Bánh xèo seems to be designed to be eaten as a family. The batter, filling ingredients, and veggies aren’t complicated to prepare, but they don’t make sense to be bought or made to be eaten by yourself.
You don’t just buy 1/4 pound of pork, 8 shrimps, or buy 1/4 head of lettuce. You kind of have to bump the volume to make each step worth the prep and to me, meals that are shared are a lot more fun anyway.
These crêpes take a little bit of prep time and organization, then you can just keep knocking these guys out faster than people can eat them.
I always found the name of bánh xèo interesting because the “xèo” refers to the sizzling sound it makes when you cook the batter. Its name loosely means “sizzling cake.” The sound is much more obvious when the batter hits a hot pan, but here’s some footage of one hissing from the heat:
I’ve heard many folks refer to bánh xèo as “that Viet egg thing” and it always took me a while to figure out what they were talking about, until they mention the filling has pork, shrimp, mung bean, bean sprouts and some green onion.
These crêpes are yellow and kinda look like omelettes–but! There are actually no eggs in here. It’s just turmeric powder that colors em yellow!
Bánh xèo is food meant to be eaten with your hands. You’ll always find a big plate of greens with a mix of herbs to go with it. You can substitute green leaf lettuce for the mustard greens in a pinch, and mint is the only must-have herb here with cilantro and Vietnamese perilla being the other commonly used ones. However you can really throw in whatever you like.
Early versions of bánh xèo were probably made with rice flour without the use of wheat flour. It can work for you too, but using wheat flour helps these fellas develop that nice browning color as it crisps up in the pan.
I usually get rice flour pre-made in bags at Asian grocery stores. If that’s not an option for you, health food stores like Whole Foods carries it. As a last resort, you can make it yourself if you have a nice blender, but we’ll save that for another post.
This dish is always a treat to me since I rarely get to eat it. It’s also an awesome choice to cook for a group because it’s affordable. You can spend $20 for enough crepes to satisfy 4-5 bellies!
- 9 ounces rice flour
- 3 ounces all-purpose wheat flour
- 2-3 teaspoon turmeric, depending on color preference
- 3.5 cups water
- 1 14oz/400ml can coconut cream (or coconut milk, if unavailable)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 sprig scallion (~6-7 leaves), chopped small about 1-2 cm long
- 1 pound shrimp without heads, sized 45/50 or 60/70
- 1.5 pounds pork belly
- 1 onion, medium sized, thinly sliced
- 1-1.5 pounds bean sprouts
- ½ cup dry mung beans (optional)
- mustard greens (caỉ xanh)
- cilantro, optional
- Vietnamese perilla (tía tô), optional
- Vietnamese fish sauce (recipe here)
- Combine all batter ingredients except scallions in a large bowl for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Add scallions only right before making the crêpes.
- Steam or soak mung beans in water until soft
- Boil pork until cooked through. Slice thinly.
- Wash bean sprouts and veggies
- On medium-high heat add 1-2 teaspoons of oil and some onions
- Immediately add a few pieces of pork and shrimp. Sauté, lightly mixing until very lightly browned.
- Pour in some batter and quickly tilt & rotate the pan so the batter is evenly spread. Add more batter if it wasn't enough to cover the pan.
- Add some mung beans, bean sprouts, and cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes, or until bean sprouts are slightly cooked. The batter should also be slightly cooked and transparent around the edges.
- Remove the lid, lower heat to medium and wait for the crêpe to become crisp. Fold in half, transfer to a plate and serve immediately.