If Vietnamese egg rolls are one of your favorite foods, more than likely Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes, Bánh Xèo, will join the list of favorites. Bánh Xèo, literally means sizzling (xèo) pastry. It’s a crispy, lacey crepe usually stuffed with a mix of pork, shrimp, onions and bean sprouts. It’s served sizzling hot. It may look like an omelette but it will not taste anything like one. Similar to the Vietnamese preferred way of eating egg rolls, you wrap a piece of the crepe with lettuce of choice and numerous options of greeneries, and then dipped in the sweet fish sauce. You will note, the repeat of the recipe for the Sweet Fish Sauce and the Lettuce Wrap Fixings from my egg roll posting.
Since the Vietnamese crepes are best served sizzling hot, there needs to be some prep work before hand so that you are ready to make the crepes to order just like omelettes. If you anticipate there will be selective eaters, you may want to have each of the stuffing ingredients for the crepes in separate prep bowls. The size of the crepes are really dependent on whether you are serving them for appetizer, lunch or dinner – choose from 8-12 inch fry pan. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep the crepes thin and lacey on the edges, not thick and doughy.
Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients. This dish comes together very quickly – unlike egg rolls. If you happen to live in an area with a large Asian community, more than likely the Asian grocery store will carry the pre-made batter for Vietnamese Crepes – labeled as Bánh Xèo. However, the crepe batter isn’t hard to make as long as you can get your hands on rice flour and tumeric – both can be found at Whole Foods for sure. If you don’t have tumeric, curry powder can be substituted.
Tips: If you need to make the sizzling crepes for a crowd or to make it ahead, you can place the finished crepes onto a parchment lined cookie sheet in a 200˚ oven to keep them warm and crispy for 30 minutes. Not much longer than 30 minutes since the fillings will dry out and crepes may lose crispiness. Left-over batter can be refrigerated for a few days – just make sure to whisk it well.
Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes (Bánh Xèo)
- 1 ½ cup rice flour
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 4 sprigs of green onions chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup of water
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ lb pork tenderloin/shoulder sliced
- ½ lb peeled shrimp
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 1 pound bean sprouts
- ½ cup of olive oil (to fry crepes)
- Crushed black pepper to taste
Sweet Fish Sauce:
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped or smashed)
- 1 fresh Thai chili (or ¼ tsp of hot chili peppers flakes)
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2-4 tbsp shredded carrots (or Vietnamese Relish)
Lettuce Wrap Fixings (optional):
- 1 washed head of lettuce (crisphead, butterhead or red leaf)
- 1 cucumber julienned
- 1 bunch of cilantro
1. Combine all ingredients for crepe batter in a large bowl and whisk until it the batter is slightly bubbly. Let stand for 15-30 minutes.
2. Prepare the lettuce wrap by washing all the lettuce fixings and place on a platter with the julienned cucumber.
3. Next, make the sweet fish sauce for dipping. Either finely chop garlic and pepper OR use a mortar and pestle to smash garlic and hot pepper. If you are using pepper flakes, no need to smash. Place the chopped or smashed garlic and pepper into a small bowl then add the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Stir well until sugar dissolves. If the sauce is not quite sweet enough add a bit more sugar. If the sauce is too sweet and not tangy enough for your taste, squeeze in some more lime/lemon juice to cut the sweetness.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a 10 inch fry pan on medium high heat. Add sliced pork and quickly stir-fry the pork, just until it’s half cooked. Transfer to a prep bowl. Next, add peeled shrimp to the fry-pan and similarly, stir-fry until the shrimps is partially cooked. Transfer to another prep bowl. Clean the fry pan with a paper towel to remove the moisture.
3. Now the crepes. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the fry pan on medium high heat. Stir the batter well. Pour a ladle if batter into the pan while swirling the pan to distribute the batter across the pan – creating a thin layer. As the sides of the crepes start sizzling, top crepes with desired filling: meat, shrimp, onions, bean sprouts, crush black pepper. Cover the pan for 1-2 minutes to steam the toppings. Remove lid and continue cooking on medium high heat until the crepe is crispy and golden. Fold the crepe in half and serve.
4. Continue preparing the rest of the crepes by following step 3 – adding more oil to the pan for each crepe.
5. Serve crepes with the dipping sauce and the lettuce wrap fixings.