bánh xèo

Dear Dad and Mom,

I’ve been on a Vietnamese food craving lately. It’s one of the things I miss from before the pandemic, how we would celebrate family milestones at Vietnamese restaurants or simply go for a casual lunch.

I watched a few episodes from The Chefs’ Line, maybe last year, where they competed to make Vietnamese rice paper rolls, pho, crème caramel, and bánh xèo. Since then, I was intrigued to try it at home. First ordering the bánh xèo at Pho Metro first to see how it should turn out.

Crêpe Batter
Recipe from Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen
(Makes 5-6 crêpes)

4¼ ounces white rice flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
¼+⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ cup boiled water
¾ cup room temperature water
⅓ cup unsweetened coconut milk

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cornstarch, salt, and ground turmeric.
  2. Whisk in the boiled water and whisk until all the dry ingredients dissolve and there’s no lumps. Add in the room-temperature water.
  3. Whisk in the coconut milk and then let the batter rest for 30 to 45 minutes. When ready to use, give it another good stir as the ingredients will have settled to the bottom.

Crêpe fillings

Ground pork or ground beef
Small shrimp, peeled and deveined
Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
Small yellow onion
Bean sprouts
Salt and pepper
Neutral oil to cook

  1. The filling is kind of up to you! I usually do a combination of ground pork, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, and bean sprouts. I’ve also tried ground beef, mushrooms, onions, and bean sprouts.
  2. It’s a good idea to portion them out. For instance, if you’re making 4, have the piles ready to go as things can move quickly as you cook.
  3. Season your portioned piles with salt and pepper.

To Make the Crêpe

  1. Use a medium-sized nonstick (makes it so much easier if it’s nonstick) pan and heat to medium-high.
  2. Add the neutral oil (grapeseed or canola), about 2 to 3 teaspoons and add your ground meat. Cook until it’s about half-way there, add in the shrimp, mushrooms, and onions and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the shrimp has curled.
  3. In the pan, divide the filling into two halves. Make sure there’s a gap in between, it should look like there are two half circles on your pan. This will help you fold the crêpe in half later!
  4. Ladle in the batter and roll it around the pan. Add more to fill in any gaps or holes. Toss the bean sprouts on top. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pan with a lid.
  5. Let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Then uncover the pan and let it fry and crisp for another 2 to 3 minutes. You can drizzle some oil along the circumference of the crêpe to help it crisp.
  6. When you look under the crêpe, if it’s golden brown, it’s ready! Use a spatula to fold the crêpe in half. Then gently lift it out to plate. Or, transfer to a rack and put it in the oven with the “keep warm” setting as you finish cooking the rest of the crêpes.

I was taught to always cook the bean sprouts. Even at restaurants, we kindly ask the servers to have the cooks boil or do a quick steam before we add it to our pho or dishes.

I love the tiny holes in the batter, makes it looks so lacey. And it’s so crispy. Don’t worry if your batter doesn’t look bright yellow. After the resting period and cooking, the color comes out! It’s kind of amazing that there’s no egg in this, even though it looks like an omelet from far.


Boston lettuce
Rice paper
Nước chấm dipping sauce

  1. There are different ways you can eat your sizzling crêpe. First, you can tear pieces of the crêpe and wrap it in lettuce along with fresh herbs like mint, basil, or cilantro. Then dip in sauce before stuffing it all in your mouth.
  2. Or, our favorite way, take out some Vietnamese rice paper. Dip it in hot water and lay it out on a cutting board or plate. Put in the lettuce, herbs, and a piece of the crêpe. Fold in the edges and roll it up. Dip in the sauce before taking a bite.

Nước chấm Dipping Sauce
Recipe from Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen
(Makes about 1 cup)

3 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
½ Thai chile, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced

  1. In a small bowl, mix and combine everything.
  2. This is tricky as you have to do it by taste. There are times where I needed another tablespoon of maple syrup, lime juice, or fish sauce. Sometimes, I don’t. Or I need 2 tablespoons added in for one of the ingredients. I think it’s because the lime can be unpredictable sometimes – you never know if you’re getting tart or sweet limes when you squeeze them!

This is such a yummy meal. Howard and I have had this four times this past summer, mostly thanks to the herbs you grow in your backyard. I don’t think it’ll be as fresh with supermarket ones over the winter!


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