Banh Xeo, what the F does that mean??
(That was my first reaction when a friend asked me to try this dish.)
“Just look across your table”, he said.
I saw a HUGE egg omelette with some meat, prawns and vegetables.
“So you want me to eat a monster egg omelette?”, I asked.
“No”, he replied. “It’s not an egg omelette, you stupid F!” (sorry, but that’s how we communicate in our “friendly” world), “It’s a vietnamese pancake made with rice flour and coconut milk…just try it man”, he insisted.
I must admit…I’m not the biggest fan of omelettes and certainly hesitated when I saw the size of that YELLOW thing!
It was huge man!
No, I don’t have a problem with anything yellow, especially food. I just didn’t feel like an egg omelette, a very large one that is, not for dinner anyway. But since it was just a savory pancake, so I took him on and gave it a shot.
And I’m soooo glad that I did, because ever since then, this Banh Xeo Vietnamese pancake has taken a special place inside my heart.
By the way, this is not a dish that can be easily found in vietnamese restaurants, at least not in Sydney anyway. I certainly never had it here. I mean, the most popular viet dish we eat here is pho (a special beef noodle soup, yum!)
And maybe pork roll too (cheap, satisfying and tasty!).
This place in Melbourne was different though. Everyone had one of these yellow pancakes on their table. It was as if the dish was on a special promotion or something, like a buy one get one FREE deal!
When it finally came to our table, my friend showed me how to roll up that first batch, because I didn’t know how to eat it. The combination was actually quite interesting, very easy to make, and smart too!
So I dipped it into the sauce and took a trial bite…..then I suddenly realized what all the fuss was about.
Because…boy oh boy, it was the best pancake I’ve ever had in my entire life!
Sweet or savory, I no longer care! That crispy pancake skin, the juicy fillings with shrimp and tender pork meat, followed by layers of fresh crunchy vegetables and when you eat it with that magical sauce…OMG!
The combination was just bang on….mouthwatering….DELICIOUS!
So when I came back to Sydney, I told my Mrs about it. She wanted to give it a try, but unfortunately…we couldn’t find it in any of the Vietnamese cuisine that we know of (and that’s a lot of places too I tell you…)
But one day, out of sheer luck, I finally found it!
It was a small restaurant inside the suburb of Bankstown, NSW, a popular vietnamese area which we go and buy asian groceries from. So if you happened to live in Sydney, this is an area to find traditional southeast Asia ingredients and food items that you won’t find elsewhere.
And the prices are cheap too!
(Hey…every dollars counts when you’re raising a family, right?)
I’ve never tried eating at this restaurant before, because I always thought that the place was too small. Like tight spaces, small tables and everything’s just so cramped up.
If it wasn’t for my sore tiring legs, I wouldn’t have walked in. Simple.
But when I saw a familiar picture on their menu, I was over the moon (Yes, I found it….all thanks to my legs!).
I couldn’t remember the pancake name at the time, “Banh Xeo”, but I definitely knew what the dish looked like.
I pointed to the photo and told my wife,
“This is it!!”
“This is the dish that I’ve been bragging to you about….the yellow pancake from Melbourne…'”
So we ordered it straight away and you wouldn’t believe how happy I was, because I finally get to eat this fantastic meal again. Seriously, it was like God had answered my foodie prayer.
Moments later, there it was, a huge plate filled with green leaves, a dipping sauce and that humongous pancake that I’ve been so eagerly to get my tongue on again…YES!
Like a professor who thinks he know it all, I gentlemanly showed my Mrs how to eat it the “correct way” and when I tried to rip a part off the pancake, I sort of sensed that something wasn’t quite right.
But I rolled it up for her anyway…
…and then monitored closely as she took her first bite…
She didn’t like it.
“WTF”, I thought to myself so I immediately made myself a piece and took a bite. Oh YUCK!
The pancake was thick, soggy, tasteless and worst of all, the fillings lacked any kind of seasoning whatsoever. I mean, come on man! What the F is wrong with the chef??? He could of at least marinaded the F**kin meat!!!
Yes…I was blowing steam!
And if it wasn’t for that vietnamese dipping sauce, I wouldn’t even attempt a second bite.
I was very pissed! Extremely upset because I take pride in everything that I recommend to people (I meant food), especially to the dearest person in my life, my gorgeous humble wife.
So for me to recommend this pancake dish to her, it felt like my tongue was impotent! Yes, it destroyed my confidence alright.
When I went home that day, I researched every single recipe out there on this vietnamese pancake. You see, I needed to regain my reputation in the family. In other words…
I want my tongue to rise again!
After thorough research, test and trial, I finally created it.
The result, I’d say 99.5% similar to what I had in Melbourne.
And that basically means SPOT ON DELICIOUS!
