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.

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.

You will need Bot Bahn Xeo or Saigon Pan Cake Flour Mix and Coconut Cream (not milk)

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.

Getting the Bahn Xeo flour all wet with coconut

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.

Smooth, creamy, and slightly sweet, if all things in life where this way

Vegan Banh Xeo filling for about 6 crepes, the batter however, will give you enough for an army.

  • 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped

    Tasty Dry Tofu has a meatier consistency perfect for replacing ground pork and shrimp. However, any tofu will do.

  • 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.

Dry Tasty Tofu cut into small slivers

Add the tofu, season very well with salt and pepper, cook until combined. Remove from the heat, reserve in a bowl and set aside.

Cooking Mushrooms

Delicious filling made of mushrooms, tofu, shallots and garlic

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.

Adding the Banh Xeo batter to the filling

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.

Adding bean sprouts to half of the crepe for crunch and texture

Cover and let cook for 1-2 minutes until bean sprouts are warmed and slightly wilted. Fold the crepe in half.

Folding over the crepe from the non bean sprout side over

Keep warm in an oven until you finish your bath, or serve immediately with traditional accompaniments and this vegan mock fish sauce.

Crispy, hot and delicious Bahn Xeo with traditional accompaniments

Dipping 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.

Mock fish sauce with soy, rice vinegar, sugar, and spices

Traditional

  • Large lettuce leaves
  • Shredded carrot
  • Shredded green papaya
  • Cucumber
  • Cilantro, Basil and Mint

Arrange a plate of all or your favorite traditional accompaniments including lettuce, carrots, green papaya, cucumber, mint, basil and cilantro

How to eat

Cut a piece of the Banh Xeo and place in a lettuce leaf. Add your desired vegetables and roll.

Banh Xeo piece inside a lettuce leaf with carrots, cucumber, green papaya, mint and cilantro ready to roll up

Dunk in the fish sauce.

Get all the flavors to mingle

And eat. Be happy.

Want some?

Related posts:

Quinoa 101: Red, White, and Black
Big boy breakfast: Cashew Butter Apple Waffles
Purple Basil Coconut Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes with Mango Salsa
Peruvian Street Food: Picarones or Squash Sweet Potato Fritters

About this site

VeganGoodEats.com is a compilation of my favorite recipes and experiences. Erasing the stereotype that we eat rabbit food, I hope that the site inspires you to live a cruelty-free life. There is enough to live peacefully and indulgently.

About Joel Luks

Intellectually curious arts advocate. Design junkie & blogger. Creative nutty vegan chef loving all ethnic foods in a quest to ensure vegan food is seen as delicious, varied, and yes, sometimes, indulgent. Classical flutist & sucker for rhythmic music.

I work for CultureMap.com, a Houston-based lifestyle digital magazine, where I report on food, arts, society and city life, produce videos and curate an events guide.

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