Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes / Pancakes) is an absolute must-try when you’re travelling Vietnam. Back when I was in Vietnam, my friend and I made Bánh Xèo so many times at weekends, and it was always a hit. After countless trials, it’s a recipe that you can rely on.
It’s wonderfully crispy, gluten-free and super easy to make with everyday ingredients – no a pre-mix Banh Xeo flour required.
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❤️ Bánh Xèo – Vietnamese Sizzling Pancakes / Crepes
In Vietnamese, “xèo” is the cheerful sizzling sound you’ll hear when the batter meets the hot pan, which is why it’s aptly named “sizzling pancakes.”
You might hear some people refer to Bánh Xèo as the Vietnamese egg omelette because these crepes are beautifully yellow and somewhat resemble omelettes – but there are actually no eggs in the recipe. It’s the turmeric powder that gives them this lovely golden color.
Besides, please don’t mix it up with Bánh Tráng Nướng (Vietnamese Rice Paper Pizza) either. They are also two different dishes.
🌟 Your Go-To Bánh Xèo Handbook in Vietnam
In Vietnam, you’ll come across some styles of Bánh Xèo:
- The central style (Bánh Xèo Miền Trung).
- The southern style (Bánh Xèo Miền Nam): it’s popular outside Vietnam.
- In Huế: people called it Bánh Khoái with some local adaptions.
- In the south: there is the miniature version of Bánh Xèo, which is Bánh Khọt. It’s made in a size similar to Dutch mini pancakes (Poffertjes).
BÁNH XÈO MIỀN TRUNG (CENTRAL STYLE BÁNH XÈO)
I have a special connection to the central Bánh Xèo since I was born and raised in Nha Trang, a coastal city in south-central Vietnam. My city is famous for Bánh Xèo.
In the central region, Bánh Xèo is cooked in a smaller size (6 inches/15 cm in diameter). There is just a small amount (or none at all) of turmeric powder in the batter, and absolutely no coconut milk. The crust of the central-style Bánh Xèo is thicker than its southern version.
The fillings for Central Bánh Xèo are often shrimp, pork, quail eggs, squid and mung bean sprouts.
The dipping sauces also vary. In the central region, we don’t serve Bánh Xèo with the popular Nước Chấm (dipping fish sauce) like in the South, but all in all, they are just as delicious. Some versions of Nước Chấm for Bánh Xèo in the central region:
- In Nha Trang: Bánh Xèo is served with a dipping sauce made from pineapple and tomato (MY FAVORITE).
- Moving slightly north to cities like Huế, Đà Nẵng, and Hội An: people serve Bánh Xèo with Nước Lèo. Nước Lèo is made from a blend of liver and peanuts with a rich and delightful flavor.
- In cities such as Quy Nhơn or Phan Thiết: Bánh Xèo is served with Peanut Fish Sauce.
- For those with a penchant for bold and funky flavors, they enjoy Bánh Xèo with Mắm Nêm (fermented anchovy sauce).
Where to eat Bánh Xèo in the central region:
- 134 Trần Qúy Cáp Street, Nha Trang.
- 85 Tô Hiến Thành Street, Nha Trang.
- Bánh Khoái Hồng Mai, 110 Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street, Huế City
- Bánh Khoái Lạc Thiện, 6 Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street, Huế City
Hội An & Đà Nẵng:
- Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng, 280/23 Hoàgg Diệu, Đà Nẵng
- Giếng Bá Lễ (Ba Le Well), 45/51 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hội An
BÁNH XÈO MIỀN NAM (SOUTHERN STYLE BÁNH XÈO)
This version of Bánh Xèo is more popular outside Vietnam. In Southern Vietnam, especially in the Mekong Delta area, Bánh Xèo is prepared in a large pan. It has a thin, crispy crust with a beautiful yellow color. Coconut milk in the batter helps enhance the richness of the crust.
The popular fillings for Bánh Xèo Miền Nam are shrimp, pork, mung bean sprouts, cooked mung beans and sometimes duck meats.
Where to eat:
- Bánh Xèo 335 Điện Biên Phủ Street, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh City
- Bánh Xèo Ngọc Sơn: 103 Ngô Quyền Street, Ward 11, District 5, Hồ Chí Minh City
- Bánh Xèo 7 Tới, 45 Hoàng Quốc Việt Street, Ninh Kiều District, Cần Thơ
My recipe for Bánh Xèo today is more in line with the Southern version (I may introduce the Central version later). For this simple yet delicious Bánh Xèo recipe, you will need:
FOR THE BATTER
Rice flour, potato starch (or corn starch), coconut cream, warm water, chicken powder (or mushroom powder if you’re making vegan Bánh Xèo), turmeric powder.
