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If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit the Southeast Asian bustling metropolis known as Vietnam, you’ll be no stranger to the abundance of culture, people and of course, the mopeds. One of the most travelled-to places in Asia, Vietnam is known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and vibrant cities, all of which wrap together to make it a truly awe-inspiring place to explore.
There’s never a dull moment when you go adventuring in a place like this, and if you’ve found yourself reading this blog, we’d almost bet on the fact that you’ve either been there or dreamt about going for something Vietnam is particularly well-known for — its cuisine.
Food is such a massive part of the culture and is almost always consumed around the notion of family. If you get the chance to share a meal with a group in Vietnam, you can expect to experience a style of dining that revolves around everyone getting a taste, and the food is laid out on the table for everyone to enjoy. If you’re a guest in someone’s home, it is likely that you will be invited to stay for dinner where your bowl will be filled by your host. Whether it is Goi cuon (fresh spring rolls), Banh mi (Saigon sandwich) or Pho (noodle soup), the depth and tradition of the flavours are bound to cause your taste buds to explode and jump for joy.
Then there’s Banh xeo — one of the most adored cuisines of Vietnamese culture that is packed full of flavour and hits the nail on the head every time. These sizzling pancakes not only taste incredible, but you can also hear them. In fact, they actually got their name from the sound they make when the rice batter hits a hot skillet. Their savoury thin goodness is eaten the traditional way when filled with pork belly and prawn, and doused in Nuoc cham (fish sauce infused dipping sauce).
While it might be a way off before you can get yourself to Vietnam, the good news is, you can make it right at home. And we’re going to tell you how thanks to this recipe from Alison Adams she wrote for Taste.
220g (1 1/4 cups) rice flour
2 tbsp cornflour
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
310ml (1 1/4 cups) iced water
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of white pepper
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 brown onion, halved, cut into thin wedges
300g Pork porterhouse Steak, thinly sliced
12 cooked prawns, peeled, coarsely chopped
130g (2 cups) bean sprouts, trimmed
Butter lettuce leaves, to serve
Fresh mint leaves, to serve
60ml (1/4 cup) fish sauce
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp water
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 long fresh red chilli, halved, deseeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
To make the nuoc cham, combine fish sauce, lime juice, water, sugar, chilli and garlic in a small bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves.
Stir the combined flour, coconut milk, water, turmeric, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Season with white pepper. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight to rest.
Heat a 20cm (base measurement) non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until just smoking. Stir-fry the onion and pork for 5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Wipe the pan clean.
Lightly brush the pan with one-quarter of the remaining oil. Heat over medium-high heat until smoking. Add one-quarter of the flour mixture and tilt the pan, swirling batter to cover the base and slightly up the side. Cook for 5 minutes or until the underside is golden. Place one-quarter of the pork mixture and one-quarter of the prawn on half the pancake. Top with one-quarter of bean sprouts. Fold over to enclose. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Repeat with the remaining oil, flour mixture, pork mixture, prawn and bean sprouts. Cut each pancake into quarters and serve with lettuce and mint.