pork belly, shrimp & onions to one side of the pan (to fill only half). Add ⅓ cup of batter to the centre of the pan. Immediately rotate the pan to swirl batter and create a circular crepe. Add a more batter if needed to expand crepe.
- Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of mung bean all over batter, and add a handful of bean sprouts to half of the crepe. Cover with lid for 1 minute.
- Remove lid (avoid allowing any water from the lid to drip).
- Once edges are golden and begin the curl up, fold the crepe in half. Serve.
Steps: How To Eat Banh Xeo
- Create sauce by combining sugar with 1/4 cup hot water until combined. Add remaining water and mix.
- Add fish sauce and lemon. Add additional water a few tablespoons at a time if needed to taste. Add sliced Thai chili.
- Prepare vegetables by cleaning and arranging lettuce, beansprouts & herbs on a plate.
- Cut banh xeo into 3-4 portions with scissors. Prepare to eat by either wrapping with rice paper, or using just a lettuce leaf to wrap banh xeo. Fill wrap with leaves of mint, cucumber and/or cilantro according to preference. Dip into fish sauce.