I learnt this Crispy Vietnamese Crepe Recipe(bánh xèo), a popular and delicious Vietnamese street food, from a Vietnamese refugee in London. These fresh and zingy sizzling pancakes are not difficult to make, but do require knowing a few tricks to get crispy, which I'll share in the post below!
⭐ Why This Recipe is a Star
- Delicious: These Vietnamese crepes, or Bánh Xèo, are sooo fresh, savory and delicious. If you like French crepes and Vietnamese cuisine, such as rice paper rolls, you'll love this Vietnamese pancake!
- Readily Available Ingredients: You can get all the ingredients from a regular supermarket (just go to the International Aisle.) No need to head all the way to Asian grocery stores!
- Simple: I'm not going to lie and say it's easy. Getting the pancakes crisp enough to fold can be tricky but, once you've mastered the tips I've outlined below, you'll get the hang of it! (This is not the kind of recipe where you can wing it, or you may end up with a Vietnamese scrambled pancake instead!)
What is Bánh Xèo?
Bánh Xèo, or Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe, is a popular Vietnames street snack that is like a crispy, folded thin, golden crepe. The name refers to the sound the banh xeo batter makes when it hits the hot pan.
You will need a few simple ingredients for this Banh Xeo recipe:
- white rice flour: Do NOT substitute with glutinous rice flour. We want crispy pancakes, not chewy ones!
- turmeric powder: The turmeric gives the crepe a beautiful golden color and a warm flavor.
- unsweetened coconut milk: When out,I sometimes substitute with diluted (with water) coconut cream. However, you have to be careful if you do so, as the consistency of the batter is important to get a crisp crepe.
- green onion: if making the batter in advance, add the spring onions to the golden batter right before you want to cook.
- neutral vegetable oil: do NOT skimp on the oil. Since we're switching out the pork belly for minced pork, we need to use extra oil to compensate, if not the crepe may stick to the pan and not fold nicely. You can also substitute the oil with homemade pork lard for extra flavor.
- pork: Pork belly is traditional but I use ground pork to make the dish slightly healthier. Feel free to use pork belly if you wish: it'll take a little longer to cook but, other than that, no changes necessary. (It's not necessary to marinate the pork and shrimp because we have the flavorful Nuoc Cham dipping sauce!)
- shrimp: peel and keep the shells to make prawn oil or seafood stock.
- onion: any color onion will do but red onions are the sweetest. You can also use sliced shallots.
- mung bean sprouts: Asians traditionally pluck off the stringy tails of these sprouts before cooking.
Bánh Xèo are usually served with:
- lettuce leaves: I get my lettuce and herbs super fresh by using the Click and Grow indoor gardening set. (It works even in super dark houses, like mine! So dark, I have mis-read 260C as 160C on the oven several times!)
- fresh greens: I like fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint and Thai basil
- Nuoc Cham dippping sauce: do not omit this essential Vietnamese dip which gives the yellow crepes much of their flavor. It is made from garlic, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. (If you don't have lime juice, you can use rice vinegar or, in a pinch, apple cider vinegar. It will smell different but taste just as good.)
Note: Some people also like to add mung beans to the batter and serve with rice paper on the side.
📖 Variations & Substitutes
- Vegetarian Delight: Skip the prawns and pork and load up on colorful vegetables such as bell peppers and carrots. (Do not use mushrooms as they will release a lot of water, and will make it hard to get a crispy crepe.) I suggest pairing the veggies with some firm tofu for a constrast in texture.
- Seafood Extravaganza: Use a mix of seafood such as squid, fish, abalone, and crab for a taste of the ocean. If on a budget, use Surimi crabstick!
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Prepare the Crepe Batter
2. Add the spring onions and mix again. Let the rice batter rest for at least 30 minutes.
Note: if you want to make the batter beforehand, only add the spring onions right before you want to cook.
3. Heat oil in a non-stick panon medium high heat. When shimmering but not smoking, add the onions and stir fry until translucent and aromatic.
4. Add the ground pork and cook until it's no longer pink. Push it to the side of the pan.
5. Add the prawns to the nonstick skillet and cook until they turn opaque. Mix up the pork and the prawns in the pan.
6. Reduce to medium heat and add at least half a tablespoon of oil, maybe more. Pour a quarter cup of the crepe batter into the hot skillet, swirling it to cover the base thinly. (You may need more or less batter depending on the size of your pan.)
7. Add a handful of bean sprouts and herbs. Cover and allow the steam to cook the mung beansprouts for 2-3 minutes.
8. Uncover and reduce to low heat. Continue to cook till the edges turn crispy and start curling away from the pan. Carefully fold half the crepe over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Cook for an additional minute.
Carefully slide the crepe onto a plate. Serve the Banh Xeo crepes with fresh herbs, lettuce leaves and Nuoc Cham dipping sauce on the side. (You can use the leaves to make a lettuce wrap!)
