Vegan Banh Xeo: Traditional Vietnamese Crepe
Up until recently, I had no idea what Banh Xeo was never mind how to pronounce it. It just seemed like an exotic name that needed more investigation. So I did some investigating. I researched, I googled, I youtubed, I library-ed, and most importantly, I ate. I visited a couple of restaurants and ordered one doctored up. The traditional Banh Xeo is filled with fatty pork, shrimp, and dipped in stinky fermented fish sauce made from aging decomposing anchovies in huge vats with other things. Not my cup of tea. However, the thought of creating something delicious using the traditional crepe (rice flour, turmeric, coconut cream and sometimes sugar) was something I was born to consider.
Being able to see footage of traditional banh xeo cooking is one of the many benefits of the conceptual age. There is people out there that know there are people like me out there that love finding things like this.
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I am certainly amazed by their dexterity and seamless virtuosity in pumping out banh xeo after banh xeo.
How cool is that? I am sure you can easily see how this type of simple dish can become an obsession. Although I detest the cliche and less is more (because less is less and more is more), in this case, untainted culinary tradition trumps any overcomplicated contemporary chemistry food experiment.
Lets get down and dirty. You will need an Asian supermarket.
The packets have two pouches generally. The large bottom pouch will contain a mixture of rice flour, starch and sometimes a little sugar. The top will have a little turmeric. From my research, most cooks will advise you to add more turmeric to reach that gorgeous, traditional rich golden color.
Banh Xeo Ingredients
- 1 Packet bot Bahn Xeo or Saigon Pan Cake flour mixture
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 14 ounce can coconut cream (not milk, there is a difference)
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions both green and white parts
Start by putting the flour, turmeric from the package and additional turmeric in a large bowl. Add in the coconut cream.
Mix thoroughly until you rich a smooth consistency. You may add more turmeric if you like more of a golden color. Careful not too add too much or else you will add a slight bitter and undesired medicinal taste. Turmeric is good for you though. Add in the scallions and let rest while you prepare the filling.
Vegan Banh Xeo filling for about 6 crepes, the batter however, will give you enough for an army.
- 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 lb enoki mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 pack dried tofu or your favorite kind
- 1 cup shallots minced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 bag of bean sprouts
- Canola oil
Start by heating up a large non-stick pan on medium with a couple of tablespoons of canola oil. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Then add all the mushrooms and cook until wilted.
Cut the tofu in small strips. This will make it easier to fold over the crepe.
Add the tofu, season very well with salt and pepper, cook until combined. Remove from the heat, reserve in a bowl and set aside.
When you are ready to assemble the crepe, use the same large non-stick skillet, brush it generously with canola oil and heat on high heat. Sizzle about 3/4 cup of the filling to reheat and add about a ladle full (1 cup ish) of the crepe mixture and swirl around.
When arranging the the filling on the pan prior to adding the batter, a good tip is to leave a line in the center where you intend to fold the crepe. That will prevent chances of it being broken by a stubborn mushroom or piece of tofu. Cover with a lid without touching the crepe. If you do not have a lid, create a dome with aluminum paper. Cook for 4 minutes. The crepe will crisp up and brown beautifully.
Add a generous amount to one half of the crepe.
Cover and let cook for 1-2 minutes until bean sprouts are warmed and slightly wilted. Fold the crepe in half.
Keep warm in an oven until you finish your bath, or serve immediately with traditional accompaniments and this vegan mock fish sauce.
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar unseasoned
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 Carrots
- 4 teaspoons garlic minced
- Juice of one lime
- 1 teaspoon fresh red chili pepper
As easy as they come. Mix all together.
- Large lettuce leaves
- Shredded carrot
- Shredded green papaya
- Cilantro, Basil and Mint
How to eat
Cut a piece of the Banh Xeo and place in a lettuce leaf. Add your desired vegetables and roll.
Dunk in the fish sauce.
And eat. Be happy.