Vietnamese Shrimp & Pork Crepe with Bean Sprouts – Banh Xeo or Banh Khoai
Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese crepe traditionally filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. It is a very good dish but can be a bit challenging to make if you haven’t cooked crepes before. But just like everything else it takes practice. I first saw this savory crepe while watching a travel show filmed on the streets of Vietnam. What I thought was really cool is the name of the crepe, banh, meaning cake, and xeo which describes the sizzle sizzle sound of the crepe cooking in the wok. Banh xeo is best enjoyed fresh and with a few herbs and lettuce dipped in nuoc cham.
Ingredients for Crepe Batter (you have a few options here):
Banh Xeo Crepe mix (can be found at your local Asian market)
1 ¼ cup rice flour
1 ¼ cup soda mineral water
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp oil
Ingredients for Filling:
½ lb raw medium shrimp (you can always add more if you are leaving out the pork)
½ lb pork chop (thinly sliced)
1 bag of bean sprouts (about 2 cups)
1 bunch of scallions (diced)
1 cup mushrooms (you can pick your favorite or stick to something a bit more traditional like straw mushrooms)
2 Tbsp nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
Pinch of ground black pepper
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:
¼ cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
¼ cup sugar
Lime juice (to taste)
Hot sauce or hot peppers (finely chopped, to taste – optional)
For this recipe, just leave out the shrimp and pork. You can add tofu or some kind of mock meat such as pork or shrimp. I would also suggest adding a veggie or two such as green beans (which I have used when making this recipe for my sister, who loves them).
Lettuce leaves (mix it up)
Wok or heavy non-stick skillet
Large mixing bowl
Mix the ingredients for the batter in a large bowl and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
Clean the shrimp (peeling and deveining), cut in half and set aside in a bowl. Remove the fat from the pork and thinly slice into strips. Clean and dice the scallions. Mix the shrimp, pork, and scallions in a bowl with the fish sauce and ground black pepper to marinate for a few minutes.
In the meantime, clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth and cut into slices.
For the filling, there are 2 ways that it is done. One way where the raw meat and veggies are put directly into the crepe as it cooks. The other way which I think is better for making sure that the meat is cooked through, is to sautéed the pork and shrimp before you begin making the crepes. After cooking the meat set aside in a bowl.
In your wok or skillet, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around so that the pan is completely covered. Now the goal is to get the crepe as thin and crispy as possible. Put about a half a cup of the batter into the pan. Immediately swirl the batter around so that it is evenly spread over the skillet and the layer is very thin. As the batter cooks it will making a sizzling sound and bubble slightly. Now it’s time for the filling. On one half of the crepe, put a few tablespoons of pork and a few shrimp, topped with some mushrooms and bean sprouts. Allow to cook for a few minutes until the edge of the crepe has pulled away from the pan. Now use your spatula to lift the crepe and check for a nice golden brown color. If you are happy with the color and crispiness of the crepe, fold over and place on a plate for serving.
This is definitely a recipe that needs to be made fresh. You can’t really store the crepes in the fridge because they will become soggy and much less appetizing. However, if you decide to save some, instead of reheating in the microwave, it would probably be better to fry them up again.
If you are looking for this dish in a restaurant it is not going to be the easiest thing to find. In many cases Vietnamese restaurants, will use the word crepe to describe steamed rice flour rolls with similar filling ingredients. While these are still very tasty you are not going to satisfy your craving for a crispy savory crepe.