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Traditional Vietnamese Crepes by James Nguyen
April 14, 2009, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Vietnamese Food | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Vietnamese Crepes

Vietnamese Crepes

Vietnamese Crepes

When I ask friends whether have they tried Vietnamese food, 9 times out of 10 they will respond emphatically, “Yes! I love those noodles…what do you call them, Pho noodes!?”  With a smirk, I’m glad to hear that “Pho” has made the english vernacular.  While this is a minor triumph in of itself, this review is not about Pho which we will dissect for another time…instead this is about a not-so common dish and is one of my all time favorites, the Vietnamese Crepe or locally termed “Banh Xeo” (Banh-Si-el)

Ingredients:

Battered egg lightly cooked till lightly crisped

Choice of meat–cooked shrimp, or chicken

bean sprouts–lots of them

green onions

and Vietnamese fish sauce for dipping

How to serve:

Put all your ingredients into your crepe batter and cook and flip evenly.  If you brown it too heavily, the crepe will have a crunchy overcooked taste to it.  Cook it too lightly, and the crepe is too soft and mushy–what you don’t want and not a measure of how the locals eat it.  Cook and taste continually is the best method until you have reached the right medium whereby you can enjoy the cooked ingredients without a burnt flavor of the crepe.   Best served steaming hot, its a straightfoward dish that is never served alone but alongside a heaping dish of lettuce greens and most importantly, mint leaves.  In fact, if you ever get shortchanged on the amount of lettuce greens, you should take offense as the restaurant is betting on the fact that you DON’T know what you are supposed to do with these greens.   Best eaten as a finger food and not with utensils.  Tear of pieces of the lettuce, add mint leaves for “kick”, add a small biteable portion of your crepe onto the lettuce leave, and then roll into a suitable roll and dip into fish sauce and eat.

Verdict: (4.5 of 5 stars)

OK, so I’m biased here.  This dish makes an excellent lunch or dinner alternative to rice and noodles.  Usually several rounds of crepes are necessary to satisfy a family of 4, and a large helping of greens, shrimp, chicken, sprouts, and mint should be ready on hand.  Taste is light–which is the point and the mints do a good job of kicking in extra flavor and neutralizing the fish sauce at the same time.   

Where to get it:

This dish can be ordered at most Vietnamese restaurants. If its not on the menu, you can ask for it and pray that the cook is willing to cook it for you as an off-menu item.   Cost should be reasonable and anything over $12 for this item is too much.

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