Friday, 27 June 2014

Vietnam on a plate

As the weather consistently fails to get even remotely summery I've been poring over a fellow blogger's photos from her recent trip to Vietnam and dreaming of a holiday. A long one. Somewhere far away. But I've got a while to go before my summer holiday so I have to make do with travelling on a plate instead. Luckily there has been progress in this part of the world too and you can pick up ingredients for all sorts of exotic dishes at your own supermarket!

In Vietnam these crunchy pancakes are known as banh xeo and make for a wonderfully summery street food treat. The pancake batter is gluten-free and you can get as creative as you like with the filling. Like, skip the prawns and go all veggie! Wrap them in a salad leaf, dip in the bright (sweet and sour and hot all at the same time) Nuoc Cham- sauce and enjoy! Or, as they say in Vietnam (according to Google Translate anyway...): tận hưởng!

Depending on the size of your frying pan this makes 4-6 pancakes

Hoi An- pancakes:

2,5 dl rice flour
a little less than 2 dl cold fizzy water
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt

Combine the dry ingredients, pour in water and mix quickly to a smooth batter. Let rest in room temperature for an hour.


250 g (king)prawns
1 small chilli
the juice of 1 lime
2 cloves of garlic
salt, black pepper

1 small carrot, peeled and grated
½ box bean sprouts
3 spring onion stalks, chopped

to serve: fresh herbs (coriander, mint and/or Thai basil), salad leaves

Thaw and peel the prawns. Cut them in half lengthwise and remove the vein if needed. Combine the ingredients for the marinade and let marinate for about half an hour. Drain, season with salt and pepper and quickly fry them. Peel and grate the carrots and squeeze out excess liquid. Chop the spring onions. 

Heat a couple of tbsp oil in a pan. Pour in 1/4 (16 if using a small frying pan) of the batter to an even layer (mix the batter between batches as it tends to separate!). Fry for about 5 minutes until the edges start getting crispy and curly. Then spoon 1/4 (or 1/6) of the filling and continue frying until the bottom is golden and crunchy. Fold the pancake in half and, if needed, drain on kitchen towel. Cut in slices and serve wrapped in a salad leaf with soe fresh herbs.

Nuoc Cham- dipping sauce:

1-2 small red chillies (depending on how fiery you like yours)
2 cloves of garlic
a couple of cm opiece of ginger, grated (generous t tsp)
3 tsp sugar
the juice of 2-3 limes (generous 3/4 dl )
generous ½ dl fish sauce

Combine the ingredients and check taste. Add more sugar or chilli as needed.




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