Rice flour is essential, while starch helps make your Bánh Xèo crispier.
I found many recipes that call for sparkling, cold water, or baking soda to make their Bánh Xèo crispy, but there is no need to make it more complicated. The cooking technique is much important.
FOR THE FILLINGS
Mung bean sprouts, shrimp, pork belly (or pork shoulder if you don’t eat fat) and shallots.
Bánh Xèo is served with nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping fish sauce), đồ chua (pickled carrots & daikon), lettuce (or mustard greens) and some popular Vietnamese herbs like mint, perilla leaves, and Thai basil.
PREPARE THE BATTER
Combine rice flour, potato starch, turmeric powder, and chicken powder with water. Mix well and let it rest for one hour. If you don’t use your batter on the same day, keep it in the refrigerator.
After one hour, add the coconut milk and mix well. Sieve the batter to remove any clumps.
PREPARE THE DIPPING SAUCE
Whisk fish sauce, sugar, water, vinegar (or lime juice together), and add minced garlic and minced chili.
PREPARE THE FILLINGS AND VEGETABLES
Wash and drain the mung bean sprouts, lettuce, and herbs.
Slice the pork. Peel and devein the shrimps. If you’re using large-sized shrimps, you can cut them into smaller pieces.
In a pan, add cooking oil and sauté the shallots until fragrant. Stir-fry the pork until it’s halfway cooked. Season with some salt and chicken powder. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until the fillings are fully cooked.
Set the fillings aside.
COOK BÁNH XÈO
In a nonstick pan or cash iron pan, add 1/2 tbsp cooking oil.
Pour in some batter and quickly tilt and rotate the pan to ensure the batter is evenly spread. Add more batter if it doesn’t cover the pan entirely. There should only be a thin layer of batter like making a crepe. If your batter doesn’t achieve this and is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to the batter and mix to thin it out.
Quickly add the shrimp, pork, and mung bean sprouts. Cover the lid for about 3 minutes and reduce the heat to medium-low.
The crepe is cooked when the edges crisp up. Remove the lid and continue to cook the crepe for an additional 2-3 minutes until it becomes crispy.
You could drizzle some oil around the edge of the pan. The more oil you use, the easier it will be for your Bánh Xèo to achieve crispiness. However, if you’d like it to be less greasy while still maintaining that delightful crispiness, just cook it for a bit longer over medium-low heat without the lid.
When the crepe reaches your desired level of crispiness, use a spatula to fold it in half, then slide it out of the pan or use spatulas to transfer it to a serving plate.
Continue with the remaining batter and filling, and don’t forget to wipe the pan clean after each crepe.
SERVE BÁNH XÈO
There are 2 ways to eat Bánh Xèo in Vietnam:
- Break the crepe into smaller pieces, put Bánh xèo as well as herbs and lettuce into your bowl of Nước Chấm. Use chopsticks to enjoy it. This is the central style way.
- Wrap Bánh Xèo and herbs in a big-sized leaf of mustard greens or lettuce. Or use a rice paper to wrap everything. Then dip this roll into a bowl of nước chấm and đồ chua. It’s the southern style way.
🌟 Helpful Tips
- Replace coconut milk with soy milk.
It is actually a secret tip from many Bánh Xèo street vendors in Vietnam. This is for people who can’t consume coconut cream or those who prefer a lighter option.
Moreover, coconut cream contains a lot of fat, so using too much coconut cream in the batter can affect the crispiness of your Bánh Xèo.
How to do: Keep the total liquid (combining coconut cream and water) constant, but use a 50-50 ratio of soy milk and water.
- Adjust the liquid amount
As I’ve mentioned before, your batter should result in thin and crispy crepes, and you can adjust the amount of water to achieve the desired consistency (or add more rice flour if the batter is too liquidy).
The ideal ratio of liquid to flour should be between 2.5 to 2.8 . For this recipe, I used 8.5 oz (240g) of a mixture of rice flour and potato starch with 21.3 oz (610ml) of liquid (a combination of water and coconut milk).
- Weight the ingredients
I don’t recommend using cups to measure the ingredients. The more precise your ingredient measurements, the greater your chances of success.
