If you walk the streets of Vietnam, you will get bombarded with an array of delicious smells from the abundance of street food vendors. This is, of course, in addition to the complimentary smell of engine exhaust from the millions of mopeds. One of the dishes that not only can you smell, but hear is the making of Banh Xeo, Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes.
Banh Xeo is a savory crepe that is pan-fried and topped with pork belly, shrimp, mung beans, and bean sprouts. Traditionally, you eat Banh Xeo with your hands. You tear off a piece of the Banh Xeo, wrap it in lettuce and other assorted Vietnamese herbs, and dip it in the ketchup of Vietnam, fish sauce (Nuoc Mam).
If you get a chance to visit Vietnam, grab a seat on one of the tiny plastic stools, have a plate of Banh Xeo and a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da), and enjoy your meal while watching the beautiful synchronization of mopeds and local pedestrians (or the total mayhem of mopeds and tourist pedestrians). You will not be disappointed.
Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes (Banh Xeo) Recipe:
Servings: 12 crepes
- 1 packet of Banh Xeo flour (12 oz)
- 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 Fl oz or about 1.5 cups)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- Additional salt to clean the pork and shrimp
- 2 stalks of green onions; thinly sliced
- 1 lb pork belly
- 36 unpeeled shrimps (3 for each crepe)
- One large white or yellow onions; thinly sliced
- 1 cup dried mung beans
- 1 lb fresh mung bean sprouts
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Lettuce and Vietnamese Herbs such as sorrel (rau chua), fish mint (diep ca), Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), and perilla (tia to).
- Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce
Cook the Mung Beans
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add the mung beans and cover them with water.
- Use your hand to swirl and massage the beans so that they release the yellow color.
- Drain the yellowish water from the bowl and repeat this process until water runs clear.
- Once the mung beans have been cleaned and drained, cover the mung beans with water cook it in the microwave until soft (about 5 minutes).
- Let them cool and then drain the water. Set aside.
Prepare the Pork Belly
- Heat a small pot to a rolling boil.
- Add in a dash of salt and the pork belly.
- Boil for 2-3 minutes. The meat doesn’t have to be cooked all l the way through.
- Thoroughly drain and rinse.
- Trim of excess fat if necessary and thinly slice in small pieces.
- Set aside.
Prepare the Shrimp
- Peel the shrimp half way. Leave the peel in the middle intact. Why? This will provide a bit of crunch.
- Once semi-peeled, devein the shrimp.
- Toss the shrimp with a bit of salt. Then rinse. The salt will remove any foul smell of seafood.
- Set aside.
Make the Batter
The Banh Xeo flour that I get from my local Asian store comes with a small packet of turmeric. The turmeric is used to give the batter a yellow color. If your packet of Banh Xeo flour doesn’t come with a small packet of turmeric and you don’t have turmeric on hand, you can use yellow curry powder.
- Mix the flour with the turmeric, coconut milk, flour, salt and MSG, and green onions.
- Set aside.
Make the Crepes
- In a medium-size pan, coat it with vegetable oil.
- Add a few slices of pork belly and sautee until cooked.
- Add 3 shrimps and a few slices of onions. Sautee until you have a bit of caramelization/color on the shrimp. Do not cook the shrimp all the way through!
- Pour in two ladles of the batter.
- Immediately pick up the pan and swirl it around until the batter creeps up to the sides of the pan.
- Place the pan down and add a handful of mung beans and bean sprouts.
- Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, remove the lid. This is the fun part. We are going to make it sizzle. Hence the name.
- Using a squeeze bottle of vegetable oil, squeeze a generous amount of oil around the outside edges of crepes. Do not pour oil directly onto the crepes! The oil will loosen up the edges, and as it falls to the outside bottom of the crepes, the bottom will get crispy. If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, simply use a spoon and drizzle the oil around the edges of the crepes.
- Shake the pan to test if the crepe is loosen from the pan. The crepe should be sliding back and forth. If it’s not loosen, add more oil to the outside edges of the crepe. Do not fear the oil. Oil is good here at this point of the cooking process.
- Once the crepe is loosen, use a spatula and fold the crepe in half.
- Transfer to a plate.
- You are now ready to enjoy this beautifully crispy Banh Xeo with lettuce, assorted Vietnamese herbs and fish sauce.
Helpful Tip: When making your next crepe and your pan has too much oil from the previous crepe, pour the excess oil into a small bowl and re-use as necessary. You do not want to pour batter onto a pan full of oil!