|Banh Xeo with Nuoc Mam Cham|
This blog post is a long time coming. Banh Xeo is a common Vietnamese dish although I rarely order it at restaurants. It's a little bit street food as it has to be made to order and best when made on a really hot pan. The best ones in my opinion have a crunchy edge and is stuffed with delicious shrimp and pork. They are quick and easy to make with the only problem being that the accoutrements take a while to prepare.
Like a lot of Vietnamese dishes the sauce is Nuoc Mam Cham which is just a diluted fish sauce. I think every family has their own recipe but I think mine is pretty standard. Throughout the years I have collected a ton of small scrap paper which my family has written the recipe. I finally got my act together and post it on this blog in hopes that it will be committed to memory.
The batter is commonly made with rice flour and flavored with turmeric. Often times we buy a pre-mixed package as it's really inexpensive and I don't have many uses for rice flour. If you find it intimidating to go into an Asian Supermarket, you're in luck because this packaging is easy to find.
1 package Bot Banh Xeo
1 cup coconut milk
1 tiny pinch of curry powder
3 cups light beer or sparkling water
3 scallions, cut 1 inch long
Mix the batter and let sit for 30 minutes. Makes about 8 10 inch crepes. Even though they are thin they are deceptively filling. I think my husband and I can only get through one and a half each.
1/4 lb ground pork
1/4 lb shrimp, deveined and cut lengthwise
1 sliced onion
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cups steam bean sprouts or mung beans
1 cup vegetable oil
The filling quantities are just a guide. Because you make each crepe individually, you can be as skimpy or as generous as you'd like. I love my crepes stuffed so I end up using a lot of filling.
Put pork, shrimp, onions, mushrooms, and sprouts in separate bowls.
|Batter and filling|
Using a large pan, turn heat to high and add 1 tbsp vegetable oil. When pan starts to lightly smoke, add some onions. As they start to cook, add a little ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms (maybe 1/4 a cup of each). As they are almost done cooking, add a ladleful of batter. You can make it as thin or as thick as you'd like. I stop pouring the batter when the pan is fully covered. As the crepe begins to cook, add a little oil around the edges of the crepe. This will help the edges to have a nice crispness to it.
All the accoutrements are optional of course and you can pick and choose what you like or have on hand. I like to julienne my carrots and daikon and soak them in a little big of vinegar and water. I have seen banh xeo eaten in a number of ways. Growing up I used to have it just as is and without all the accoutrements. I certainly never understood dipping lettuce in fish sauce as I thought that was too weird and preferred my lettuce with salad dressing. But the older and wiser I have become I eat it the way it is intended to be eaten. I take some lettuce and use it to wrap pieces of the crepe and whatever other accoutrements I'd like and dip the whole thing in the nuoc cham. Vietnamese people love to wrap anything they can get their hands on either with a rice paper wrapper or a big piece of lettuce. I think they were on to something as it is a great way to make the more expensive dishes (such as meats) to last longer as well as getting in more vegetables. If you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can always eat pieces of the crepe with a piece of lettuce, a little daikon, etc, all in the same mouthful. I think that way works, just definitely have to be a little nimble with the chopsticks.
|Wrapped and ready to be dipped!|
Nuoc Mam Cham
1/4 cup Fish Sauce (I like the Squid Brand)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp fresh lime juice or rice vinegar
1 Thai Bird Chili - optional
Mix all the ingredients together in a small jar. My grandma likes to warm up her water first and then add the sugar to ensure her sugar will dissolve properly. I love grandma's and their ability to not cut corners. :) I often times use vinegar instead of lime juice because I'm usually making a big vat of the stuff and vinegar just keeps better (at least that is what I tell myself instead "because my mommy does it that way"). You can increase the recipe, just remember that it is equal parts sugar to fish sauce and double the water to fish sauce. It's about 1 garlic clove per 1/4 cup of fish sauce and 3 tbsp vinegar for every 1/4 cup fish sauce. Taste the sauce and add more water if necessary to further dilute. Sometimes when fish sauce sits around for awhile the color darkens and can be quite pungent. Adjust the ingredients to taste. If you're not super familiar with this sauce, it's suppose to be salty and sweet with hints of garlic and heat. It's important to get this sauce to your liking as it is very important in Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy!