If you’re looking for a recipe to feed the crowd, look no further than this irresistible crispy banh xeo. Banh xeo, also known as “Vietnamese pancakes,” is a delicious option for casual get-togethers with friends and family.
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These yummy Vietnamese crêpes are stuffed with delicious flavors like sliced pork, shrimp, mung bean, bean sprouts, and onions.
The veggies, batter, and filling ingredients aren’t hard to put together. Plus, you can even prep the batter a day or night ahead of time.
So, let’s head to sizzling.
What Is Banh Xeo
In simple terms, banh xeo means “sizzling cake.” The origin of “xèo” comes from the sizzling sound the batter makes when it hits the hot pan.
Most Vietnamese people will simply refer to banh xeo as “the Vietnamese egg dish.” After some initial confusion, I learned that the stuffing consisted of mung beans, bean sprouts, green onion, shrimp, and pork.
Banh xeo Vietnamese crepes are traditionally eaten by rolling them up with vegetables and then dipping them in the savory nuoc cham sauce.
On the other hand, these delicious Vietnamese crepes may be yellow and look just like omelets. However, the truth is that there are actually no eggs in these crepes. The crepes’ bright yellow color comes from the turmeric powder used in their preparation.
Making Banh Xeo Using Wheat and Brown Rice Flour
While rice flour will work, wheat flour will yield a nicer and crispier banh xeo. Wheat flour is what you’ve probably been using if you like to bake things like bread and cookies. All-purpose flour is simply another name for wheat flour.
So, when you next visit the grocery store for some “all-purpose flour,” know that you’re actually getting wheat flour.
With that said, rice flour alone, without any addition of wheat flour, was likely used in the traditional preparation of banh xeo. If you prefer to stick to the traditional method, you can make this dish with just rice flour, which will turn out OK. However, here are three reasons why I find using wheat flour to be a better option:
- It produces a better batter (that’s if you prepare the batter ahead of time and reheat it).
- It makes the banh xeo crispier in a better and different way.
- It helps in producing a banh xeo with a lovely brown color.
Still, note that rice flour is different from glutinous rice flour. The flours have different cooking times and textures and yield very different results. Using glutinous rice flour for these crepes will make the batter turn out bad and mushy.
Troubleshooting Banh Xeo Batter Issues
To get the crispiest banh xeo with lovely coloring, be sure to double-check the following ingredients and procedures:
- Weigh Your Flour
Weigh your floor for precise measurements. If you don’t want to accidentally add too much flour to your recipe, then don’t scoop it.
- Don’t Make the Batter Too Thick
If you make the batter too thick, the crepe won’t crisp up as well as it should. Regardless of how you measure out the flour, always check the consistency of your batter. Your uncooked batter should flow freely upon tilting and rotating the pan.
If the batter feels too thick (like the batter for thick pancakes), add one tbsp of water to the batter container, mix it up, and test it. Add more water until you achieve the desired texture.
- Adjust Cooking Times
The cooking times I listed in this article are rough estimations that have worked well for me. However, since you may be using a different stove, you can adjust your cooking times accordingly.
Sometimes, if you leave the banh xeo to cook covered for too long, moisture might flow back into the wok, making the crisping process more difficult.
Another tip to make your banh xeo crispier is to increase the cooking time after removing the lid. This allows steam to escape the batter and make it crispier.
- The More Oil You Add, the Better
Having enough oil in the pan helps prevent pan-batter contact. To make the crepe crispier, oil the pan’s edges if there isn’t enough.
- Double-Check Your Coconut Milk and Water Measurements
Adding too much water and coconut cream/milk will prevent the crepe from becoming crisp. Therefore, double-check your measurements and ensure you get things right.
- Use a Different Pan
You should have good results if you have a nonstick pan with good seasoning. The pans causing problems are probably either too lightweight or aren’t distributing heat properly.
How to Eat Banh Xeo
The best way to enjoy banh xeo is to consume it with clean hands. There is always a generous serving of greens on the side, garnished with various fresh herbs.
- Cut the banh xeo into two-bite sized pieces. Single portions are usually too small and take more time to finish in one sitting.
- Wrap the banh xeo in lettuce leaves that are almost the same as the bites. You can also wrap the bites in mustard greens if you don’t have green lettuce leaves. Both veggies taste great.
- Spice things up by adding a pinch of each of the herbs.
The only required herb for this dish is mint, but Vietnamese perilla and cilantro are also commonly used veggies. However, note that adding too many herbs can ruin your bite, but it’s ultimately up to you to choose your path.
Add Final Flavoring
Prepare some delicious nuoc cham (a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce) and use it to season the dish. I find that using a spoon gives me the most control and allows me to enjoy the dish without ruining the sauce.
How to Store Your Batter and Keep It Fresh
If you can store your batter properly, it’ll stay fresh for more than four days after preparation. Therefore, you can enjoy your banh xeo seven days a week if you like. As long as you store the batter in an airtight container, you can prepare it a few days ahead of time and refrigerate it.
