International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo Recipe (Vietnamese filled crepe)

(Vietnamese filled crepe)

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Banh xeo ("bahn SAY-oh") is a popular street snack in Vietnam, especially the south. The name means "sound crepe," and it indicates the sound the batter makes when it hits the hot skillet. The shrimp-studded crepe is rolled up in a leaf of lettuce and dipped in a flavorful lime-scented sauce before it gets popped in your mouth.

Makes about 4 to 6 filled crepes

Ingredients

Crepe Batter

  • Rice flour -- 1 cup
  • Sugar -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric -- 1/4 teaspoon
  • Coconut milk -- 1 cup
  • Water -- about 1/2 cup

Filling

  • Oil -- 2-3 tablespoons
  • Shallots or scallions, minced -- 2-3 tablespoons
  • Garlic, minced -- 2-3 cloves
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined -- 3/4 pound
  • Fish sauce -- 2-3 tablespoons
  • Salt -- to taste
  • Mung bean sprouts -- 1 pound

Salad

  • Green leaf or romaine lettuce, cleaned and separated into individual leaves -- 1 head
  • Cilantro -- 1 bunch
  • Mint -- 1 bunch
  • Nuoc cham dipping sauce -- 1 recipe

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the rice flour, sugar, salt and turmeric. Beat in the coconut milk to make a thick batter, then slowly beat in enough water to make a thin crepe batter. Set aside to rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high flame and add shallots or scallions and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes without browning. Add the shrimp and sauté for another 3-4 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the fish sauce and salt to season. Remove shrimp to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the sauté pan and reheat over medium flame. Add a small amount of oil. Stir the crepe batter well and pour 1/2 cup batter into the saute pan. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Lay 3 or 4 of the cooked shrimp over one half of the crepe and then sprinkle a small handful of sprouts over the shrimp. When the the middle of the crepe looks cooked through and the edges of the crepe begin to brown, fold the crepe over to cover the filling and side onto a plate. Hold in a warm oven as you finish the rest of the crepes.
  4. To serve the crepes, arrange the lettuce and herbs on a large platter. Give each diner his own individual crepe with a small bowl of nuoc cham dipping sauce. Each diner takes a leaf of lettuce, breaks off a piece of crepe and places it in the leaf along with a few sprigs of the herbs. The leaf is then rolled up, dipped in the sauce and eaten.

Variations

  • Pork Banh Xeo: Substitute half of the shrimp with pork loin or pork belly cut in thin strips. Sauté the shallots and garlic first, then add the pork to cook through, and finally add the shrimp.
  • Vegetarian Banh Xeo: Substitute fried, shredded tofu for the shrimp to make a vegetarian version. Add a variety of mushrooms to give a meaty flavor. Use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
  • Banh Xeo with Egg: Beat 4-5 eggs and pour a little over each crepe after you add the batter to the skillet, but before you add the fillings. Cover the pan for about a minute to let the egg set, then continue with the filling ingredients.
  • Add 1-2 chopped scallions to the crepe batter.
  • Sauté some sliced mushrooms with the rest of the filling.
  • Include some peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumber or julienne carrot with the rest of the salad ingredients if you like.