Vietnamese savoury crêpes (Banh xeo)
Wednesday 06 February 2008
Banh xeo are often referred to as Vietnamese crêpes, although they look more like an omelette. In Vietnam the recipe also calls for yellow split mung beans, soaked in water and blended with coconut milk. If you can find them, soak about 40g in cold water for 1-2 hours, drain and blend in a liquidiser with the coconut milk. The filling for the crêpes varies, but the vegetables need to be crunchy, so bean sprouts, spring onion and white radish make a good start, then you can add some Asian herbs and leaves such as Thai basil, perilla, coriander, Vietnamese mint and mizuna, plus shredded cooked chicken or prawns. Pickled white radish and carrot (bought from Asian stores or made by pickling the sliced vegetable in rice vinegar, rather like Korean kim che) can also be added for extra acidity.
For the pancakes
100g rice flour, or potato flour
150-200ml coconut milk
40g yellow split mung beans, soaked (optional)
1 small free-range egg, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
For the filling
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
6-7cm mooli, shredded
3 spring onions, shredded on the angle
A selection of Asian leaves and herbs (see above)
120-150g shredded cooked chicken from the drumsticks, which have been previously poached in the stock
Nuoc cham (fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, rice vinegar, chillies and garlic mixed to taste)
Sweet chilli sauce
If you are using mung beans, drain them and liquidise with the coconut milk. Then, to make the pancakes, put the rice flour and turmeric in a bowl with the egg and slowly whisk in enough coconut milk so that you have a smooth batter. Season with salt.
Heat about half a tablespoon of vegetable oil in an 18-20cm non-stick pan, pour in a quarter of the pancake mixture and turn the pan from side to side to spread the mixture evenly. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until crisp. Remove with a spatula on to some kitchen paper and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
To serve, mix the vegetable, herbs and chicken or prawns together and arrange on one half of the pancake so that it can be folded. Serve with nuoc cham or some sweet chilli sauce or soy for dipping.
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