Vietnamese pancake or bánh xèo (pronounced BAN-sew) is a very popular street food to every Vietnamese. It has a crispy crepe-like layer made of a mix of turmeric powder and rice flour, stuffed with various ingredients, but most common are veggies, mung beans and meat, sometimes seafood or pork. The word “xèo” means “sizzling” deriving from the sound of rice batter creates when poured into the hot pan. The dish’s origin is still a mystery; however; no matter where it first appeared, each region offers a unique experience. Until now, there are 2 main styles to make the layer of the pancake: crispy layer and thick layer.
The size and ingredients of the dish can vary in different regions, the southern banh xeo are bigger served with a lot of vegetables and bean sprouts, whereas the central ones are smaller made without bean sprouts. You may be surprised that more than 93 recipes are found to make a Vietnamese pancake, which can satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters.
How to eat
Some persons may prefer to eat it with chopsticks, but the best way to experience it is with your hands. Initially, we cut it into bite-sized piece and put it in a rice paper dipped slightly water, some places may use salad or other veggies. Then, you place fresh vegetables and herbs and roll them tightly. Finally, you dip the roll into fish sauce called “nước mắm” with every bite, which is a perfect reinforcement completing these special pancakes.
How to make a standard crispy Vietnamese pancake
Prepare the following ingredient:
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric ground
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 pinches ground white pepper
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup iced water
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
200g pork mince
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
500g medium cooked prawns, peeled, deveined, chopped
1/2 cup snow pea sprouts, trimmed
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1) We mix rice flour, coconut milk, turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and put aside for 30 minutes.
2) Use a non-stick pan with medium hot. Add the bean sprouts and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove the sprouts from the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Add 1 tsp of oil to the skillet. Add the pork and shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Add the scallions and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.
3) Put ½ tsp of oil to the skillet (if it looks dry) and pour about ½ c of the batter into the hot pan, tilting the pan quickly to create an even layer of batter that coats the pan. Distribute some of the cooked filling and bean sprouts over half of the batter and cover the skillet for 2-3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.
4) Remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium, cooking until the bottom of the pancake is crispy 3-5 minutes. Once the bottom of the pancake is golden and crispy, fold the pancake in half over the filling. Transfer to a plate and serve. Continue with the remaining batter and filling, adding a little oil as needed before pouring the batter.
Here are the addresses of some most well-know Banh xeo restaurants in Saigon:
Bánh xèo Mười Xiềm: 225 Nguyen Trai Street, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1.
Bánh xèo Bà Hai: 64 Nguyen Trong Tuyen Street, Phu Nhuan District.
Bánh xèo Ngọc Sơn: 103 Ngo Quyen Street, Ward 11, District 5.
Bánh xèo An Quán: 71/5 Mac Thi Buoi Street, District 1.
Have a look at our Foodie Tour on motorbike, which offers you an authentic experience of Vietnamese street food.