Rice Crepes (bánh xèo)
Traditionally, the filling contains shrimp and pork that has simply been poached or sauteed. Here I used lightly battered coconut shrimp since the theme of the ICSA was coconut. This dish is eaten by tearing off pieces of lettuce and wrapping pieces of the crepe with herbs and dipping in nuoc cham, dipping fish sauce.
Bánh xèo (Sizzling crepe)
- 2 3/4 cups rice flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tb turmeric
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 3 cups water
- 14 oz. coconut milk
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions
- Alternatively, a pre-mixed bag of banh xeo flour can be used for the rice flour and sugar. It'll come with its own spice packet.
- Makes about 18 crepes which is enough for at least six people.
Amounts depend on how many crepes will be made. Basically just a handful of each of these:
- steamed mung beans: soak these in water a few hours in advance of cooking
- sliced onions
- canned straw mushrooms
- bean sprouts
In these particular banh xeo I used large shrimp and for every six shrimp used 2 Tb tapioca starch, salt and pepper to taste, 1 egg white, and a 1/2 cup shredded coconut to batter.
Lettuce and herb platter:
Prepare the batter by mixing all the ingredients until just combined. Stir in the scallions last. Then set everything aside to rest for about half an hour. I forgot to take a picture, but it will be fairly thin and will be a pale yellow.
Meanwhile, drain the mung beans and place them in a pot with water over high heat. Keep the pot uncovered and bring the beans to a boil for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the beans are tender, then drain. Better yet, steam them in a basket or colander lined with cheesecloth for a nicer texture.
Slice the onions and saute them in a little oil with the mushrooms. Season lightly with some salt or fish sauce and set aside.
Peel and devein the shrimp. Combine the cornstarch and seasonings. Beat the egg white, and spread the coconut on a plate.
Dredge the shrimp by dipping into the cornstarch mixture, then into the egg white, then coating with the coconut. Fry the shrimp in some hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes, then flip and fry for 1 more minute. Set aside to drain.
With the batter and fillings ready, it is time to make the crepes. Make sure the lettuce platter and dipping fish sauce is ready to go, as the crepes are best eaten hot off the pan.
Heat up a frying pan over medium high heat until a few drops of water sprinkled into the pan dance around the pan but do not immediately sizzle and evaporate. Coat the bottom of the pan with some oil and once the oil is hot, ladle in about a 1/4 cup of banh xeo batter and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly.
After half a minute to a minute, spoon a couple tablespoons of the mung beans onto one half of the crepe. Top with the onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts and the shrimp.
Put a cover over the pan if available or a tent of aluminum foil to help steam the bean sprouts. If you prefer the bean sprouts to be crisp, do not cover and add the bean sprouts later during the cooking process.
After 5 minutes, the bottom of the crepe should be fairly crisp and the bean sprouts starting to wilt. Use a spatula to fold over the crepe.
After 30 more seconds in the pan, slide onto a plate. Eat by wrapping pieces of the crepe in lettuce with some of the herbs and dip in the fish sauce. Because the crepes are best directly off the pan, the number of pans and burners limits how many can be made at once. At home, my mom cooks two at a time and calls us individually to the table when each is finished. It's about the only meal for which my mom doesn't require everyone to sit down together as a family to eat.
Going in for the bite...