As much as I enjoy sweet crepes, I prefer savory dishes, such as the Vietnamese bánh xèo. You might have heard them called Vietnamese sizzling crepes or sizzling pancakes. Xèo is actually a Vietnamese onomatopoeia for a sizzling sound. That’s the sound the crepes make when they’re cooking.
I made an Instagram video so you can hear and see a bánh xèo cooking. You’ll also hear how to pronounce the name in Vietnamese:
My mother didn’t make bánh xèo for us very often because she claimed not to be able to get the crepes crispy enough. We had to wait until my aunt made them at family gatherings. It was such a treat to eat the crispy crepes stuffed with thinly sliced pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and herbs. I didn’t hesitate to spoon nước chấm over them and promptly stuff my face.
I’ve attempted to make bánh xèo several times but utterly failed each time, until last week. I’ve simplified the Vietnamese sizzling crepes recipe quite a bit because it’s time consuming to make the crepes. They’re best eaten straight away while they are hot and crispy.
My family usually buys a bánh xèo mix like the one pictured above, but making them from scratch is easy if you can find rice flour. Make sure it’s no the gluten-free flour you find at Trader Joe’s because that has potato starch and tapioca powder. I have no idea how those ingredients will affect the texture of the crepes. Make sure you use unsweetened coconut milk and not coconut water. You want the creaminess of the coconut milk. Shake the can really well before you open it. Bonus: This recipe is uses rice flour and coconut milk so it’s gluten free and dairy free.
My first tip is cook the filling separately, before you make the crepe. Traditionally, the filling is cooked in the pan, then the crepe batter is poured over it. The sprouts are added at the end before the crepe is folded over. By cooking the filling ahead of time, I don’t have to worry about trying to get the bánh xèo crispy without burning the pork and shrimp.
The key to a crispy crepe was my new crepe pan from IKEA and patience. (No IKEA near you? Amazon has a list of crepe pan bestsellers.) If you don’t have a crepe pan or don’t want an excuse to buy one (like moi), you can use a nonstick skillet to make them.
For simplicity, I only put shrimp in my bánh xèo this time but you can definitely add your own protein: thinly sliced chicken, pressed tofu, mushrooms, etc. Next time I want to add some oyster or enoki mushrooms to the dish. I love mushrooms! Serve with fresh Vietnamese herbs, nước chấm, and Sriracha on the side.
Now that I’ve found some tricks to make bánh xèo on my own, I’m adding the sizzling crepes to my Vietnamese food repertoire. I hope you’ll try them and love them as much as I do!
Want to learn more Vietnamese recipes? Craftsy offers Vietnamese Classics: Pho, Noodles & Beyond, an online calss taught by Andrea Nguyen. While you’re there, take one of their free mini-classes (affiliate links).
- 1 c. of coconut milk (not juice or water)
- 1½ c. of rice flour
- 2 c. water
- ⅛ tsp of ground tumeric
- 1 Tbs of vegetable oil
- 1 pound of raw medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
- ½ pound of bean sprouts, root ends trimmed
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ c. of chopped cilantro
- In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, rice flour, water, and oil until well mixed. Let rest for 30 minutes
- Add oil to a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once pan is hot, add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp, turning to cook both sides. Once shrimp are cooked, toss in bean sprouts. Turn off heat and continue tossing until the sprouts wilt. Set aside.
- To make bánh xèo: Heat an 10-inch non-stick skillet or crepe pan over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray or wipe with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
- Whisk the batter one more time to mix in any flour that has settled to the bottom.
- Add ¼ cup of batter to the middle of the skillet. Quickly tilt and swirl batter around until the bottom of the pan is coated with a thin layer. Don't worry about any small holes near the edges.
- Cook crepe until edges start to curl. Loosen the edges and allow to cook until batter has no wet spots.
- Add the shrimp and sprout mixture onto half of the crepe. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro.
- Slide crepe onto plate and flip it so it folds over the filling, like an omelet.
- Serve with nouc cham (sweet, salty, tangy dipping sauce)