We first came across these delicious stuffed pancakes in a market in coastal Hoi An in Vietnam. The lady running the stall had a massive vat of the pancake batter and about 8 gas burners to cook them on. She started first thing in the morning and made the bánh xèo for breakfast for tourists and workers alike,
churning them out until the batter was gone. Then she packed up and headed home for the day. To be honest they were so good she wasn’t there much after 10.30 am.
When you find something you love on your travels it can be a bit of a worry trying to recreate them at home but these bánh xèo work really well, especially in a wood fired oven and the ingredients used are all easy to get hold of. They are great for breakfast or brunch but work well at any time of the day.
- Yield: 8 pancakes 15 cm/6” in diameter
- 8 oz 1⅘ cups (225 g) rice flour
- 1 oz 2 tbsp (30 g) cornflour (cornstarch)
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ pint 1¼ cups (300 ml) water
- 3½ fl oz 7 tbsp (100 ml) coconut milk
- 4 oz (120 g) cooked prawns
- 5 oz (150 g) button mushrooms, finely sliced
- 6 spring onions (scallions), very thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 7 oz (200 g) bean sprouts
- Sunflower oil for frying
- 4 large handfuls shredded iceberg lettuce or Chinese leaf mixed with ½ handful each roughly chopped fresh coriander and freshly chopped mint
- Mix together the rice flour, cornflour, ground turmeric and salt and stir in the water and coconut milk to get a smooth batter. Leave the batter to stand for 30 minutes.
- Mix all the mushrooms with 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil and cook in a small frying pan in the oven until the mushrooms are golden brown. Stir in the spring onions and garlic and turn all of them into a clean bowl.
- Put a 15 cm/6” frying pan in the oven to heat through for a couple of minutes and add 1 tbsp sunflower oil.
- Add ⅛ of the batter and swirl around the base of the pan. Put it into the oven and let the pancake cook for 2 minutes. Add ⅛ of the mushroom mixture to the surface of the pancake and put the pan back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes.
- 30 seconds before the pancake is ready, sprinkle over ⅛ of the bean sprouts and ⅛ of the prawns. Using a flexible spatula take the bánh xèo out of the pan. The pancake will come away from the base of the pan when it’s ready so don’t panic if it’s sticking a little; just cook it until it comes away from the base on its own.
- Put a handful of the leafy mixture on top of the bean sprouts and fold the bánh xèo in half.
- Serve at once with a little chilli dipping sauce and carry on cooking the rest of the mixture and using the rest of the ingredients until you’ve made another 7 bánh xèo.