This is another recipe that has been requested many times. With quarantine, I finally have the time to test and develop recipes like this, so I am excited to finally share it. Banh Xeo is a personal favorite and one I usually ate at restaurants growing up because this dish was just not my mom’s thing. However, she recently started making it, so I called her last week to get some tips and tricks. I also did a little research in addition to multiple tests. This recipe is a little bit of me, my mom, and the internet. Enjoy!
What is Banh Xeo?
Banh Xeo is essentially a crispy, Vietnamese crepe. Yes it’s another dish that has French origins. The main difference between Vietnamese and French crepes is that Vietnamese crepes are crispy on the outside and filled with savory ingredients while French crepes are soft throughout. In addition, French crepes can be either savory or sweet. Vietnamese crepes are traditionally filled with onions, pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and mung beans. They are then eaten with fresh herbs and veggies.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
Below are all the ingredients you will need to make the batter from scratch. You also have the option to buy pre-mixed banh xeo flour at an Asian grocery store or on Amazon. Follow the instructions on the package to make the batter.
- Rice flour – The rice flour forms the base of the batter. Make sure to buy the regular white rice flour, not glutinous or sweet rice flour. Sweet rice flour will not give your banh xeo the crispy texture you’re looking for.
- Corn starch – Corn starch helps thicken the batter and gives the crepe the signature crispy outside.
- Turmeric powder – Turmeric powder gives banh xeo its signature yellow color. You can also use fresh turmeric for this recipe.
- Coconut milk – Coconut milk helps thicken the batter.
- Beer – This non-traditional ingredient was a suggestion from my mom. She says it helps give the shell it’s crispy texture. Any kind of beer should work for this recipe (IPAs, pilsners etc). If you don’t want to use beer, substitute with water.
- Egg – Adds richness to the batter.
- Water – Water helps provide enough movement in the batter, so you can get a thin shell when you cook it.
- Salt – Brings out the flavor of the other ingredients. Without salt, the shell will taste a little bland.
- Green onions – Adds freshness to the crepe. Make sure to add this only right before cooking because it will become soggy and gross.
- Onion – I used yellow onion for this recipe because of its sweetness. Substitute with white onion if you can’t find yellow onions.
- Pork shoulder – You can use pork shoulder or pork belly for banh xeo. I chose to use pork shoulder because it has less fat than pork belly.
- Shrimp – Small or medium sized shrimp should work. You want to avoid large shrimp because it will make the banh xeo hard to fold in half.
- Mung beans (optional) – I love the taste of mung beans, but you can leave it out.
- Bean sprouts (optional) – Adds freshness and a crunchy texture to the recipe, but can also be left out.
How to make banh xeo
This is at least a 1/2 day cooking project. First you have to prep all your ingredients. Mix all the ingredients for the batter and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours. I would highly recommend letting it sit overnight, so the ingredients can set. Next boil your pork and slice into thin pieces. Set aside. Lastly, boil your mung beans in 1 cup of water until they are soft. Set aside.
Making banh xeo
When you are about ready to make your banh xeo, make sure you have your batter and fillings ready. Add a few pieces of onion and shrimp to a 8 inch nonstick pan. Let them cook until the shrimp start to turn orange. Add in a few pork pieces. As you add the ingredients to your pan, separate them down an invisible line at the center of your pan. This will make it easier to fold in half later.
After adding your pork pieces, spoon in 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl the pan so that it coats the bottom. Ladle in your batter. Tilt the pan in a circular motion as you spoon in your batter to get a very thin layer of batter at the bottom of the pan. Add in a small handful of mung beans and bean sprouts. Cover and cook for ~3 minutes until the crepe is cooked through and the outside is brown and crispy. Fold the banh xeo in half and slide it onto a plate. Repeat the process until your batter and/or filling is finished. After every 2 banh xeo you make, clean the pan with a paper towel. Make sure to eat them right away because they will turn soggy the longer you let them sit.
Don’t get discouraged if you are unable to make the perfect banh xeo the first few times. I messed up my first batch before I made these, and they are definitely not perfect. This dish is not about perfection; it’s about creating something yummy that you can share with your friends and family.
Tips on how to make the perfect banh xeo
- Use the correct rice flour – There are 2 kinds of rice flour – regular rice flour and sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour). Sweet rice flour is used for desserts and has a more pillowy texture when cooked. Regular rice flour is used for savory dishes like my banh cuon or banh beo. For this recipe, make sure to use regular rice flour.
- Refrigerate overnight for best results – Letting the batter set overnight allows it to thicken and hold together better.
- Use a nonstick pan – This is absolutely essential. A nonstick pan ensures your banh xeo doesn’t stick to the pan, making it easier to fold in half.
- Separate your filling down the middle of the pan – Make sure to separate your filling down an invisible line in the pan. This makes it easier for you to fold your banh xeo.
- How do you get that crispy exterior? – I did multiple tests, and I found that the key to a crispy skin is hot oil and a hot pan. You want that batter to almost fry a bit when it hits the oil. That’s why I don’t add any oil when I saute the onion and shrimp. I add it after, and I make sure it’s nice and hot before adding in the batter.
- Clean your pan every 2 banh xeo – Use a paper towel to clean your pan as you make your banh xeo. This step is important because as you make your banh xeo, little bits of food are left in the pan, and they start to burn. That’s why a few of my banh xeo have some black bits on them.
How do you eat banh xeo?
Banh Xeo is traditionally eaten with vegetables and dipped in Vietnamese dipping sauce. Use a large lettuce leaf like rice paper. Fill it with a small piece of banh xeo and some herbs and roll it like a spring roll. See picture above for an example. You also have the option to use rice paper to make spring rolls with banh xeo.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes (Banh Xeo)
- 3/4 lb pork shoulder thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup mung beans optional
- 3/4 lb shrimp
- 1/4 cup bean sprouts optional
- 1 head lettuce
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 cup Vietnamese dipping sauce
- Mix ingredients for the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. It is best to refrigerate overnight to allow the batter to thicken.
- Boil pork for half an hour. Slice into thin pieces and set aside.
- Add mung beans to a pan with 1 cup of water. Boil for 10 minutes until mung beans are soft. Set aside.
Make the banh xeo
- Take your batter out from the fridge and stir to reincorporate the batter.
- Right before you begin making your banh xeo, add the minced green onions to your batter.
- Before you start, make sure you have all your components ready. This would be your batter and fillings.
- Add onions and shrimp to a nonstick pan that is 8 inches in diameter. Saute for 1 minute over medium heat until the shrimp turns slightly orange. Add in a few pork pieces.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Make sure the pan and oil are hot before adding in your batter.
- Use a ladle to spoon in your batter. As you ladle in your batter, tip your pan in a circular motion so that the batter spreads in a thin layer throughout the pan. You should use a little less than 1/4 cup of batter each time. Add in 1 teaspoon of the mung bean and a small handful of bean sprouts. Cover and let cook for ~3 minutes until the banh xeo has cooked through and the outside is crispy.
- Once the batter has cooked through, fold it in half.
- Repeat process until your batter and/or filling is finished. After every 2 banh xeo you make, use a paper towel to clean the pan.
- Serve with fresh herbs and Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham).