I like to wrap mouthfuls of banh xeo and herbs in lettuce leaves, whereas my mum prefers to use mustard leaves. I roll it up as best as I can and dip it in the nuoc mam – if I get too excited with the nuoc mam, it dribbles down my arm! Oh, and only rookies pour the nuoc mam in the wrap. Be a true Vietnamese and dip instead!
The name banh xeo comes from the sound of the batter hitting the hot frying pan (xeo means sizzle). I absolutely love these crispy pancakes with their accompanying fragrant, fresh herbs.
- 340 g (12 oz) rice flour
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) coconut milk
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 egg
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pork belly
- 16 small green prawns (shrimp), peeled, deveined and halved lengthways
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) bean sprouts
Nuoc mam dipping sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 brid's eye chillies, finely chopped or sliced
- 150 ml fish sauce
- 100 ml white vinegar
- 140 g caster (superfine) sugar
- lettuce leaves or mustard leaves
- 1 bunch Vietnamese mint
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch shiso
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 3 hours
1. Whisk the flour, coconut milk, turmeric, oil, salt, egg and 600 ml (20½ fl oz) water in a bowl. Set aside to rest for 3 hours.
2. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce make the dipping sauce by combining the ingredients and 200 ml water in a bowl and stiring through until the sugar has dissolved. Makes 600 ml, the remainder can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the pork belly, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool, then cut into thin slices.
4. Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium– high heat, add 5–6 slices of the pork belly and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until lightly golden. Pour about 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) of the batter into the pan and swirl to cover the base of the pan and the pork belly (tip any excess batter back into the bowl – the thinner the pancake the crispier it will be). Cook for 5–7 minutes, until the base of the pancake is golden brown, then drizzle a little oil down the inside of the pan (this helps the pancake to get even more crispy). Scatter four prawn halves and a handful of bean sprouts over one half of the pancake and fold the other half over the top. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the pan, transfer to a serving plate and take to the table (these are best eaten straight away).
5. Pile the lettuce or mustard leaves and herbs onto a serving plate and place in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. Invite guests to tear off some of the pancake, place in a lettuce leaf and top with a few herbs. Roll up tightly and dip in the nuoc mam.
6. Repeat with the remaining pancake ingredients to make eight banh xeo.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99