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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bánh Xèo—Vietnamese Crepes—for One

I had this in a restaurant and it was so good, I scurried home to figure out how to make it myself. OMG. It’s SOOOO worth the wait for the batter. You could put the batter together at breakfast time and then cook up the meal for lunch or dinner, and you’ll hardly even notice the wait. Or maybe leave it overnight. You DO want to wait though. The flavors intensify with time.

For the Crepe:
¼ cup rice flour
2 TBLSP all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon turmeric (more, if you like a stronger color)
½ cup water
¼ cup coconut milk (other non-dairy milks work too)
Pinch salt
Vegetable oil (for cooking)
For the Filling:
½ cup of any combination of the following:
Cooked broccoli
Scallion, chopped small
Carrots, julienned
Mushroom, lightly sautéed
Mung bean sprouts
Spinach, chopped
Cucumber, diced small
Avocado, sliced
Radish, sliced and diced
Baked tofu, cut into small cubes
For the Crunchies:
Lettuce/spinach leaves
Mint leaves
Cucumber disks
For the Sauce:
2 TBLSP rice vinegar
1 TBLSP water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 TBLSP finely julienned carrot
1 TBLSP finely julienned jicama (optional)

Prepare the Crepe Batter
  1. Combine rice and all-purpose flours, turmeric, water, milk, and salt in a small bowl, and let them sit for at least 3 hours. It should be more like orange juice than pancake batter. The turmeric will get increasingly brighter in time, so go easy on this.

Prepare the Filling:
  1. Cook, sauté, or dice the filling ingredients of your choice. I like to leave them fairly separate when I toss them on my crepe, but you could pile them into a bowl and mix them, too.

Make the Sauce:
  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. You might want to stir the sugar into the vinegar a bit before adding the carrot and jicama. If this sits for a little while, the vinegar pulls some of the color from the carrots, and you get a pale orange sauce.

Cooking the Crepes:
  1. In a large (12-inches or larger) non-stick frying pan, slosh in a little cooking oil (not much—the crepe will float if it’s too much), wipe most of it up with a paper towel, and heat over medium heat.
  2. Pour in about half of the batter, and quickly rotate and tilt the pan so that the batter spreads evenly over the bottom (not the sides) of the frying pan. Add more batter if you need to get complete coverage. You want it super thin. If the pan is too hot, it will create bubble holes almost immediately.
  3. Add some of the filling items, spread evenly and thinly over the crepe. Cover the pan with a lid for 2-3 minutes. The batter should be transparent around the edges when this time is up. If the crepe is too thick, it will still cook just fine. You can tell if it’s cooked after the next step, if you can pick it up with a wide spatula.
  4. Remove the lid and lower the heat. When the crepe is crisp (another minute or two), fold it in half and slide it onto your serving plate.
  5. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling.

Serve with the crunchies. You can tuck them inside or spread them on top, or maybe tuck them inside individual bites and either dip the bites into the sauce or slosh the sauce over the pile of crepe and veggies.

This may be enough for two. I don’t know. I didn’t have any trouble eating both crepes, but they were delicious and there was no one to prevent me from gluttony. You won't tell, will you? 

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