I am very excited about this entry because this recipe has been long overdue. A friend of mine, a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, specifically requested for Banh Cuon. I was happy to oblige because I have put off making this dish long enough. I've literally seen my mom makes this dish hundreds of times. I'm usually very nervous when making something new for the first time but I felt as if it was second nature to me.
Banh Cuon originated from northern Vietnam commonly eaten during breakfast. It is made by steaming rice flour into thin, round sheets. A mixture of ground pork, wood ear mushroom, and onions are spread on to the rice sheet and then folded into a roll. Banh Cuon is usually eaten with different type of sides such as cha lua (pork patty), cha chien (fried pork patty), and nem chua (fermented pork patty). I prefer thinly sliced cha chien with a lot of steamed bean sprouts and basil leaves. And of course the fish sauce, never forget about the fish sauce!
The trickiest part about making banh cuon is the rice flour in general. You will likely run into some trouble when you mix the rice flour and then steaming it into thin sheets. My mom's secrets for good banh cuon is being comfortable with mixing your own flour, letting your flour sit overnight and finding the best nonstick pan you could find. I used a pre-packaged banh cuon mixture that could be found at any Vietnamese grocery store. Instead of following the directions from the back I constantly revise ingredients as I cook. Once you steamed the rice flour into thin sheets you can pretty tell what it will needs by the taste and texture. Don't worry if the first few sheets turns out to be horrible, over time it will come out better. Another problem you may run into is getting the rice sheet off the pan. This is where it gets fun! Dont be afraid to slam the pan down on the table. I know I make a lot of noises trying to get the sheets off the pan but just consider it music from your cooking.
All the pictures from this entry are courteous of my friend Duc who did a great job capturing every step throughout the cooking process. And thank you to Thu for a beautiful presentation of the banh cuon. I hope you will enjoy this recipes as much as I enjoy making it :)
Rice flour mixture:
-2 bag of prepackage banh cuon mix
-2 tablesoon of tapioca flour
-2 tablespoon of cooking oil
-5 cups of water
-1 lb of ground pork
-1 medium onion minced
-1 cup of wood ear mushroom minced
-basil leaves rough chopped
-bean sprouts steamed
-cha chien/ cha lua cut into half circle or thin strips
-prepared dipping sauce
1. Mix all the ingredients for the rice flour mixture and let sit over night.
2. Heat up cooking oil in a pan. First sauteed the wood ear mushroom for a couple minutes. Add the pork and sauteed until about 3/4 done. Add the mince onions last and continue to sauteed.
3. Flavor the pork mixture with salt, sugar, mushroom seasoning, ground pepper, and fish sauce. Avoid over salting the pork mixture because you will eating banh cuon with fish sauce later on.
Making the banh cuon:
1. Even if you use a nonstick pan, rub the surface with some cooking oil. Wait for the pan to get hot on medium heat.
2. Ladle some rice flour onto the hot pan. Tip the pan back and forth making sure the rice flour cover all the surface of the pan. Put the lid on and let flour steam for about a minute.
3. Remove pan from heat and flip the pan upside down onto a baking sheet.
4. Add a spoonfull of pork mixture to the center of the rice sheet.
5. Fold the sides inward. Roll from bottom to the top sides.