What is a Vietnamese Crepe?
Any idea what a Vietnamese crepe might be? Is anyone as clueless as I am? Do you know what a crepe is? I’ve noticed, the more I write, how dismissive my mind is. I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard the word or perhaps even seen the things without having a clue what they were, but I know it’s a lot.
I’m going to fix that for myself, and anyone else, right now! A crêpe is basically a wheat pancake. I had always just imagined they were a funky type of dessert I’d never understand. That being said, everyone can tweak anything. I don’t imagine the crepes we see pictured tasting the same as a breakfast pancake. That brings us back to our original question.
Vietnamese Crepe (Bánh Xèo)
Banh xeo is the correct name for this dish, but I won’t act like I can properly pronounce it. I can, however, happily tell you what it consists of! It won’t act, look, smell, or taste much like pancakes. It will look very similar to an omelet. It will not (typically) consist of eggs. I love this dish already, for not abiding by food “rules!”
Our Vietnamese crepe, otherwise known as banh xeo, will usually be served as a pork & shrimp “omelet” of rice flour and optional veggies. The most popular combinations seem to always include, more specifically, the following:
- Pork (such as belly, shoulder, or ground pork).
- Shrimp (shelled).
- Bean sprouts.
- Rice and/or wheat flour.
- Greens and mint/cilantro.
For the greens, as long as they’re big and leafy enough to wrap the banh xeo in, simplicity works. Lettuce, mustard greens, or leafy spinach would be appropriate. The mint and other herbs are meant to bring out the best flavor in the dish’s odd range of ingredients.
Now, obviously, you can’t just throw all those ingredients into a skillet at the same time and call it a Vietnamese crepe. You would soften the bean sprouts and marinate the meat and/or batter a bit ahead of time (or overnight). You’d cook the meats and veggies, then add the batter towards the end. The key is to let the pan be hot enough to crisp your crepe without burning it.
Would I Eat it for Breakfast or Dinner?
Your guess is as good as mine there! I did find that it seems to be most commonly enjoyed as a brunch item. Breakfast/lunch combined, you know? I’ll definitely have to give banh xeo a try when I crave shrimp and pork again. Despite having read through a great number of recipes for banh xeo, I can’t imagine what time of day I’d enjoy those ingredients combined! I certainly know my body wouldn’t crave it first thing in the morning (which I don’t often like to see). I have a hard time imagining eating any type of seafood for breakfast, and yet, so many do!
My only advice is to try it before you say you hate it! I’ll be adding it to my food bucket list…
Thanks for learning with us!