I love pho but it really takes a long time to make as well as requiring oxtail which isn’t always readily available at your neighborhood grocery store. This past week in the international aisle at the supermarket I discovered that Sun-Bird Asian Seasonings now offers a pho seasoning packet. I held it in my hands for a minute, contemplating on whether or not to get it but ultimately put it back as I felt that I simply couldn’t cheat on the couple of times I’ve had authentic pho, both at home and out at Vietnamese restaurants.
I decided to try something new and turned to the Internet for inspiration. I came across banh xeo which are Vietnamese style pancakes made of rice flour, water, coconut milk and turmeric powder and stuffed with an assortment of goodies. From what I read it seems that banh xeo is one of the top foods visitors should try in Vietnam. They were a bit tricky to fold, the first two attempts breaking a bit, but they still came out fine and tasted equally good.
To accompany the pancakes, I made Zucchini with Ginger from my The Book of Vietnamese Cooking cookbook. This was extremely simple to make and it also gave me a chance to test out my wok I had received for Christmas.
Banh Xeo-recipe courtesy of rasamalaysia.com
2 cups rice flour
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 lb. pork shoulder, cut into thin slices
1/4 lb. small shrimp, peeled and deveined, slices in halves lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced yellow onions, about 1/8 inch thick
3/4 cups sliced mushrooms, 1/8 inch slices
2 cups bean sprouts, trimmed
3 scallions, thinly sliced on extreme angle, about 1/4 inch thick
1.) In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, turmeric powder and salt. Add water and coconut milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Strain through sieve if there are lumps. Set batter to rest for 30 minutes.
2.) Heat up a 10-inch non-stick saute pan or skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then add one portion of pork, shrimp, onions, scallions, and mushrooms. Stir fry until pork and shrimp are half done, and ladle 1/2 cup of batter into pan. Swirl pan to coat bottom evenly. Add bean sprouts over half the crepe (on the right). Drizzle another 1 tablespoon of oil around outer edge edge of crepe and lower heat to medium.
3.) Cover pan and cook for 1 minute. Remove cover and continue to cook until edges begin to brown. Loosen crepe from bottom of pan with a soft silicon spatula (hard spatula would break the crepe). When bottom turns light brown and crispy, fold crepe to encase bean sprouts.
4.) Place pieces of cooked banh xeo inside a lettuce leaf, dip in nuoc cham and eat immediately.
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
1-2 bird’s eye chilies, cut into very fine rings
1 clover garlic, minced finely (optional)
-Add fish sauce, water, sugar, and lime juice into a small bowl and mix well until sugar is completely dissolved.
-Add garlic and chilies and stir
-Use as tableside condiment as desired