French in style, but Vietnamese in
flavor, these delightfully crispy, tasty crepes, made with coconut milk
and filled with shrimps, mushrooms and beansprouts, are out of this world.
The crepe-makers from pretty teenage girls to toothless old women - are
like mythical sirens of the street. From the moment the batter hits the
hot pan, the "sizzling song" begins as they swirl and flip in such
hypnotic motion you are magnetically drawn in. These crepes (banh xeo) are
Saigon in the mouthful, and it comes as no surprise to learn they are
considered to be powerful aphrodisiacs. Along the same lines, but smaller
and less spicy, are the banh khoai (happy crepes) of north and central
Spring onions (scallions), trimmed and
To make the batter, beat the rice flour,
spices, sugar and salt with the coconut milk and 300 ml water, until
smooth and creamy. Stir in the spring onions and then leave to stand for
In a bowl, mix the pork with the nuoc mam,
garlic and seasoning and knead well.
Lightly saute the sliced mushrooms in 15
ml of the oil and set aside.
Heat 10 ml of the oil in a wide, heavy,
non-stick pan. Stir in a quarter of the onion and chili, then add a
quarter each of the pork mixture and the shrimps. Pour in 150 ml of the
batter, swirling the pan so that it spreads over the pork and shrimps
right to the edges.
Pile a quarter of the bean sprouts and
mushrooms on one side of the crepe, just in from the middle. Reduce the
heat and cover the pan for 2-3 minutes, or until the edges pull away
from the sides. Remove the lid and cook the crepe for another 2 minutes,
gently lift up an edge of the crepe with a spatula to see if it's brown
Once, it is nicely browned, scatter some
coriander over the empty side of the crepe and fold it over the bean
sprouts and mushrooms. Slide the crepe on to a plate and keep warm while
you make the remaining crepes in the same way.