However, if you’re going to store the batter for later, ensure to keep your batter and container clean, meaning don’t put any used utensils (forks, spoons, etc.) in the batter.
Just be sure to give the batter a good stir and evenly distribute the ingredients before dividing it.
If you don’t have enough uncooked batter left, you can cook the crepes ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator. However, note that the end result won’t taste quite as delicious as if you’d eaten it right out of the pan.
- What does banh xeo mean in English?
Banh xeo loosely translates to “sizzling cake” because xèo is an onomatopoeic term for the sizzling sound the batter makes as it hits the hot skillet.
- What is the right way to pronounce banh xeo?
The correct pronunciation of “banh xeo” is “ban say-oh.” However, note that the phonetic spelling won’t get you far. So, hearing the word pronounced correctly would help in getting the intonation right.
- Where can you buy rice flour?
Both Asian grocery stores and health food stores stock plenty of high-quality rice flour. You can get the flour pre-made in bags or make them yourself with your food processor.
- Where did the banh xeo cuisine originate?
If you ask a random Vietnamese person where banh xeo originated from, the vast majority of them will say central Vietnam.
However, note that the southern Vietnamese style and the central Vietnamese style are the two main types of banh xeo. The central Vietnam style is the smaller style that involves breaking the banh xeo into pieces and wrapping it in rice paper.
The banh xeo in the southern Vietnam style is wrapped in leafy lettuce and is the more popular of the two preparations.
- Can you make banh xeo from scratch?
Yes, you can make savory banh xeo from scratch. Banh xeo is made from a basic blend of coconut cream, turmeric, rice flour, onion, and other ingredients. The fillings include bean sprouts, pork belly, and shrimp.
Once you get all the ingredients you need to make this dish, you can follow my recipe to make tasty banh xeo.
Best Bánh Xèo – (Vietnamese Sizzling Pancakes / Crepês)
- Large mixing bowl
- Large skillet or wok
Fragrant Herbs and Dipping Sauce
- Mint one bunch
- Cilantro one bunch
- Vietnamese perilla one bunch, optional
- One head of mustard greens caỉ xanh
- Nuoc Cham Vietnamese prepared dipping sauce. Note that this ingredient is a must-have for making this dish. This dripping sauce is made with garlic, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce.
Ingredients for Batter
- Salt 1 tsp
- Turmeric 2-3 tsp
- Coconut milk or coconut cream 396.9 ml
- One sprig of green onion finely chopped to about 1/2" long
- Rice flour one 3/4c
- All-purpose flour 85g or 0.7c
- Water 3.5c
- White sugar ½ tsp
Ingredient for Filling
- Pork belly 1.5lb
- Beans sprouts 1.5lb
- One thinly sliced medium yellow onion
- Dry mung beans 1/2c, optional
- One pound of shrimp headless (sizes 45/50 or 60/70)
How to Prepare the Batter
- Keep the scallions aside in a small bowl and combine the rest of the batter ingredients in a large bowl. Let the batter for three hours or overnight so it can sit and absorb the liquids. Wait until the last minute to add the scallions when making the crêpes.
How to Prepare the Fillings
- Clean the mung beans and soak them in water for two hours or until soft.
- Boil pork until soft and fully cooked, and then slice thinly.
- Wash the veggies and beans sprouts and set aside in a bowl.
How to Make Banh Xeo
- Place your nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add one to two teaspoons of vegetable oil and some onions.
- Add a handful of shrimp and thinly sliced pork into the wok immediately. Saute and stir occasionally until the ingredients are fragrant and lightly browned.
- Pour some batter into the hot skillet and then quickly tilt and turn the skillet so that the batter is spread out evenly. If the pan isn't fully coated, add the remaining batter until the whole pan is covered.
- A very thin layer of batter, the kind that almost flakes off the pan's edges, is what you want. However, if your crêpe batter is too thick and doesn't flake off the pan, try mixing in a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.
- Reduce the heat to medium heat and add mung beans and bean sprouts. Cover the pan with a lid and let the bean sprouts cook for three minutes or until slightly cooked.
- At this point, the batter should be translucent and slightly cooked. Given that we won't be flipping the crepe, this step ensures that the ingredients are well-cooked on the top side.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low, remove the lid, and allow the crêpe to cook for 5-7 minutes or until crisp. This step allows the batter and ingredients to cook through fully. Plus, this step allows steam to escape the batter so it crips up.
- Check the pan and brush some oil around the edges if there's not enough to coat them. Next, fold the crêpe in half and transfer it to a serving plate. That's it!
Crispy banh xeo is a delicious option for a family-sized dinner. The best way to enjoy this dish is by garnishing it with fresh herbs and wrapping it in lettuce leaves. You can make banh xeo from scratch using rice flour, pork belly, bean sprout, and other ingredients.
I have provided the necessary ingredients and instructions for making tasty banh xeo. Also, if you run into trouble when making this dish, you can refer to the troubleshooting section to learn how to make your banh xeo crispier.