Lately, I have been very busy travelling and interviewing for optometry school. On my recent trip to California, I stayed with an aunt who is a wonderful cook, and for dinner she served homemade banh bot loc sans banana leaf. So naturally, I begged her to teach me the recipe, and she gladly did.
Banh bot loc is an item you don’t see in most Vietnamese restaurants. Instead, it’s an item they sell in only the most Vietnamese congregated areas (ie California), where it’s usually brought home and steamed. Banh bot loc comes from the region of Hue in Vietnam, a place where my dad’s side (my aunt) is from. It is usually dipped in nuoc mam, or fish sauce, and can be served as an appetizer or a meal dish. Traditionally, it is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed for a few hours. However, I like this recipe because you cut back those hours into a few minutes by boiling. There’s also no time consuming banana leaf wrapping. So here is a little simplified version of banh bot loc.
Banh Bot Loc – Vietnamese Shrimp & Pork Dumplings
**Note: Recipe makes 100-130 bite sized dumplings
- 1 lb of Pork Stew
- White wine – optional
- Ginger – dollar coin sized slice
- 1 & 1 Tbsp of Salt
- 1 lb of Small Shrimp – washed, peeled and deveined
- 6-7 cloves Garlic – diced
- 1/2 White Onion – diced
- ~2-3 Tbsp Mushroom Powder
- 1/4 Tbsp Sugar
- 5 spoons of Nuoc Mam
- 3 pinches of Paprika
- 2- 3 pkg of Bot Banh Bot Loc (Dough Mix) – 4 elephant brand recommended (bon con voi)
- Green Onion – diced
- Fried Shallots topping/Hanh Phi – can be bought
1. Add 1 Tbsp of salt and a dash of white wine for to the pork. This will transform it from stinky pork to good smelling pork! Wash over water.
2. Bring water to boil. Add ginger and pork and cook for about 10 minutes. If it’s still a little raw – it’s ok, we’ll cook it again. Boiling will clean the pork of bacteria as well as start the cooking process. Rinse meat.
3. Dice shrimp and pork into very small pieces. Place in a large bowl.
4. Add in 1 Tbsp salt, 1 full soup spoon of mushroom powder (~2-3 Tbsp), a good amount of pepper, 1/4 Tbsp sugar, 5 spoonfuls of nuoc mam/fish sauce, and 3 pinches of paprika to the bowl. Do not mix!!!
5. Start heating oil in a saute pan. Be generous on the oil. Add garlic and onion and saute until golden brown.
6. Add shrimp and then the pork (keeping the shrimp at the bottom of the pan).
7. Saute for 15-20 min. Taste! Add more nuoc mam and mushroom powder for more flavor, salt if bland, add sugar if too salty. Set aside when throughly cooked.
1. Empty one package into a bowl. Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of boiling water to dough.
2. Knead dough. If still dry, add more water in little by little and knead it in.
3. Pull small pieces of dough and roll into small balls (about size of those little rubber bouncy balls). The banh bot loc will be bite sized. If you would like it bigger, create larger sizes.
Putting it together
1. Flatten a ball in your hand. Add a little bit of the shrimp/pork mix.
2. Close the dumpling in a half circle. Press the ends together very tightly – as tight as possible! The dumplings can easily open when cooked.
3. If you have time and want prettier dumplings, you can take a fork and press the ends.
4. Repeat steps until all dough or shrimp/pork mix is used up.
5. Bring water to boil and add a little olive oil. Place dumplings in water.
6. Allow to cook. Dumplings will float to the top. When all have started to float, allow 1-2 min extra to cook until dough turns clear. Scoop out.
7. Optional Green Onion topping – saute green onion in a generous amount of olive oil. Pour on top of dumplings and toss.
8. Place on serving dish and garnish with fried onions (hanh phi). Serve with nuoc mam dipping sauce or soy sauce dipping sauce.
PS. I was admitted into optometry school 🙂