Why to Make It:
"Banh chheo (or bánh xèo in Vietnamese), the savory crepe, was a special-occasion dish that took a lot of effort to prepare. We always made it on a Sunday. It had to be a day when everybody could come and sit together for hours, talking loudly and laughing while my mother and sister cooked. They would make twenty or thirty crepes at a time and feed half the neighborhood." —Chantha Nguon
How to Make It
Recipe: Bánh Xèo — Vietnamese Crepes
Makes 10-12 crepes.
For the batter:
1 ½ cups rice flour
1 ½ cups wheat flour
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ cups water (or more)
½ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 pound bean sprouts
1 pound pork belly, ground
½ pound shrimp
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced longwise into 1/2 inch pieces
For the dipping sauce:
½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (Can substitute salt if desired.)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1-2 fresh Thai chilis, chopped fine
fresh herbs, such as mint or Thai basil
small Asian cucumbers, thinly sliced
Prepare the filling:
Grind pork with half the shallots and garlic. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the rest of the sliced shallots and fry until soft but not browned. Then add garlic and fry until golden-brown.
Increase heat and add ground pork. Stir quickly until meat is cooked but not browned, then add a pinch of salt. If meat produces lots of liquid, remove it from pan and reduce sauce, then put meat back in and mix well. Add onion and stir-fry quickly, until slightly translucent. Set aside. (*note: Filling should not be watery, or it will dilute the crepe batter.)
In a separate pan, dry-fry shrimp on medium heat. Stir quickly until shrimp turns pink and is cooked through. Cut shrimp in half longwise and mix with fried pork and onion.
Prepare the batter:
Beat eggs well, then whisk in water, coconut milk, and salt. Add flour and whisk until mixed well. Do a test crepe to see if batter coats the skillet properly and tastes both light and crisp. If mixture is too thick, add water as needed. If too thin, add flour.
Prepare the dipping sauce:
Stir sugar and vinegar into warm water until dissolved. Add fish sauce. Adjust vinegar, fish sauce, and sugar to taste. Last, stir in garlic and chilis and refrigerate. (If you add garlic last, it floats on the surface and looks nicer.)
Prepare the crepes:
Brush a large skillet with oil and place over medium-high heat until oil is almost smoking. Pour in about 1/2 cup of batter (for a 10-inch skillet), then swirl to coat pan. Sprinkle a handful of bean sprouts on half the crepe and cover pan for 1-2 minutes (or until sprouts and crepe are cooked).
Scoop 1/3 cup of the pork (with 3-4 shrimp) on top of the bean sprouts and fold crepe over. Test for crispness, then transfer to a plate. Serve with lettuce, herbs, cucumbers and dipping sauce.