Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bánh Xèo - Vietnamese Sizzling Cake

Every time somebody ask me to make Banh Xeo for them I cringe and ask politely to pick another dish, actually it's more like 'pick something else or you don't eat'!  I hate making banh xeo; it takes forever, you get oil spatter everywhere, and you and everything in your house end up smelling like fried food for days.  But if I don't have to make it myself, I absolutely love it!  

Banh Xeo is a popular street food made from a rice flour batter fried into a crispy crepe filled with pork belly, shrimp, and bean sprouts.  You eat it with a lot of fresh veggies and herbs and dipped in sweet fish sauce.  I always crave it on the hottest summer day when my family's garden is at its peak with plentiful of herbs.  

When somebody makes it for you, appreciate it because it is a labor of love.  I can still remember when I was little at my grandma's house, my mom and her sisters were in the kitchen making banh xeo as we wait to eat them fresh right out of the frying pan. That's the only way to eat banh xeo, hot and sizzling!  


1.  Always let your batter sit overnight to rest (ie Banh cuon, banh khot, banh beo) this will allow the flour to expand and won't become rubbery. 

2.  The first couple of banh xeo will usually be the worst!  Your frying pan needs time to adjust to the heat and oil.  

3.  Use a light pan which will be easy for you to turn/rotate which will help you distribute the batter more evenly and thinly.  

4.  Don't use too much oil it will absorb into the batter and become soggy. Don't use too little oil it will not become crispy.  You will figure this out as you cook.

5.  Stir the batter especially at the bottom before every use.

6.  You can cook your pork belly and shrimp ahead of time to speed up the cooking the process.  

7.  Use a specific ladle or a measuring tools to help you stay consistent with how much batter you'll need to use  according to the size of your frying pan.

8.  Use a nonstick pan or you will be sorry.  I use one that has an aluminum coating. 

9.  Use a cooking brush (or paper towel or cotton) to evenly brush/spread oil onto your pan.

10.  Use cheap beer that is really carbonated like Bud Light. 

11.  Don't be scared, the outcome will be worth it! 


pork belly thinly sliced
shrimp (cut in half)
bean sprout
rice flour
tapioca flour
coconut milk
green onions (just the green bottom)
1/2 thinly sliced sweet onions
1 wedge of lime
cooking oil
herbs of choice

Batter:  This will make about 20-25 crepes.

4 cups rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup coconut milk 
1/2 cup warm water
25 oz can beer
2 teaspoon of turmeric powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of minced green onion
a squeeze of lime juice

Mix and let rest!

1.  If you like to cook your pork belly into the batter then do this first.   Add sweet onions at the very end. You can use as much pork belly and shrimp as your like.

2.  Once your meats are cooked brush the surface of your pan with oil and wait for the pan to be hot ( not smoking hot) but you should be able to feel the heat.  Pour batter evenly in the pan, rotate/turn your pan so the batter coats the pan evenly.  You can always add more to fill in the spot.

3.  You can add pre-made pork belly and shrimp at this point, and then add bean sprouts ( a little under a handful). Cover with lid to help cook your filling (this takes about 10-15 seconds)

4.  Uncover the lid.  Lift up the crepe from the pan and I like to add a little bit more oil, turn down the heat a bit and let it fry until crispy.

5.  Fold the crepe in half and remove from pan.

6. Repeat.