It has been a while since I’ve last updated this blog!
Today, I want to write about one of my favourite dishes and my wife’s favourite Vietnamese dish as well: Vietnamese Crepes or better known as “Bánh Xèo” (pronounced “bun seo”).
The etymology of this particular dish’s name is as follows: Bánh in Vietnamese means bread, I have a sinking suspicion that it is a loan word that the Vietnamese picked up from the French colony days since there is a similar loan word in Japanese (Pan). “Xèo” is said to be the sizzling sound that the crepe makes when it is being cooked in a wok or frying surface.
If you are an avid Vietnamese food fanatic, you may be familiar with dishes such as Pho or Bun or Hu Tieu or the various rice combination dishes at Vietnamese restaurants… so perhaps you are asking, what in the world is this “Bánh Xèo”?
Bánh Xèo is delightful. I’ve only been making it for the past 2-3 years and I imagine it will still take me a number of more years before I get the consistency down to have the batter right so that the crepe comes out nice and crispy but not burnt.
Bánh Xèo is not like French crepes which are traditionally a sweet dish. Bánh Xèo, like most Vietnamese food, is savoury. In fact, the “fillings” in the crepe range from thinly sliced pork, or shrimp, or beef, and bean sprouts, and in South Vietnam, mung beans.
Now there are two main ways to prepare Bánh Xèo: in the South, it is generally prepared in a wok with the above ingredients including the mung beans and served as one large crepe that may be 12-16 inches in diameter. The Bánh Xèo is then served on a plate and one would tear off pieces of the crepe and wrap it in lettuce and dip it in traditional Vietnamese fish sauce (nước chắm).
However, since my family is from Central Vietnam, we serve Bánh Xèo differently. We make smaller plate-sized portions and will wrap the Bánh Xèo in rice paper and make a roll out of it and dip it into a thick sauce made from fish sauce, roasted peanuts and sesame seeds, and corn starch (trust me it’s delicious!).
If you come across a restaurant that sells Bánh Xèo in Calgary (there are some… and there is a restaurant solely dedicated to Bánh Xèo in Kensington), you will be forced to pay a pretty penny to eat it. Most restaurants will charge you $7-$12 for TWO rolls of Bánh Xèo… that’s highway robbery in my books.
Maybe in the next few weeks I’ll do up a video to show you how to make Bánh Xèo of your own, but if you can find a recipe online or on Youtube, try it out! It’s a great meal to have with a large group of friends. Also, if you choose to try making it, I suggest using bacon as a filling for the crepe as well! It’s TO DIE FOR.