I LOVE bánh xèo. Crunchy, savoury, fresh and fun to eat with your hands and share with friends. The Vietnamese are really onto something when it comes to herby freshness and crispy fried goodness, what a clever bunch. My favourite place to eat these is at Thanh Ha2 on Victoria St, Richmond (and I've sampled many up and down the strip). Seeing the oval melamine plates of enormous, crispy and frilly bánh xèo crepes filled with goodies paraded out of the kitchen truly is a thing of beauty. Well to my eyes anyway.
Now that I've moved northside, I've had to makeshift my own version to get my fix. These are no way traditional or as grand, but make do with the equipment I have – a small stovetop burner and a mini frypan (I don't actually own a wok, shocking, I know). The result? An inside out, taco style bánh xèo where you wrap the crepe around the filling and fresh herbs and greens. It's SO good and not as hard to make as you may think.
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced (or use the white part of the spring onion for a less intense garlic taste)
3 small red chillies
140ml fish sauce
2 tbsp water
1 lemon, juiced fresh red chilli, finely diced
2 cups of rice flour
2 tsp turmeric
2 cup water
1 cup tinned coconut milk
4 spring onions, thinly sliced, green part only
2 handfuls of pearl oyster mushrooms, torn into bite sized pieces
1 handful of enoki mushrooms, trimmed and torn into bite sized clumps
oyster sauce to taste
fish sauce to taste
spring onions, cut into 3 inch pieces
2 handfuls of bean sprouts, washed
mixed lettuce leaves, washed
fresh perilla leaves (a must!), washed
fresh mint leaves, washed
fresh coriander, washed
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
Mix all the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved and pour into 1 or 2 small dipping bowls. Set aside.
In a jug with a pouring spout, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
In a super hot frying pan, add some veg oil and stir fry the brown mushrooms in the oyster and fish sauce until nicely caramelised.
Add the spring onions and bean sprouts until just wilted, set aside and keep warm in the pan.
Heat a mini non-stick frying pan and add a little veg oil. Give the batter a good mix as the rice flour is probably all sitting on the bottom, and pour the batter into the pan and swirl to cover. It should be a fairly thin consistency in order to make a thin, crisp and lacey crepe. Flip after a few minutes then transfer onto a plate. Repeat until all done.
Gather all your elements and the plate of herbs and greens. Sit down, open a beer and get to it!