Monday, February 18, 2013

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepes)

When my mom makes these, they are perfectly thin and crispy with the perfect balance of flavors. Traditionally they are made with fatty pork and fried in a caste iron pan with bean sprouts and green onions. In Vietnam, this is the best street food! I got this recipe from a vegetarian cookbook called Plenty that I got for Christmas and this version has a thicker crepe. I made these on Sunday for Nick's family. It was their first time trying this food and I think they liked it!

Makes 4 thick crepes
For the crepe batter:

1 1/3 cups brown rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 3/4 cup coconut milk (from a can)
1 bunch green onions, green and white parts chopped

Mix the dry ingredients with a wire whisk.

Then add the coconut milk slowly, stirring to incorporate. Then add in the chopped green onions.

Mix the batter and set aside to rest. While preparing the filling.

For the filling:

1 daikon radish, sliced into small strips
2 carrots, sliced into small strips
9 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 bag bean sprouts
1 bunch cilantro, just the leaves
1 bunch Thai basil leaves (we didn't have this)

I prefer my filling cooked just a little bit to soften up the vegetables, but you could definitely eat these raw too. I cooked all of the veggies except for the cilantro and bean sprouts over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

For the fish sauce:

1/4 cup nuoc mam (fish sauce)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (we used lemon)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 jalapeno with seeds, chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for flavors to infuse. This is just an estimate of what ingredients are needed since Nick and I added more or less of each ingredient until we liked the balance of the different flavors.

To make the crepes:

Crepes are simple to make once you figure out how to flip them. The first one usually turns out not so great, but it tastes fine!!! Preheat a large nonstick frying pan (or caste iron if you have) over medium heat until hot, but not too hot. Then pour about 1/2 cup batter into the pan. Swirl it around until the batter covers the entire bottom of the pan, and then let sit.

Look for the crepe to be lightly brown around the edges and pulling away from the pan. You should also see the bubbles in the crepe. Then using a spatula, edge it under the crepe and flip it quickly. Since these are made with rice flour, they break kind of easily. I'm still trying to figure out the perfect method to not break them. Then while the other side is cooking, but a generous amount of filling plus the bean sprouts and cilantro on one side of the crepe.

Flip one side of the crepe over the filling so it looks like an omelet. Then drizzle the fish sauce over the top and serve with rooster sauce!

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