Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Pancake)

Bryan asked if I ever ate Vietnamese tacos, and I said I'd never heard of them. So he had his mom teach me how to cook them.

I said they were more like Vietnamese omelets rather than tacos. Turns out, they're called Vietnamese pancakes or crepes. They call it bánh xèo ("sizzling cakes") but I can't speak Vietnamese to save my life. His mom gave me the bánh xèo mix to bring home to my family. The yellow color comes from some powder, which my mom nearly cut off to throw away.
Bánh xèo, bakes bass, and Mrs. Nguyen's secret nuoc mam sauce
I spent all afternoon chopping and washing the ingredients. His mom is a perfectionist in the kitchen, plucking each leaf from the stem and washing it at least 3 times. Her chopping skills put a food processor to shame. She de-shells each shrimp carefully to extract every morsel of meat and finely slices the pork like paper.

Me? I, uh, tend to not wash my produce thoroughly, and eat the stems of herbs and shell of shrimp. And my meat comes in slabs. 
Anyways, Mrs. Nguyen showed me what to do, and ordered Bryan to throw away trash.

B: What? I can do more than put away trash. Put me in coach! I can be useful!
Mrs. Nguyen: Fine, you can set the table then.
We fired up the grill since it tends to splatter and decided to eat outside since it was a lovely day. And I thoroughly enjoyed my bánh xèo.

Ingredients
Batter:
bánh xèo mix
1 can coconut milk
2 cups water
green onions, finely sliced

Filling:
1 lb shrimp, uncooked and de-shelled
1 lb pork, thinly sliced into strips
1/2 white onion, cut
cooking oil
bean sprouts

Topping:
romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
mint
basil
nuoc mam (fish sauce)

Directions
Prepare the bánh xèo mix (we added coconut milk and water) to make the batter. Add green onions.

On stovetop, add oil and saute pork and onions. When nearly cooked, add shrimp. When shrimp turns pink, pour the batter like an omelet, starting from the edges of the pan and moving centrally in a circular pattern. Tip the pan to spread the batter along the edges.

As the pancake begins to cook, add bean sprouts in the middle. When the edges become crispy and dry, use a spatula to lift half the pancake and fold in half (you do not flip completely). Let cook for additional 5 min. Transfer to plate. Repeat until all the batter is complete.

Add lettuce, mint, basil, and nuoc mam and serve immediately. 

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