Vietnamese crispy pancake (banh xeo)


Vietnamese crispy pancake (banh xeo)
The lazy way to make this dish is to buy a ready-made Vietnamese pancake mix from your local Asian grocers. But if you have the time, its just as easy to mix an organic batter from scratch (and avoid the additives). Makes 4 medium sized (entree-sized) pancakes.
  • Dipping sauce ingredients:
  • 2.5 tblsp of vegan fish sauce (or tamari)
  • 2 tblsp of lime juice
  • 0.5 tsp of brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced red chili
  • 1 glove chopped garlic
  • 2 tblsp rice malt

  • Pancake ingredients:
  • 3 tblsp rice flour
  • 2.5 heaped tblsp tapioca flour
  • 1.5 tblsp wholemeal wheat flour
  • 2.5 tblsp corn flour
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2.5 tsp tumeric
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tblsp of cold-pressed sunflower or safflower oil
  • 1 carrot, sliced julienne
  • 3 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 200 grams beansprouts
  • Finger sized strips of lemongrass tofu, 150 grams per person (optional - fried tofu, or flying tofu-less also work)
  • One bunch each of mint, basil and coriander leaves
  1. Put all the sauce ingredients into a jar, stir with a fork until the rice malt starts to dissolve, then put on the lid and shake to combine. Set aside.
  2. To make your batter: whisk all the flours together, plus the sea salt and tumeric (whisking being the cheat's way to sift), then stir in the coconut milk and shallots using a fork.
  3. Heat non-stick frying pan or wok at medium heat and coat well with one tablespoon of oil.
  4. Add ¼ cup of the batter to the centre of the pan, and quickly lift and turn the sides of your pan to make a spiral of batter around the centre. Add another ¼ of a cup to fill in any holes and go around the outside of your pancake. Quickly, while the batter is still wet, place some carrot and mushroom pieces on the pancake (around 6 carrot and 4 mushroom pieces).Use a spatula to lift the edges of the pancake while it is cooking, and check its not sticking to the pan; add more oil if needed. When the pancake batter is completely cooked through, lay 3-4 tofu pieces and a small handful of beansprouts over one half of the pancake. Put your spatula under the other half and flip on top of the beansprouts and tofu. Every second pancake, you'll need to another tablespoon of oil to avoid them sticking to the pan.
  5. Slide the pancake onto a plate to serve, with generous portions of mint, basil and coriander leaves on the side, plus the dipping sauce.


Lemongrass tofu


Lemongrass tofu
Time-consuming, but very worthwhile.
  • 6 stalks of lemongrass, minced
  • 10 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 11 shallots, chopped on the diagonal into inch long pieces
  • ½ - ¾ tblsp of seasalt
  • Dash of tamari
  • ¼ red chili, chopped finely
  • ½ tblsp tumeric
  • Safflower or sunflower cold-pressed oil
  • 500 grams of firm tofu (firm as you can get), cut into finger-sized pieces
  • 1½ cups of corn flour
  1. Mince the lemongrass, using a blender and adding a few tblsps of water if needed. Combine the lemongrass with all remaining ingredients except the tofu and corn flour. The lemongrass mixture will taste slightly too salty - but this is okay, since the mixture will be diluted when later mixed with the tofu.
  2. Heat enough oil to coat your frying pan, and then lightly fry the lemongrass mixture, adding a little water if needed to get the mixture evenly cooking. Minimise any water added, since the aim is to create a 'dry sauce', rather than a sauce that can flow.
  3. Soften the mixture, then take off the heat, cover and set aside.
  4. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a second frying pan and set up your tofu production line: one plate with the corn flour and another plate with the tofu next to the stove. Dip a piece of the tofu into the corn flour, coating it on all sides, then shake of any excess flour and slip into the oil. Repeat with the other pieces of tofu until the pan is full, and avoid the tofu pieces touching each other (they'll stick). Fry on both sides until just golden, and then put onto kitchen towels to drain (don't cover or overlap the tofu pieces, since they will go soggy) . You might need to clean the pan between batches, since any excess corn flour left behind in the pan can smoke.
  5. Put the first frying pan (with the lemongrass mixture) back onto heat and warm up. Add the tofu and lightly stir for 1-2 minutes until just combined, then serve. Lemongrass tofu is great served with rice and morning glory with garlic - or put into a banh xeo (see below) or wrap.