Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese "Sizzling" Crepes with Pork and Shrimp)

My second attempt.  Not perfect but still delicious!
I guess you could say that I've fallen head over heels for Vietnamese cuisine lately.  I'm beginning the process of exploring some of the Vietnamese eateries around town and I've recently dabbled in a bit of Vietnamese cooking at home.  Here's one of the first dishes I attempted:  Bánh Xèo.

These "sizzling" crepes are a popular street food in Vietnam.    The crepes are cooked in a wok or large skillet and then filled with slices of pork, shrimp, fresh bean sprouts, and onion.   Full disclosure:  I have to admit that my first attempt at bánh xeo was a big fat failure.  I didn't use the right pan, didn't use enough oil (and it wasn't quite hot enough) and the resulting crepe stuck to the bottom of the pan.  My second attempt was a little bit better-far from perfect, but still quite tasty.  You can opt to use a packaged bánh xeo mix if you'd like (found at most Asian supermarkets), but I like to make the batter from scratch.   Recipe follows next...

Báhn Xèo (serves four)
(adapted from this recipe from Gourmet)

For the crepe batter:

¼ cup dried peeled yellow split mung beans (soak the beans in water for at least 30 minutes before using)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
6 tbsp water
1 cup rice flour (not sweet or glutinous rice flour)
1/2 tsp sugar
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon salt

Yellow split mung beans
Rice flour (don't use the sweet stuff!)

For the filling:

¼ pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed or skinless fresh pork belly, sliced
¾ pound medium or large shrimp, peeled
2 tbsp fish sauce (see below)
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, root end trimmed and one or two outer leaves discarded
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic

4 teaspoons vegetable oil (for cooking the crepes)
¼ cup chopped green onion
2 cups fresh soybean or mung bean sprouts, trimmed
reserved steamed split yellow mung beans (optional)

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce (see below)

Green leaf lettuce and fresh herbs: mint, cilantro, basil, perilla (you'll find it packaged as tía tô in the fresh herb section of  Super H Mart) for "wrapping".

Before going further with the Bánh Xèo recipe, a word about nuoc cham (or nuoc mam cham).   You'll come across plenty of recipes on the web for this Vietnamese staple but the ingredients are basically the same:  fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, sugar and fresh chillies.  Personally, I like author Andrea Nguyen's (Into the Vietnamese Kitchen) method for making nuoc cham.  You can find her recipe here at her blog Viet World Kitchen.  I love her blog-it's a great resource for recipes and information on Vietnamese and Asian cooking.   She also has a handy fish sauce buying guide here, where she advises on how to choose the right sauce for preparing Vietnamese dishes.  My preferred fish sauce is Three Crabs brand (you can occasionally find it on sale at Super H Mart for about $3 a bottle).   Whatever brand you choose, be sure to use a Vietnamese fish sauce (look for nuoc mam on the label).

Preparing the crepe batter:

Drain the pre-soaked mung beans in a sieve and rinse with cold water until water runs clear.  Transfer beans to a blender along with 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk and 6 tbsp of water.  Puree mung beans, coconut milk and water.  Add rice flour, sugar, turmeric and salt to the mixture and puree until smooth.  Set aside.

For the filling, cut pork or pork belly slices into 2-inch strips.  In a bowl, stir together the pork, shrimp, fish sauce and brown sugar.  Set aside.  

Mince enough of the lower portion of lemongrass for two tablespoons.

Heat oil in a wok or 12 inch nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Stir fry onion, lemongrass and garlic for about 2 minutes.  Add pork and shrimp and stir fry just until shrimp turns pink (about 3 minutes).  You don't want to cook the pork and shrimp completely-they'll finish cooking in the crepe.   Transfer the filling to a bowl, then clean skillet in preparation for making the "sizzling" crepes.

Preparing the crepes:

Heat two teaspoons of oil in the nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.   Give the batter a quick stir before pouring 1/2 cup into the skillet.  Quickly rotate the skillet so that the bottom of the pan is covered.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the fresh bean sprouts over half of the crepe (as if you were making an omelette), then spoon 1/4 of the filling evenly over the sprouts.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the green onions over the top.  You could also sprinkle some steamed yellow split mung beans over the top, but this is completely optional (I chose not to).   Reduce heat to moderately low, cover skillet and cook for about three minutes (or until edge of crepe begins to pull away from the sides of skillet).  Reduce heat to low and finish cooking the crepe (uncovered) for an additional 2-3 minutes or until underside and edges of crepe are crisp and golden.  Fold the other half of the crepe over and carefully transfer to a large rack or large baking pan.  The crepes can be kept warm in a 200°F oven until ready to serve.

Eating bánh xèo:

Cut a portion of the bánh xèo, then wrap in a lettuce leaf along with the fresh herbs.  Dip the "lettuce wrap" in nuoc cham and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this recipe. I'm so excited to find a delicious looking wrap that is gluten-free and egg-free (and from scratch!)