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Recipe Bánh Xèo – Turmeric Pancake with Spinach & Mung Bean Filling

Recipe image
Recipe image

A savoury, flavour-packed gift from Vietnam, bánh means “cake” while xèo refers to the sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter hits the hot pan. So if you’re unsure of the Vietnamese pronunciation here, “sizzle cake” is appropriate, too!

You will need

Serves 3

Pancake (Bánh Xèo) batter mix

  • 220g rice flour (extra-fine; Erawan brand recommended!)
  • 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • 325ml juice of fresh young coconut
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 bunch of spring onion (green part), diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Stir-fry filling

  • 100g dried mung beans
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely diced
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 1 bird's eye chilli, deseeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3 cubes of fermented chilli bean curd
  • 1 teaspoon of cornflour (dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water)
  • 250g fresh bean shoots

Dipping sauce

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or tamari if gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 birds eye chilli, deseeded and finely diced

Garnishes & serving bowl

  • 1 head purple oak leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch Vietnamese mint
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch purple perilla leaf

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30 mins to prep

  1. Step 1

    Put mung beans in a small pot of cold water, and boil on low heat for 30 minutes. Proportions should be 1/4 beans to 3/4 water, so plenty of water. When the beans start to split, they are ready. Remove from pot, drain and set aside.

  2. Step 2

    Mix all the pancake batter ingredients together in a large bowl. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

  3. Step 3

    Heat wok, add vegetable oil, add shallot. Let shallot brown, then add the garlic. Let garlic brown, then add the spinach. Once the spinach starts to wilt (about 1 minute in the pan), add salt, sugar and fermented bean curd. Then add the cooked mung beans and mix together, adding a splash of water to help disperse the heat through the beans. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, because once you add the cornflour your flavours will be ‘locked in’! Finally, add the dissolved cornflour, dispersing it through the mixture as evenly as possible. Cook through for 1 minute to thicken the mixture. Add the chilli and stir through. Set aside.

  4. Step 4

    For the dipping sauce, dissolve sugar in soy sauce and ACV. Then mix in diced garlic and chillies, and set aside.

  5. Step 5

    Now for the pancakes!* Pour a dash of oil into a deep, curved non-stick pan, and use a paper towel to spread it around so there is a very thin layer of oil, but no droplets visible. Heat the pan over medium heat.

  6. Step 6

    Pour 1 portion of pancake batter (approx. 150ml) into the hot pan. Immediately lift the pan and tilt it around clockwise to spread the mixture around the sides of the wok. Be STEADY, not too quick. Cover with a lid for 2 minutes — set a timer so you’re not tempted to open the lid and peek!

  7. Step 7

    Remove the lid, and use a teaspoon to gently drip oil onto the sides of the pan to slip down the edges of the pancake; gently swirl the pan around to make sure the pancake is sliding around easily. Add all your pancake fillings to one side: Add the mung bean & spinach stir-fry, then place a handful of fresh bean shoots on top. Do not put the lid back on as you want the pancake to dry now!

  8. Step 8

    Once the pancake has crisped up, fold the empty half of the pancake over the filling, let cook in the centre of the pan for a final minute, and then gently slide it out onto your plate!

  9. Step 9

    Serve alongside lettuce, herbs and dipping sauce and enjoy the sweet symphony of flavours you’re about to tuck into!

Hot tip!

*Pancake frying technique: Ideally you want to use a 28cm diameter non-stick pan, and heat on medium heat for a minute — the pan must be dry, fuming, and importantly sizzling hot! Make sure the stove’s flame is just hitting the base of the pan, not curving upward around the sides.

Recipe: Thanh Truong

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