- Reduce the cooking time with the lid covered
This prevents condensed water from dripping back into the pan, which can make it more challenging to achieve the desired crispiness for the bánh xèo.
Once your crepe looks cooked, remove the lid and continue cooking it over medium-low heat until your bánh xèo turns crispy.
- Cook with two pans at the same time
Since it takes a while to crisp up the crepe, you can use two pans simultaneously to save time. Before scooping the batter, don’t forget to stir it to ensure it’s well combined.
- Use your crepe make or waffle maker
These are also great kitchen appliances for making bánh xèo. I also have a recipe for bánh xèo waffle.
🌟 Variations & Substitutes
- You can add some chopped scallions to the batter.
- If you don’t eat pork, feel free to substitute it with chicken or beef.
- You can make vegan bánh xèo with vegan fillings like mushroom, tofu, and enjoy with vegan dipping fish sauce.
- For leftover batter, you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for two days. If you don’t use coconut cream in the batter, it can be kept fresh for one week.
- Before using it, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour and stir well to ensure it’s well combined.
- For leftover Bánh Xèo, store them in the fridge for up to 3 days. Before eating, warm them up in an air fryer or oven to retain their crispiness.
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Authentic Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes / Pancakes)
Banh Xeo batter:
- 1/8 cup rice flour (200g / 7oz)
- ⅓ cup potato starch / corn starch (40g / 1.4oz)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp chicken powder
- 5.5 oz coconut cream (165ml or one small can)
- 1⅞ cup water (445ml)
Banh Xeo fillings
- 0.5 lb pork belly (or pork shoulder) (230g)
- 0.5 lb shrimps (230g)
- 1.1 lb mung bean sprouts (500g)
- 1 shallot (sliced)
- Cooking oil
- Chicken powder (to your taste)
- Salt (to your taste)
Dipping fish sauce
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp water
- 1 tsp lime juice or 5% vinegar (to your taste)
- Minced garlic (to your taste)
- Minced chili (to your taste)
- Đồ Chua (Pickled carrots & daikon) (optional)
Veggies & herbs
- Lettuce or Mustard greens
- Mint, perilla leaves, Thai basil
Prepare the batter
- Mix rice flour, potato starch, turmeric powder, and chicken powder with water. Ensure it's well combined, and then let it rest for an hour.
- After the hour, incorporate the coconut cream and mix thoroughly. Finally, strain the batter to remove any clumps.
Prepare the dipping fish sauce
- Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, water, vinegar (or lime juice), and then add minced garlic and minced chili.
- You can use this dipping fish sauce recipe to prepare a larger batch, which can be stored for up to two months.
Prepare the fillings and vegetables
- Rinse and drain the mung bean sprouts, lettuce, and herbs.
- Slice the pork. Peel and devein the shrimps. If using large-sized shrimps, you can cut them into smaller pieces.
- In a pan, heat cooking oil and sauté the shallots until they become fragrant. Stir-fry the pork until it's partially cooked. Season with a bit of salt and chicken powder. Then, add the shrimp and continue to stir-fry until the fillings are thoroughly cooked.
Cook Banh Xeo Crepes
- In a nonstick or cast-iron pan, pour 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil.
- Pour in a portion of the batter and quickly tilt and rotate the pan to ensure an even spread. Add more batter if needed to cover the pan, resulting in a thin, crepe-like layer. If the batter is too thick, you can thin it by mixing in a few tablespoons of water.
- Swiftly add the shrimp, pork, and mung bean sprouts. Cover with a lid for about 3 minutes and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- The crepe is ready when the edges become crisp. Remove the lid and continue cooking the crepe for an additional 2-3 minutes until it achieves the desired crispiness.
- You can drizzle some oil around the edge of the pan. The more oil you use, the easier it is to achieve a crispy Bánh Xèo. However, if you prefer it less greasy while maintaining its delightful crispiness, cook it a bit longer over medium-low heat without the lid.
- Once the crepe reaches your desired level of crispiness, use a spatula to fold it in half, then slide it out of the pan or transfer it to a serving plate using spatulas.
- Repeat the process with the remaining batter and filling, and remember to wipe the pan clean after each crepe.
Enjoy Banh Xeo
- The Central style: Break the crepe into smaller pieces and place Bánh Xèo along with herbs and lettuce into your bowl of Nước Chấm. Use chopsticks to enjoy the dish.