This is one of Luke Nguyen's all-time favourite street foods. These crispy pancakes are served with the obligatory and sensational nuoc cham dipping sauce.
- 1 tbsp dried mung beans
- 10 cooked tiger prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
- vegetable oil, for brushing
- 1 spring onion (scallion), green part only, thinly sliced
- Spring onion oil
- Nuoc mam cham dipping sauce
- 125 g (4 ½ oz) rice flour
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- a pinch of sea salt
- 50 ml (1 ½ fl oz) coconut cream
- 60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup) cooked jasmine rice (see Note)
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.
You will need to begin this recipe one day prior.
You will need a banh khot pan. If you cannot find a banh khot pan at a local Asian grocer, then a takoyaki or aebleskiver pan will do just fine.
Soak the mung beans in cold water overnight.
Strain, then steam over high heat for 15 minutes. Set aside.
To prepare the prawn floss, dice six of the prawns as finely as possible. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chopped prawns until you have a smooth paste. Slice the remaining four prawns in half lengthways, then slice each half into three pieces and set aside.
Place a small saucepan over low heat and add the prawn paste. Using a fork, stir the mixture regularly and press it down into the bottom of the pan using the back of the fork. The idea is to dry the prawn meat — it should not colour, and you should notice a small amount of steam being released from the prawns.
After 20–30 minutes the prawn meat should be dry, fibrous and crisp. When it gets to this stage, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
For the batter, combine the rice flour, turmeric and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add 250 ml (1 cup) water, the coconut cream and the cooked rice. Stir to combine, then blend using a hand-held stick blender until smooth.
Heat an eight-mould banh khot pan over medium-high heat and brush the moulds with vegetable oil. Add a tablespoon of batter to each mould, turning the pan in a circular motion to run the batter up the edges of the moulds. Add a pinch of steamed mung bean, sliced spring onion and a piece of chopped prawn to each mould. Place the lid over the pan, reduce the heat slightly and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the batter is cooked through.
Remove the lid. Using a teaspoon, remove the pancakes from the moulds and transfer to a serving plate.
Sprinkle a large amount of the prawn floss over each pancake. Drizzle with spring onion oil and nuoc mam cham and serve.
• You can use leftover cooked rice here.
Image and recipe from The Food of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen, published by SBS ($69.95, hbk). Photographer by Alan Benson.