Banh Xeo - Happy Sizzling Rice Crepes
Sometime over these past few years, my friends and I made a ritual of going up to Vietnam Town, Argyle, in Chicago to have our weekly hangover brunch and recap the musings of the week. It was our girl time. It became a sunday morning ritual that I looked forward to week after week. We’d share what was on our mind over fairly guilt free appetizers and finished off the meal with bowls of piping hot pho and bun bo hue. By guilt free, I mean we ate these amazing morsels that came in a citrus vinaigrette and a massive side of greens and herbs. It’s all about balance, right?
One of the appetizers that i always ordered was the Banh Xeo. I had tried to make a few times during my childhood thinking that the yellowness of the crepe came from eggs or curry… they tasted alright, but it wasn’t quite it. It was heavy, gooey and not very crispy. Then eventually, I realized it was just rice flour and turmeric. Oddly enough, turmeric was not a spice I grew up using too often. I googled a few recipes of of Banh Xeo but couldn’t find one that was crispy or airy enough.
Through a bit of searching and a bit of consulting with my Vietnamese friend in Atlanta, BTW she’s a mommy boss vietnamese cook goddess. She suggested that I made the batter with Coconut Cream for a deeper flavor and Beer for lightness of the batter.
I had my starting point. I tried a few recipes our and batter proportions and came to realize that the rice flour keeps the crepes crispy and light. The wheat flour makes the crepe foldable and adds gluten. Without it, the crepe does not brown.
This dish is easy to make for a huge family gathering once you get the rhythm down. Just like American pancakes, there’s always that sacrificial first pancake to the skillet gods. My first pancake always comes out a little soggy as I’m seasoning my pan and testing the heat of the skillet.
Serve with Nuoc Cham