So here’s my easy recipe for you….
- Rice Flour - 500g
- Tumeric Powder - 1/2 tbsp
- Coconut Milk - 200ml
- Soda Water - 1 litre
- Green Onion - 1 cup (chopped)
- Sea Salt - 2 tsp
- Sugar - 2 tsp
- Pepper - 1 tsp
- Pork Belly - 500g (thinly sliced)
- Medium Carrot - 2 qty (shredded)
- Brown Onion - 1 qty (sliced)
- Bean Sprouts - 400g
- Fish Sauce - 3 tbsp
- Soy Sauce - 2 tbsp
- White Pepper - 1 tsp
- Cos Lettuce - 1 qty (wash and break apart)
- Thai Basil Leaves - 1/2 bunch
- Cucumber - 1 qty (cut into small sticks)
- Garlic - 3 gloves (finely chopped)
- Chilli - 2cm (finely chopped)
- Lime - 2 qty (juiced)
- Fish Sauce - 2 tbsp
- Sugar - 2 tbsp
- Water - 120ml
To prepare the meat - Place pork belly (500g) into freezer for 2 hours (allows for easier slicing). Take out, thinly slice and then marinade with fish sauce (3 tbsp), soy sauce (2 tbsp) and white pepper powder (1 tsp) for at least 1 hour.
To prepare the vegetable fillings - Peel and shred carrots (2 qty - medium size). Wash bean sprouts (400g) thoroughly, strain and set everything aside.
To prepare veggie wrap - Wash cos lettuce (1 qty) thoroughly, break apart into large pieces, drain and set aside. Wash thai basil (1/2 bunch) and set aside. Wash and cut cucumber (1 qty) into small sticks (I leave the skin on) and set aside.
To prepare the batter - In a large bowl, add rice flour (500g), add turmeric powder (1/2 tbsp). Slowly pour in soda water (1 litre) while stirring mixture using a large spoon. Then add coconut milk (200ml), add green onion (1 cup - chopped), add sea salt (2 tsp) and finally add sugar (2 tsp). Mix batter thoroughly and set aside.
To make the dipping sauce - In a medium sized bowl, add garlic (3 gloves - finely chopped) and add chilli (4cm - finely chopped). Then squeeze in lime juice (1 qty), add fish sauce (2 tbsp), add sugar (2 tbsp) and water (120 ml). Mix thoroughly and set aside.
To cook the pancake - Place a large non-stick pan on high heat, add in olive oil (1 tbsp), add marinaded pork meat (prepared earlier - divide, about 8 thin slices), add in the brown onion (1 qty - sliced & divide) and then saute for 3 mins.
Spread the meat and onions evenly onto the pan and then pour in the pancake batter mixture (prepared earlier - divide, about 1 scoop each pancake) using a large ladle and tilt the pan to ensure the meat are evenly coated.
Add carrots (prepared earlier - divide) and add bean sprouts (prepared earlier - divide), spreading them evenly onto one side of the pancake. Reduce to low heat and cover for 2 mins.
Open lid, turn to high heat and cook pancake until 1 side is crisp (about 2 mins). Flip one edge onto the vegetable covered side to form an omelette shape.
Now flip the whole pancake over onto the other side to crisp the other side (about 1 min).
Serve immediately while it's hot and crispy. Enjoy!
How To Eat This??
Rip off a piece of the pan cake and place it on a lettuce wrap, add a stick of cucumber and add a piece of thai basil leaf. Roll it up like a spring roll and then dip it into the sauce. Simple, refreshing and OMG!
Large Non-Stick Pan - This is essential to make a nice BIG pancake, without the worries of the batter sticking onto the pan. (We all know what that's like)
Silicone Tongs - When you saute or stir fry the pork, this will make your life much easier and you don't need to worry about the tip scratching your non stick pan. Absolute must if you want to cook both sides of the meat evenly!
So that’s my Vietnamese pancake recipe for you and guess what?
My wife absolutely loved it!
It was light, crispy, fresh and yummy! Just like how these yellow pancakes are meant to be. The pork was marinaded to perfection and my dipping sauce…well, let’s just say she couldn’t keep her hands off it. 🙂
Unlike the traditional pancake mix, I tweaked the ingredients a bit to make it even more crunchy. My kids loved it too and it has now become a family favorite.
The fact that it was so quick and easy to make, and came out soooo tasty. I have no problem making it again, again and again.
So give it go…trust me, you’ll love it.
Next time, I’ll try to add some prawns in with the pork as well. Actually, I think that’s the authentic way of making it.
But I’ll leave that for another day.
So enjoy and please don’t forget to SHARE this Banh Xeoe pancake recipe with other people.
I’m sure some of your friends and family have been wondering how to make it. So do them a favor and do me a favor. Like & Share….easy.