One of the things I recommend to everyone who is considering a trip to Vietnam is the food tour in Hanoi. It was easily one of the best activities I’ve done in my life.
My trip to the country started out with a terrifying scene – a woman gutting a fish in a literal street gutter. My travel partner and I made a pact to not think too hard about anything we ate on this trip. If we pretended food poisoning didn’t exist we’d be free and clear.
And we didn’t get it. In fact I’ve never felt so healthy as when I spent a week in Vietnam.
That morning we we started our food tour. We sat on tiny little stools and spooned fresh herbs, things wrapped in rice paper and mystery meat into our faces. If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you, well you’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
I remember the Savory Vietnamese Crêpes (Bánh Xèo) like it was yesterday. So crispy and decadent but wrapped in fresh greens and herbs that feels like you’re eating a fun version of a salad.
I know these crepes look like they are made of egg – but there is NO EGG in this recipe (pssst it’s turmeric). In fact, there is no dairy or gluten and you could easily make it vegan if needed.
Typically Banh Xeo are made with pork, shrimp and mung bean. I swapped the pork for tofu in mine this time (use what you’ve got).
The batter is forgiving and easy to work with. The most annoying part of this dish is prepping all your accoutrements, and really, it’s just taking it out of the bag so let’s get over it.
I’m also including a recipe for a flavored fish sauce – a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.
A little worried these wouldn’t taste as I remember, but these delivered. This is a great dish to cook up if you’re having friends over or want to play with your food.
This recipe makes 3 crepes which is technically enough for 6 people as a starter and 3 as a meal. This is another A+ recipe I pulled from Vietnamese Home Cooking.
Savory Vietnamese Crêpes (Bánh Xèo) and Flavored Fish Sauce
(Start making 30 minutes before you want Savory Vietnamese Crêpes)
Start by making the crepe batter. Whisk together all ingredients, excluding the onions until well combined. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then mix in your scallions. Note: this can be saved in the fridge for up to 12 hours).
While this is resting, start prepping your veggies. Slice your small yellow onion, slice your pork or tofu, slice your shrimp if needed, prep your serving veggies.
When you’re ready to make crepes, get a well seasoned wok or non stick pan (9 or 10 inches) over medium high heat. Heat up 1 Tbsp of your oil and when it’s shimmering (not smoking) add your 1/3 pork or tofu and 1/3 onions to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes.
Then, add 1/2 cup of batter to the pan (with the pork/tofu and onions still in it). Lift the pan and swirl it so the crepe batter gets halfway up the sides of the pan. After about a minute the batter will start to look dry. Add your shrimp and mung beans to half the crepe, reduce heat to medium and cover for 2 minutes (they are cooking under there!).
At this point, the edges of your crepe will start to pull away from the pan. Turn your heat back up to medium high. Carefully lift away an edge of the crepe and pour a tsp of oil under the crepe. Do this 2-3 times around the edge of the crepe so you get oil UNDER the crepe but not over it.
Cook for another 5 minutes until the bottom is browned and crispy. Fold the crepe in half and carefully move it to a cookie sheet and lightly cover with foil to keep it warm. Do this 2 more times for a total of 3 more crepes.
Slice the crepes in 6-8 pieces and wrap them in the lettuce and herbs, creating a little salad taco with crepe inside. Dip in the Flavored Fish Sauce and go to town.