Vietnamese street food

Posted on: 8th February, 2016

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty, info@lettercollum.ie, www.lettercollum.ie

This is great recipe to perk your taste buds up, a little bit of sunshine to brighten February.

Banh Xeo are the most delicious Vietnamese savoury pancakes. They are fried until crispy then rolled up in salad leaves with mint and dunked in dipping sauce before popping into your mouth.

Guaranteed to make you swoon. Our family thought they’d died and gone to heaven when I made them for dinner. Just silence and appreciative grunts coming from the dinner table.

The pancake is made with rice flour, or a combo of rice and wheat flour mixed together with coconut milk, spring onion, egg and turmeric. This is whisked to a smooth batter. I made them with prawns, mushrooms and beansprouts but the filling is fairly freelance. Whatever you fancy but don’t put too much in as the pancake will be unmanageable when you flip it.

The inclusion of regular flour makes them more manageable for non-coeliacs but the recipe works well both ways.

Ingredients:

For the pancakes

200g rice flour or combo of rice and regular flour

2tbs cornflour

1 egg

half tsp turmeric

a handful of chopped spring onion greens

150mls coconut milk

about 100mls water

half tsp salt

For the filling

20 raw prawns – 2 for each pancake

250g mushrooms

250g bean sprouts

a little butter or oil to cook the mushrooms

Salad leaves – washed and spun

a big bunch of mint leaves

Method:

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the middle then crack in the egg and add the coconut milk.

Whisk everything together and thin with water until you have medium pouring consistency – like melted chocolate. Stir in the spring onions.

Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes

Heat a frying pan. Slice the mushrooms, drop a knob of butter or a glug of oil into the frying pan and add the mushrooms. Toss them well and cook on a high heat until they are cooked the way you like them. Season with a little salt and pepper and put aside.

To make the pancakes heat a small to medium size frying pan. Non-stick works best. Add a little oil and two prawns, cook them for a couple of minutes – until they are pink — then add a few of the cooked mushrooms. Drag the mushrooms and prawns to one side and pour in a small ladle of batter. Tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly

The pancake should be thin like a crepe. Cook on a medium high heat for a couple of minutes then add a small pile of bean sprouts to the pancake and flip in half so the filling is inside the pancake. Increase the heat to high and cook each side until crispy. You might want to add a little more oil.

Put the salad leaves and mint into bowls, make a little dipping sauce and put them in the centre of the table

Put the pancakes onto plates and break or cut a piece off and wrap it in a salad leaf with a couple of pieces of mint tucked in. Dunk in the dipping sauce and pop it in your mouth.

Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

3tbs Lime juice

2tbs Fish sauce/Nam Pla

1tbs water

2-3 Chillies

2 cloves garlic

1 dsp Sugar

Method:

Peel and chop the garlic and chop the chillies then mix together with all the other ingredients.

Banh Xeo are typical Vietnamese street food where the vendor will have three or four pans on the go all the time. They’re pretty nifty at it – I loved watching them and they can fairly churn them out.

However as we don’t all make pancakes all day everyday, and as this food is made to be eaten – not kept warm in the oven whilst you keep cooking, don’t invite half the neighbourhood to dinner or you’ll never get to sit down and eat one yourself!

Bring on the spring!

Karen

PS: Next cooking class is Thai on Saturday, March 19

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