Friday, August 10, 2012

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Savory Crepes)

I'm going to start off this post by saying that this is not a post about the history or origins of Banh Xeo (a savory Vietnamese crepe dish). I'm not going to argue the finer points or inner workings of this dish. I'm also not an expert recipe writer and did my best to try to capture each step as accurately as I could while still trying to enjoy the moment with my mom. This is simply just a post about a dish that my mom has been preparing for our family ever since I can remember. She only makes this on special occasions when everyone is home because the prep work is a little bit extensive unless you have a lot of time on your hands, in which case, you can probably make this every day if you wanted too. I love watching my mom prepare this dish so I thought that I would share it here on my blog. This is what the final product looks like and they are delicious!

Please note that I've photographed the instructions on the back of the bag to point out that over the years my mom has painstakingly experimented, modified and perfected it to just the way we like it. I'm sure you can prepare it word-by-word based on the instructions on the back of the bag but good luck with that. Also, I'm sure you can make the flour mixture from scratch but why would you when the prepared flour is $1-$2 a bag.

1 12-oz bag of prepared Banh Xeo flour (you probably will need to go to an Asian market to find this)
2 cups of steamed and mashed mung beans
2 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of canned coconut milk
1 egg (well-beaten)
2 lbs Fresh bean sprouts
1/2 lb Pork cut into short thin strips
3/4 lb Shrimps with shell-on, cleaned
Vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

First, pour the content of a 12-oz bag of Banh Xeo prepared flour into a large mixing bowl and mix with 2.5 cups of water (the bag instruction say 3.5 cups of water but that is too much) and 1/2 cup of coconut milk (the instruction say 1 cup but you actually don't need that much). A note about the coconut milk, the instruction says you can also use regular milk but I think the final product will taste a lot better if you use coconut milk. And when they say coconut milk, they mean the stuff you find in a can that is normally pretty thick, it's not the kind that comes in the carton that you eat with cereal. I'm sure it would turn out fine if you use the "lite" canned coconut milk instead of the full fat version.

So already in the mixing bowl is the prepared flour, water, and coconut milk. To that mixture add 1 well-beaten egg, 1 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp turmeric, a pinch of pepper and a handful of finely chopped scallions.

Soak 2 cups of shelled and dry mung bean in water over night and steam until soft. Then take the back of a spoon and mash it until smooth. Once smooth mix in 1/2 tsp of salt and sugar. Mixture should be a little bit sweet in the end so start out with 1/4 tsp of salt and build to ensure that the mixture does not get too salty.

Cut pork into thin strips and leave the shell on the shrimps. Add salt and pepper to both and mix well. You can add a little bit of MSG to both if you like.

Heat a skillet and add a little bit of vegetable oil and start by browning some sliced onions. Then add the pork and shrimp and brown it a bit.

Give the flour mixture (batter) a little stir and then slowly ladle some into the skillet. Remember this is a crepe so it needs to be thin but make sure you put enough into the pan to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Tilt the skillet in a circular motion to distribute the batter as you ladle to ensure a thin layer. This is kind of like making an omelet but thinner. Yeah I bet you can guess that the thinness of this dish is key. It is also important because the thinner you make it, the more crispy the edges will be and crispy is a good thing here.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about 30 seconds to one minute or until set.

Remove the lid and add a small spoonful of the mashed mung beans and some fresh bean sprout. Then fold the crepe in half right in the pan and let it cook for maybe 30 seconds more and plate.


At our house, we eat it with some nuoc mem sauce, shredded lettuce and assorted herbs. Maybe one day I'll write down the recipe for the sauce and post on here.

On this particular day, my dad also made a Thai dessert jelly drink. I'm posting a photo because the colors looked so amazing.


Monika said...

omg I love banh xeo! Its one of my fave dishes!! I wish we were neighbors so you could feed me :-D

Glenn Jones said...

Jeesh. I haven't had breakfast yet.