A little while back I posted this picture of Banh Xeo that I cooked for dinner. It has taken me a while (seems like most things these days takes me "a while" to do), but I have listened to you, oh my readers, and am posting the recipe as requested.
I had cracked open a cookbook that had sat neglected for far too long on my bookshelves: Foods of Vietnam, which was my first non-Chinese Asian cookbook. I bought first edition hardcover back in the early 90s. With its large glossy pages and its exquisite food photographs, it is what I think of as my first "glamor cookbook."
Some of my Asian cookbooks only give English names, which makes it harder to find recipes for dishes that I only know by their Asian name, so I really appreciate that Routhier gives both the Vietnamese names and English translations for the dishes.
(Crepe recipe in the extended post)
adapted from Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier
One thing that really struck me about this crepe recipe is that they are made of mung beans! How neat is that? You can buy instant banh xeo crepe batter from Asian grocery stores, but if you want the thrill of making it from scratch here is the batter recipe I used.
1/4 C dried yellow mung beans
2 C fresh or canned coconut milk
1 C rice flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
Cover mung beans with water and soak for 30 minutes. (prep your
meat/shrimp in the meantime — see below) Drain. Set aside 1 cup of
beans for filling. Place remaining beans (about 1/2 cup) in a blender
with the coconut milk and process to a fine purée. Add the rice flour,
sugar, salt, and turmeric. Blend well. Strain the mixture into a bowl
or jar and refrigerate if you are not using right away.
Steam the reserved mung beans for about 20 minutes or until tender. Cool and set aside. And while your mung beans are steaming, make some nuoc cham (recipe at end).
Fillings & Accompaniments
The recipe from Foods of Vietnam has a rather lengthy list of fillings, including shredded carrots and diakon with nuoc cham, a vegetable platter (scallions, corianer, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cucumber, onion...), shrimp, pork cut into thin slices, mushrooms, etc. Well, I didn't have all that stuff, so I improvised. And since Joe isn't all that fond of onion slices, I left out the white onion. This is what I used:
raw shrimp, shelled and deveined and halved lengthwise
thinly sliced mushrooms
thinly sliced scallions
Combine shrimp (and pork if using) with a splash of nuoc nam, a sprinkle of sugar, minced garlic, and some black pepper to taste. Mix well and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat a bit of oil in a skillet or wok and stir fry the shrimp until just cooked. Remove from heat.
If you know how many pancakes you're going to make, you can pre-mix the vegetables, mushrooms, and steamed mung beans and divide into equal portions.
I make crepes and crepe-like breads in an intuitive fashion in a cast iron pan. Both temperature control and oil are important for making sure they cook right and don't glue themselves to the pan. I'm not sure I can describe how I know if the pan is too hot or too cold or how much oil to use. So if haven't cooked any kind of crepes before, and especially if you don't use non-stick pans, you may find it takes a bit of practice to cook crepes.
Here's Routhier's directions for cooking the crepes:
Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a nonstick omelet pan (or any small pan) overly moderate high heat. When oil is very hot, stir the rice batter well and pour 1/2 C into the pan. Quickly tilt the pan to spread the mixture into a thin pancake. Scatter 1 mound of the vegetables and some shrimp (and pork if using) on the lower half of the pancake. Reduce the heat to moderate. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the pancake is brown and crispy. Fold the pancake in half (i.e. fold the vegetable-free section over the top of the vegetables) and slide it onto a platter. Keep warm in a low oven. Make remaining crepes.
Serve with lettuce leafs, herbs (mint, basil, coriander). Serve with nuoc cham.
also from Foods of Vietnam
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh chile, seeded and minced
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs lime or lemon juice
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 cup nuoc nam (fish sauce)
1/4 C water
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process for 30 seconds or until the sugar dissolves. You can add some finely shredded carrot and diakon to the sauce when serving with the crepes.