FreshTartSteph Recipe: Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Savory Pancakes)

If you haven’t experienced bánh xèo before, let me introduce you to this addictive Vietnamese street food. Naturally gluten-free, bánh xèo are simple, savory crepes made with rice flour and coconut milk. Served warm and filled with cool, crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, and drizzled with a spicy-salty sauce, they will blow your mind with flavor and texture achieved with very little effort.

I adapted the recipe to include local, seasonal treats from the market—in this case radishes, asparagus, and pea shoots. I’ll be playing with this recipe all summer long, adding summer squash, kohlrabi, cabbage…and on and on.

The batter sits nicely in the fridge for a couple of days, as do the sliced vegetables if you keep them separate from the sauce. Dinner in 10 minutes? OK! Oh the goodness of fresh vegetables and herbs! Oh the fun of wrapping them up in savory pancakes (I’m working on a savory pancake theme on my personal blog Fresh Tart)! Aren’t you glad it’s summer?

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Savory Pancakes)

Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4

Note: The recipe is meatless, and is absolutely delicious just that way, although feel free to add shrimp and/or pork if you like. Traditional bánh xèo are filled with both. I will be making the sauce all summer long to use as a salad dressing—it’s fantastic. I sliced the vegetables on a mandoline, then cut into julienne—fast chopping!

For the pancakes:
1 c. rice flour
1 large organic egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 can coconut milk
water as needed
sunflower oil (or other similar)

For the sauce:
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
1 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed

For the filling:
1 large carrot, peeled, shredded or sliced thin
1 daikon radish, peeled, shredded or sliced thin (I substituted local radishes)
4 spring onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 fresh green chili, shredded or sliced thin
1 c. sugar snap peas, sliced thin on the diagonal (I substituted local pea shoots)
handful of fresh cilantro, torn
handful of fresh basil, torn
handful of fresh mint, torn
1/2 c. mung bean sprouts (I substited local asparagus)
1/2 c. enoki mushrooms

In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, egg, salt, and turmeric. Whisk in the coconut milk. Add a little bit of water if needed to achieve a thin pancake batter consistency. Set aside to rest.

To make the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Adjust the chili to taste.

For the filling, toss the vegetables together in a large bowl.

Heat a nonstick saute pan over medium high heat. Add a small drizzle of oil and when it’s hot, swirl about 1/3 c. of batter into the pan. Cook until set and lightly browned, about 3 minutes, flip and cook for 1 minute, then turn out of the pan onto a baking sheet. Continue the same process to cook all of the pancakes.

To serve, place warm pancakes on a plate. Top with a handful of vegetables, drizzle with sauce, roll up and eat with additional sauce.