flipping out, vietnamese style

This beautiful Vietnamese pancake is not something I would ordinarily do at home (when you can go out for great/cheap Vietnamese) but the pickled carrot in this recipe really drew me in and I had to give this Banh Xeo a go.

April Gourmet Traveller is the source of inspiration for this meal with their fabulous pancake special which includes recipes for Buckweat Pikelets, Fried Egg Dosa and Okonomiyaki. I’ve already mentioned how much I love pancakes for breakfast but savoury pancakes haven’t really been my thing – until now.

Vietnamese food has such a fabulous ‘pow’ of flavour though I rarely venture beyond Pho (which I love) and rice paper rolls. This recipe looked so beautiful on the page and the pickled carrot seemed like the perfect combination of crunch and vinegar to make this dish amazing. The crepe was crispy and almost buttery in flavour with the cornflour and golden from the beautiful, yellow turmeric. I had to check the recipe on the Internet as I thought GT had accidentally omitted egg from the batter by mistake – of course they didn’t – it’s just not required for this type of crepe.

Gourmet Traveller, April 2013

Gourmet Traveller, April 2013

Gourmet Traveller, Pancake Special

Gourmet Traveller, Pancake Special

For those of you that think that life’s too short for julienning, you could be right, but it took me less than five minutes to whip these up and the resulting pile of carrot matchsticks makes you feel pretty satisfied afterwards. It’s also the only finicky part of the preparation.

Julienned Carrots

Julienned Carrots

The remainder of the meal is pretty straightforward and you will be ‘ooh’ing and ‘aah’ing for all the great tastes in the finished product. Try it.

SWITCH OUTS: Have I mentioned how much I loved the pickled carrots? So much so that even though I halved the recipe for two, I retained the amount of carrot. I also upped the prawn quota ever so slightly. The Gourmet version has a beautiful looking caramelised chilli sauce for serving. After all the julienning I didn’t have the wherewithal for that so I used some some sambal oelek for a chilli hit which I had in the fridge. Didn’t have grapeseed oil – used peanut oil instead.

BANH XEO (Serves 2)

Crepes
110gm Rice Flour
1 tbsp Corn Flour
1 tsp turmeric
200ml coconut milk
175ml cold water
1 spring onion, sliced
2 tbsp peanut oil

Filling
2 large handfuls of bean sprouts
2 large handfuls of shredded iceberg lettuce
10 king prawns, cooked and peeled

Pickled Carrot
2 carrots, julienned
150ml rice vinegar
100ml fish sauce
50gm caster sugar
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

To Serve
½ bunch mint leaves
½ bunch coriander
Lime wedges
Sambal Oelek

METHOD

1. Start by making the crepe mix as this needs to go into the fridge for an hour. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well, then add the milk and water. Stir until combined, add sliced spring onions then pop in the fridge.
2. To make the pickled carrot, put the rice vinegar, fish sauce and caster sugar on the heat stirring whilst heating until sugar is dissolved. Add the chilli and garlic and bring to boil. Switch off and add julienned carrot.
3. After giving your crepe mix an hour put a non stick pan on the heat and add 1 tbsp of peanut oil, heating until smoking.
4. Ladle crepe mix into hot fry pan and swirl around until thin and fully covered including up the side of the pan. Let cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. Layer five prawns, a large handful of pickled carrot, ice berg and bean sprouts on one side of the crepe then flip over on one side.

Banh Xeo Pre Flip

Banh Xeo Pre Flip

Banh Xeo Post Flip

Banh Xeo Post Flip

6. Scoop onto a plate and repeat for the second portion.
7. Top both crepes with mint, coriander and serve with lime wedges and sambal oelek on the side. Brace yourself for a taste sensation.

Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo

WATCH OUTS: Make sure your non stick frypan is in order because these crepes are pretty delicate and would be a total disaster if attempted in a pan that caused the crepes to ‘stick’. My first crepe was a little thick – almost pancake like – don’t do that it makes the meal stodgy when the crepes are suppose to be crispy and light. If the crepe breaks (as mine did) don’t panic – you’ll cover it up with the herbs at the end anyways.

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