Bánh xèo is a Saigon-style party pancake. It’s a festive dish, with lots of different fillings. The pancake is large and shared. You break off a piece of the pancake with its filling, wrap it in some lettuce with some fragrant herbs and dip it in nước chấm. It's so named for the sizzling sound it makes when the pancake batter hits the wok - "sssow".
- 4 eggs
- 500 ml (2 cups) water
- 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk (see Note)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 375 g rice flour
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 75 g caster sugar
- 150 ml warm water
- 85 ml lemon juice
- 150 ml fish sauce (see Note) (3 crabs Nuoc Mam Nhi)
- 1 red chilli
- 1 green chilli
- 200 g cooked crabmeat, picked
- 400 g barbecue pork, thinly sliced
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
- 200 g bean shoots
- 2 red birdseye chilli, seeds discarded, thinly sliced
- 1 large piece ginger, thinly sliced
- iceberg lettuce leaves
- Vietnamese mint leaves
- round mint leaves
- coriander leaves
- Thai basil leaves
- perilla (shiso) leaves (see Note)
- sawtooth coriander (see Note)
- rice paddy herb (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.
Resting time: 1 hour
For the pancake batter, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
For the nước chấm, dissolve the sugar in the water in a small bowl, then add the other ingredients. Adjust to taste.
To cook the pancakes, check the consistency of the pancake batter. It should be smooth and thin like a crêpe batter. Pour about 120 ml of the mixture into a very hot, lightly oiled, non-stick large frying pan (at least 30 cm) and run the batter all the way up the edge of the pan so it covers the entire surface.
Scatter one-tenth of the filling ingredients over the pancake. When the pancake is crisp, invert it onto a plate, allowing it to fold in half - it should be crisp enough to sit up like a drum rather than fold or flop over.
Repeat with the remaining batter and filling ingredients.
Serve with the table salad for wrapping and nước chấm sauce for dipping.
• I prefer to use Kara brand coconut milk.
• We use a fish sauce from the picturesque island of Phú Quốc, considered to be the world’s best. namely 3 Crab brand. The fish sauce should be labelled nuoc mam nhi, which means it is the first pressing or the equivalent of ‘extra virgin’ fish sauce. To judge the quality of a fish sauce, it should be crystal clear, deeply golden but not too dark, and it should create large bubbles when shaken - this indicates a viscous and rich sauce.
• You can find the herbs from Asian grocers.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
Geoff Lindsay is the head chef of Dandelion.
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