Bánh xèo (literally "sizzling
cake") are Vietnamese savoury pancakes made out of rice flour, water and
turmeric powder or coconut milk (in the Southern regions), stuffed with
slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts and then pan fried.
Left: A dish
partially showing its filling.
Traditionally, they are served wrapped in mustard
leaf, lettuce leaves, and stuffed with mint leaves, basil, fish leaf and/or
other herbs, and dipped in a prepared Vietnamese fish
sauce. In the Central region, the pancake is
dipped in a special 'tuong' sauce which consists of liver, hoisin sauce and
Southern style Bánh xèo are larger compared to the small pan-fried versions in
the Central regions. Called "banh khoai" or stuffed omelette, today it is one of
the best known dishes from the Central region. Made with rice flour and
flavoured with cumin, it is fried until deliciously crispy around the edges in
pans over charcoal burners. It is filled with little mounds of pounded pork,
egg, shrimps, a few bean sprouts and some mashed green beans, and then folded
To eat it, break a piece off with chopsticks,
wrap it in fresh
mustard greens with fresh herb leaves, slices of green banana and green fig, and
dip it in a sauce (called 'tuong') which consists of liver, hoisin sauce and
Left: A bánh xèo.
The fresh herbs, which include the spicy, red-tinged cumin leaf, help to reduce
any oiliness in the fried dish, as does the sourness of the banana and fig,
which are also digestive aids.
Firstly, rice flour is mixed with turmeric flour, coconut water, sugar, salt and
diced green onion. Secondly, enough cooking oil is added to a big skillet to
make a layer lower than that of the crepe mixture. After the oil has been heated
well, the crepe mixture is poured into the pan centripetally. The name bánh xèo
is derived from the loud sizzling sound – onomatopoetically called xèo xèo –
created when the batter hits the hot oil. While one hand is used for pouring the
mixture fast, the other hand is used to revolve the pan quickly. The next step
is putting bean sprouts, shrimp, and green beans into the mixture. The fire is
kept at a high heat while the mixture is cooking. As soon as the edge turns
yellow and crisp, the cake is ready to be served. The requirement is that the
edge is crispy while the central part of the cake is still soft.