After a whirlwind of Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and Chicago, I’m now in the comforts of my thankfully warm Phoenix home. I was able to taste some authentic Philly cheese steak, Boston seafood (clam chowder!), tour the New York Chinatown and Little Italy and my favorite Chicago and New York hot dogs (best form of processed meat in my opinion).
The Must-Do Gray's Papaya Dog
I was fairly impressed with New York’s Chinatown. After being raised in California and palettely spoiled with all its Asian delicacies and comfort food, I had my doubts about New York, however gigantic the city might be. However, I was impressed by a little hole in the wall roast duck specialty store where my parents had the rice porridge with duck and I had the egg noodle with duck and dumplings. I must say, BEST dumplings I’ve ever tasted in my life. Even better than grandma’s (sorry grandma)! What I really enjoyed about the east coast the plethora of amazing European food which we don’t get as much of on the west coast.
Real/Non-Pizza Hut pizza - Fresh mozzarella = yum!
Now that interviews are over and I have decided on a school in California (yes! I’m moving to California!), I am happy to say that I can devote more time to daily recipe updates! And now…to the real recipe!
Banh xeo is a recipe I have been wanting to post for quite a while now. It is one of my absolutely favorite Vietnamese dishes and nothing reminds me more of home than the sound of the sizzling banh xeo being cooked by my grandma outside. It is also a very popular street cart food in Vietnam that can be eaten as a snack, appetizer or even a main meal. The word “banh” means “cake” and “xeo” comes from the appropriately named sizzling sound made by the cooking crepe. It is a savory crepe of traditionally shrimp and pork. Here, we can see the immense influence of the French on the Vietnamese culture with introduction of the crepe. Like traditional crepes, banh xeo is at its best when it is as crispy and thin as possible. This is why it must be served immediately – no one wants a soggy crepe!
Banh Xeo – Vietnamese Crepe
Serves about 8-10
- 1/2 pkg of mung beans – soaked for at least 5-6 hours prior to cooking
- 1 pkg Banh Xeo flour mix
- 3 1/2 Cups of water – **can be substituted for 2 1/2 Cups of water and 1 cup of cocount milk or regular milk for more flavor, but more calories!
- 1 bunch of scallions – diced into about 1/4″ pieces; slice the whites into 3 slices (you don’t want a mouthful of scallion!)
- 2-3 Squid tubes – washed and cut each into 3 pieces
- Chicken thigh or Pork shoulder – washed and sliced thin (pork is traditional, but I prefer chicken)
Banh Xeo Flour
- ~1lb of shrimp – washed, peeled and deveined
- 1 box of mushroom – sliced
- 1 1/2 white onion – make multiple cuts longways
- 1 bag of bean sprouts -washed
- 7 large eggs – beaten
- Garlic powder
- Lettuce and Nuoc mam (fish sauce) – for serving
***Note: All ingredients in banh xeo are up to your discretion. Shrimp, pork and bean sprouts are traditional, but my family loves it with extra squid, mushroom and onion! You may add anything you desire.
Preparing the Mixture
1 . Empty flour contents into a large bowl (including the packet of turmeric).
2. Add in the 3 1/2 cups of water (or the coconut milk/water if you prefer to substitute). Mix well until flour is dissolved.
3. Drain your mung beans and place in a blender. Add a little water – about 1/4 cup – and blend until a watery smoothie consistency. If it is too thick, add a little more water and blend again. Stir into flour mixture.
4. Stir in the scallions into the flour mixture.
5. Take your squid and lay it flat. Take a knife and thinly make a criss-cross pattern. Do the same to the other side. Slice the squid into strips. Repeat for all pieces of squid. Set aside.
Squid strips - hard to see criss-cross pattern pre-cooked
6. Season your meat, shrimp, and squid garlic powder and salt – season just enough to cover everything.
7. Saute your onions until 3/4 of the way cooked. Do the same for your shrimp and squid.
8. Saute your chicken/pork until close to fully cooked.
Making the Crepe
1. Add oil generous to your frying pan and turn to medium heat. It is best to use a non-stick.
2. Add in a few pieces of onion and about 3-4 pieces of mushroom and chicken/pork. Saute for a minute or so.
3. Add in your about 3 pieces of both squid and shrimp. Saute for another minute or two.
4. Spread pieces evenly on the pan. Restir your mixture (the flour will have begin to set on the bottom) and ladle in your flour mixture to make a very thin crepe. When you begin to add the mixture, swirl it around the pan so that it is spread evenly all across the pan – especially to the edges! This will also prevent it from becoming too thick at the center.
5. Add in a handful of bean sprouts.
6. Add a small scoop of egg mixture (I use a small ladle).
7. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes or until the bottom of the crepe is nice and golden brown.
Crispy Edges - Lift to check for golden brown
7. Flip the crepe in half and gently press it together. Set aside. Repeat steps until all mixture is used.
**Note: The mixture and ingredients can be stored if you do not want to use all of it.
8. Serve with lettuce and nuoc mam. Some people like to wrap the crepe in the lettuce or even in a paper spring roll and dip it in nuoc mam. I personally like to just eat it off a plate and add some shredded lettuce and nuoc mam on top – I find it a lot less messy!