Banh Bot Loc is a small, chewy, translucent pork and shrimp dumpling, generally eaten as a snack in Vietnam. The pork-and-shrimp-filled dumpling is wrapped in a small piece of banana leaf, steamed in large batches and served with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce.
This Vietnamese snack food originated from Central Vietnam in the city of Hue, where it was served as a snack to the emperors, hence the tedious yet beautiful packaging of the dumpling in banana leaf (Banh Bot Loc Goi La Chuoi).
Of course, you can enjoy this snack without the cumbersome process of wrapping each dumpling in banana leaf. This ain't-nobody-got-time-for-that version is called Banh Lot Loc Tran. The differences between the two types are the consistency in the batter and method of cooking. The batter for Banh Bot Loc Goi La Chuoi is thinner so that you can smear it on the banana leaf. The filling is then added, everything is wrapped up in a neat bundle and then steamed. The batter in Banh Lot Loc Tran is thicker so it becomes more like dough for easier handling. The dough is flattened, filling is added and the dough is folded over like any other dumpling. The dumplings are then boiled instead of steamed.
I am a busy mom so whenever I make Banh Bot Loc, I like to make the Banh Bot Loc Tran version. Also, I like a subtle crunch to my dumplings so I add a small amount of minced woodear mushroom. This is totally optional but it adds another texture and dimension of flavor to the dumplings that I highly recommend. To make it more appetizing, I also spread scallion oil on the dumplings and top them off with a generous amount of fried shallots or garlic. Serve the dumplings with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce and you'll get ... in the world of Rachel Rey's annoying catchphrases... YUM-O!
I'd recommend making these in large batches. Bring them to a party and be a hero. Enjoy the recipe below!
Vietnamese Clear Pork & Shrimp Dumpling Recipe (Banh Bot Loc)
Pork & Shrimp Filling
1/2 lb pork belly diced into small cubes
1/2 lb small shrimps (50-60 size; with shell/tail on)
1/2 teaspoon salt (divided between pork and shrimp)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (divided between pork and shrimp)
1 teaspoon pork stock powder (divided between pork and shrimp)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (divided between pork and shrimp)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large shallot (chopped)
1 teaspoon paprika (for color; optional)
1/3 cup minced woodear mushroom
14 oz tapioca starch
1-1/3 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
This step is optional by highly recommended: To eliminate any foul smell of pork, clean the pork belly thoroughly by rubbing it with salt (2 teaspoons; amount not listed above) and vinegar (2 teaspoons; amount not listed above). Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the pork into small cubes. Season the pork with half of the amount of salt, black pepper, pork stock powder and fish sauce. Season the shrimp with the remaining salt, black pepper, pork stock powder and fish sauce. Allow the pork and shrimp to marinate for at least 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in fridge for best results.
Prepare the pork and shrimp filling. In a frying pan, add vegetable oil and heat on high. Add shallots. Pan fry the shallots until fragrant and golden brown. Add paprika powder and mix until fully incorporated. Add woodear mushroom and the marinated pork. Pan fry until pork fat is completely rendered and any remaining liquid has evaporated off. Add shrimp and continue to pan fry until shrimps are done.
Prepare the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add tapioca starch, boiling water, salt and vegetable oil. With a hook attachment, mix and kneed until you get a smooth dough that peels cleanly away from the side of the mixing bowl.
Prepare the dumplings. Cut off about a tablespoon of dough. Flatten the dough into a circle. Add filling onto one side of the circle (one piece of pork and one shrimp is the perfect ratio of filling). Fold the dough over to encase the filling and seal the seams. If you have a hard time sealing the seams, add some water around the edges to act as glue.
Boil the dumplings in batches until it floats to the surface (about 5-8 minutes)