Before I start, I want to thank all my new subscribers, as well as my old subscribers, who think my blog is worth following. Thanks for sticking around even though I don’t blog as often as I should or could. I really appreciate it 🙂
I’ll leave it to Wikipedia to explain what bánh xèo is:
Bánh xèo (literally “sizzling cake”) are Vietnamese savoury pancakes made out of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, and sometimes coconut milk (in the Southern regions), stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts and then pan fried. Traditionally, they are served wrapped in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves, and stuffed with mint leaves, basil, fish leaf and/or other herbs, and dipped in a prepared nước mắm called nuoc cham (Vietnamese fish sauce thinned with water and lemon).
The way I prepare my bánh xèo is a bit different from the way others make it, at least from what I’ve seen in cooking shows and cookbooks. Traditionally, you place raw shrimp or sliced pork belly into a hot skillet then pour the batter over it, so that the pancake and protein fuse into one as it all cooks. I, however, pour the batter into the pan and when the crepe gets crispy on the bottom, I add the filling. My filling isn’t the norm either. I choose to use a meat filling that consists of cooked, finely diced onion and ground pork seasoned with salt and pepper. The rest of my bánh xèo is pretty typical. I use mung bean sprouts which is a conventional ingredient and that’s about it.
TIP: If you’re like me and don’t like the taste of totally raw sprouts, do what I do: take a generous handful of sprouts, place it in a microwavable dish covered with a moist paper towel, and cook it for a minute. This will take away the raw flavor of the sprouts but still maintain some of the crispness. The microwaved sprouts should just be slightly translucent (versus opaque white when they’re completely raw).
This is a very simple dish to make. The pancake itself takes about 5-7 minutes to cook on medium heat. Most of the time-consuming work is in the preparation of the condiments and filling, so this is a dish you can make mostly in advance and throw together at the last minute for a dinner party or whatever.
The ingredients in my pancake batter are water, rice flour, turmeric powder, coconut milk (unsweetened, not cream of coconut), and a splash of vegetable oil. Yes, I oil my pan but I find that a bit of oil in the batter helps prevent the thin crepe-like pancake from cracking during the cooking process, as it’s prone to do sometimes. The oil also ensures that the pancake crisps up in the pan because I notice that without the added oil in the batter, the crepe can sometimes turn out too cakey in texture. The ideal raw pancake batter should be thin and very fluid; and the ideal cooked pancake, in my humble opinion, should be thin, golden crisp on the outside and have a subtle coconut flavor.
From You Tube videos, blogs and such I’ve seen that most people eat their bánh xèo by cutting off a small piece and wrapping it in a lettuce leaf, then dipping the bundle in nuoc cham. For me, that has the potential to be really messy so I omit the lettuce wrap part and eat the bánh xèo like an omelette. Rather than dipping my bánh xèo into the nuoc cham, I choose to use the nuoc cham as a condiment/sauce, pouring a little bit onto my bánh xèo. I think it’s just easier to eat that way. The ingredients I use in my nuoc cham are fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, shredded carrot, shredded cucumber, and lots of chopped fresh cilantro. Sometimes I’ll even shred up some lettuce and either add it on top of my bánh xèo or add it into the nuoc cham mixture. So basically everything that traditionally should be in, or eaten with, a bánh xèo is there even though it might not all be found in the places you’d expect.
Did you know that the Dollar Tree sells frozen fruits? Yes, they sell frozen fruits in 1 lb. bags for $1. Supermarkets and Target usually sell the same amount of frozen fruit for more, so check out the Dollar Tree for your culinary needs next time!
I’ve used Dollar Tree frozen blueberries, strawberries, and now peaches for various recipes before and they’ve all been perfectly good. Surprisingly, these dollar peaches maintain their shape while baking and don’t turn into an pile of mush which is excellent since I like to be able to recognize the food I’m eating.
One bag of frozen peaches is exactly the right amount for a regular 9″ (not deep dish style) pie crust. I used a recipe from allrecipes.com for the peach pie filling.
Me, I like a pie with both a bottom and top crust. The bottom crust was a store bought frozen pie crust, so for the top crust I followed an America’s Test Kitchen pie crust recipe, and halved it, to make the lattice top.
My lattice top isn’t perfect but I think it came out pretty nice. I call it rustic. Haha. The most important part, though, is the taste and it was delish. In fact, I’m going to make another one! The frozen peaches were so cheap I bought two bags, so I have a bag sitting in the freezer ready to go.