Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese crepes)

One of the real delights of foreign travel is sampling the local cuisine. If you decide to take a Vietnam tour, you will be delighted both by the flavours of the cuisine but also by the atmospheric places where you can eat the food. Street food is very popular and most Vietnam tour packages will include time walking narrow city streets, observing daily life. One of the things you will see being cooked by street vendors is Bánh xèo which is a batter filled with a variety of things, from vegetables to meat and seafood; you must try it. In some ways, they will remind you of crepes.

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It is food for the family; there is little point in preparing just two or three when with some simple ingredients of onions, beans and bean sprouts added to pork or shrimps you can make large batches. It makes for ideal volume food for street vendors to prepare and they are likely to be there for locals to eat for breakfast on the way to work and be made then for the rest of the day. You can use your hands to eat them if you wish so in theory you can eat them while you are on the move.

It is deep fried and looks like an omelette but there is no egg involved and the colour comes from the addition of turmeric; these crepes are crisp and should be eaten with plenty of greens. Wheat flour is central to the recipe and it certainly helps develop some brown in the final crepe. The batter is made from wheat and rice flour, water and coconut milk, salt and that turmeric. The batter should be allowed to stand for a couple of hours before use. It means that street vendors will be making batter throughout the day.

When it comes to the filling, pork and shrimp are most commonly used but you can actually put in pretty much anything. Each of the things used will be effectively cooked before being used a part of the filling because the cooking time of the crepe itself is very short.

The batter is poured into the pan which has a little hot oil in it. The filling is added almost immediately and a lid placed on top. Three minutes is enough for everything to go from liquid to a crisp circle which is then folded to make the semi-circular crepes ready to eat.

Bánh xèo is not something eaten exclusively from street vendors. If it is part of a family meal, there will be 2 or 3 for each family member as well as a selection of greens to eat with them. Fish sauce is extremely popular in Vietnam; the Country is famous for its fish sauce though tourists enjoying Vietnam may find it fairly pungent. It is but it is regularly used as a dipping sauce for such things as these crepes. The fish sauce may be ‘’sweetened’’ with other ingredients if you wish.