Sunday, May 10, 2009

Banh Beo - Steamed Rice Cake

Banh Beo is another steamed specialty from Hue. It is usually eaten during breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. It is made by steaming a flour mixture into mini pancakes and then topping it with mung bean paste, green onions, and shrimp dust. A plate of Banh Beo is very pleasing to the eyes with all the colorful toppings but I have to admit it is not that flavorful by itself. I always have to drench my plate with good fish sauce and a lot of pickled vegetables (do chua). My friend and I actually had more fun decorating these mini rice pancakes than eating them. I was able to watch my aunt's friend prepare some Banh Beo while I was in Vietnam. I always thought it would be hard to make but it's actually very simple, just require a lot of work to make different toppings. This version does not have the mung bean paste but will still satisfy your Banh Beo craving.

Ingredients:

1 bag of Banh Beo flour
1/2 lb of shrimp
3-4 stalk of green onions
salt
fried shallots (hanh phi)
cooking oil
prepared sweeten fish sauce

How to prepare green onion topping:

1. Chop green onions into small pieces.
2. Heat up about 1 and 1/2 table spoon of cooking oil.
3. Sauteed the green onions for about 30 second in the hot oil.
4. Remove from heat and put in another container to cool.
5. I continue to chop it into smaller pieces with a scissor.

How to prepare shrimp topping:

1. Peel and wash shrimp. Make sure shrimp is pretty dry until going any further.
2. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan. Sautee shrimp until it is about 80% cooked and remove from pan.
3. Using the handle of a knife, smash each shrimp so it's easier to work with.
4. When cooked shrimp come apart they are very stringy. Use your fingers to help shred the shrimps into smaller pieces. Using fresh shrimp will produce the best result.
5. Heat up a little bit of oil in the same pan. Add the shrimp pieces to the pan. Push the shrimp pieces against the pan to make sure the shrimp pieces becomes dry and crispy. Continue to do this until all the shrimp pieces are evenly fried.

How to prepare flour:
I use the direction on the back of the flour bag.

1. Combine the whole bag with 2 and 1/2 cup of water and stir well.
2. Boil 2 and 1/2 cup of water.
3. Add #1 and # 2, and a pinch of salt and continue to stir.

How to steam flour:
You can achieve the small circular shape in two ways. You can use small individual circle dish or you can buy an aluminum Banh Beo tray. It would be a lot easier if you have a large steamer such as one that you would use to make sticky rice (xoi). I didn't have one at school so I had to play around with this steamer to make it work.

1. Brush some oil on the small dish and place them in the steamer. Let the steam heat up the dish for about a minute.
2. Pour some flour mixture into the dish and cover it with a lid. Let it steam for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from steamer. You can eat right out of the small dish or prepare it on another plate.
4. Repeat until the flour mixture is gone.

How to assemble Banh Beo:

1. Brush some green onion oil on the banh beo.
2. Sprinkle on some shrimp pieces and fried shallots.
3. Add prepared fish sauce to your liking and enjoy!