Repeat till all the batter is used up.
🥡 How to Store
Note that reheated Bánh Xèo may not be as crispy as freshy made ones.
However, here are some tips to get them as crisp as possible:
- Cool: Allow the cooked crepes to completely cool down at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before storing. (No longer to prevent the meat and seafood from going bad.) This prevents excess moisture from making the crepes soggy.
- Separate: Place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper in between each crepe. This prevents them from sticking and tearing when you reheat them.
- Stack: Stack the crepes neatly and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Make sure the wrapping is airtight to prevent air and moisture from getting in.
- Refrigerate: Place the wrapped crepes in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator for no more than 1-2 days.
The crepes can be reheated in a few ways. My favorite is to pan-fry in a skillet or wok.
- Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C or 157°C fan). Place the crepes on a Silpat or baking sheet. Heat in the oven for about 10- 15 minutes until they are warmed all the way through and the edges regain some crispiness.
- Skillet: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place the crepes in the skillet, one at a time. Heat for about 3-5 minutes per side until they are warm all the way through, and the edges are crispy.
- Microwave: If you need quick reheating method, you can use a microwave BUT the crepes will be soft and not crispy. Place the crepes on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Microwave in 15-second intervals until the crepes are heated through.
- Serve: Once reheated, serve the crepes with fresh herbs and dipping sauce, just as you would when they are freshly made.
Unfortunately, the crepes do not freeze well.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips To Get Crispy Crepes
Tip #1: Use a thick non-stick skillet that will transmit heat evenly. If not, you'll find your crepes sticking to the pan and tearing when you try to fold them.
Tip #2: Make sure the pan is well-heated before pouring the batter.
Tip #3: Add a lot of oil before pouring in the batter!
Tip #4: The batter has to be at the right consistency. I'm all for kitchen experiments, but if you make the batter too thin or too thick, it'll make it more difficult to get your crepes to fold correctly. As such, do not use Cups to measure the ingredients for the batter- weigh out the ingredients!
Tip #5: You can also substitute 3 Tablespoons of rice flour for cornflour to get extra crisp.
Tip #6: Don't overload the crepe with ingredients.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Yes, you can prepare the batter a few hours to a few days ahead. Store it in the fridge and just give it a good whisk to mix everything up again before using.
🥗 Suggested Accompanying Recipes
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Crispy Vietnamese Crepe Recipe (Bánh Xèo)
- Large bowl
- 7-8 inches Nonstick pan with lid
- Heatproof spatula
For the crepe batter
For the crepe filling
- 7-14 neutral vegetable oil substitute: pork lard. You will need 1-2 Tablespoons per pancake.
- ½ onion sliced thinly
- 8.8 oz ground pork pork belly is traditional but I use ground pork to be healthier. Use ground pork with more fat in it if possible (minimim 20% fat)
- 36 shrimp About 15-17 oz. I use 3 shrimps per pancake. Peel and devein.
- 7 oz mung beans Pluck off the stringy tail if you have time
- fresh herbs such as coriander, Thai basil, mint, red chilies
For the dipping sauce
- 5 cloves garlic Or to taste. Peeled and minced.
- 5 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 Red Bird's Eye Chilies Or to taste. Use large chilies and remove the seeds if you can't take spice as bird's eye chilies are spicy. Mince or slice. Do not touch your eyes after handling chilies.
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice Substitute: white rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2½ Tablespoons White Sugar
Prepare the batter
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together rice flour, turmeric powder, and salt.
- Gradually add coconut milk and water while whisking to create a smooth batter.
- Add the spring onions and mix again. Let the rice batter rest for at least 30 minutes.Note: if you want to make the batter beforehand, only add the spring onions right before you want to cook.
- Using medium-high heat, heat up ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan till shimmering but not smoking, then sauté the sliced onions until translucent and fragrant.
- Add the ground pork and stir-fry until it's no longer white and opaque. Push it to the side of the pan.
- Add the prawns and cook until they turn opaque. (This will be quite quick.) Mix up the pork and the prawns in the pan.Note: if you can't push the pork and shrimp around the pan smoothly, add more oil.
- Once the protein is cooked, lower the heat to medium and add at least half- 1 tablespoon of oil and pour a quarter cup of the crepe batter into the hot skillet, swirling it to cover the base thinly. (You may need more or less batter depending on the size of your pan.)
- Add a handful of beansprouts and sliced chilies, if desired. Cover and allow the steam to cook the mung beansprouts for 2-3 minutes.
- Uncover, lower the heat and continue to cook for a few more minutes till the edges turn crispy and start curling away from the pan. Carefully fold half the crepe over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Cook for an additional minute till crisp.
- Carefully slide the crepe onto a plate. Serve the Banh Xeo crepes with fresh herbs, lettuce leaves and Nuoc Cham dipping sauce on the side
- Repeat till you've used up all the ingredients.
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