Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Banh xeo or Vietnamese Crepes

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi continues to please!


I decided this would be a good recipe based on the three daikon radishes that had been sitting in my crisper drawer for 6 months.  I figured it was time they were used, especially since we are due to get fresh daikon in box soon.

Let me start by telling you, I am not a crepe maker.  I've attempted it twice now, and well, both times things haven't gone well.  This time resembled the first time.  My crepes were too thick and sticking to the pan--they ended up as scrambled crepes instead of the real deal.  Thankfully, this time I had someone to bail me out.

As I stood, baffled, over the crepe pan, Curtis walked into the house in his biking clothes.  He had biked home from work and came over to see what I was doing.  "Your batter is too thick," he informed and then moved me out of the way and took over.  Whew.  In no time, he had the batter at the right consistency, heated up a second pan, and cranked up the heat on the first pan.  Before long, he was flipping crepes off the crepe pan (into the air--all fancy like) and pulling beautiful crepes off both the crepe pan and cast iron skillet.

That's one of the great things about being married.  Sometimes, when one of us is floundering, the other one call bail us out.

We learned a few things here:

•The pan temperature needs to be very hot.  The cast iron skillet works better than the crepe pan because it holds the heat better.

•The batter needs to be very thin.

•A single batch is probably plenty, but a double batch worked perfectly because there was a lot of room for trial and error.

•The electric griddle we use for making pancakes would probably work beautifully for this recipe.

Once we got the crepes off the pan in crepe shape, we served them straight the kids.  I was nervous we the filling wouldn't satisfy the kids or the taste of the crepes would throw them off.  Nope!  They loved the crepes.  J ate three and the other two each ate two.  The crepes tasted wonderful and the sauce was fabulous (the boys even ate the sauce.  M boycotts sauces on principal, unless we're talking maple syrup).

This recipes calls for enoki mushrooms.  I tried two stores (HEB and Whole Foods) and couldn't find them.  I finally found a cute bundle of them at our closest Asian grocery store.  I'd like to use them, but need to have the energy and time to go to multiple stores to source them.  If you want to add a meat, you can cooks some shrimp or prawns to add to the fillings.  HEB had the rice flour--which makes the recipe vegetarian (if you substitute sweet soy sauce for the fish sauce) and gluten free.

Serves 4 -5.

Bahn xeo or Vietnamese Crepes with Fresh Vegetables and Herbs
adapted a hair from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Crepes
1 1/3 c rice flour
1 egg
1/2 t salt
1 t ground turmeric
1 3/4 c (1-13.66 oz can) unsweetened coconut milk
a bit of sunflower oil

Sauce
2 1/2 T lime juice
1 1/2 T sesame oil
1 T brown sugar
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T (or more, to taste) fish sauce (nuoc mam) or sweet soy sauce
2 t grated fresh ginger
1/2 t salt
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 fresh red chile, finely chopped (optional)

Filling
1- 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly shredded
1 daikon radish, peeled and thinly shredded
4 green onions, sliced on an angle
1 fresh green chile, cut into long thin strips
1 1/2 c snow peas (or more--we love these), cut into long thin strips
1/2 - 1 c cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/3-2/3 c basil leaves (preferably Thai basil), roughly chopped
1/4 c mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 c mung bean sprouts
1 c enoki mushrooms

Blend the rice flour, egg, salt, and turmeric in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk in the coconut milk, whisking well to avoid a lumpy batter.  Add more coconut milk or water (put water in the coconut milk can to get all the coconut milk out) until the batter is the consistency of light cream.  Set aside to rest.

Prepare the filling ingredients if you haven't already done so.  Put each filling in it's own bowl so people can choose what they want.

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and adjust the flavor adding more red chile if using or fish sauce (if using).  Set aside.

To cook the crepes, add more coconut milk or water to the batter if it has thickened while resting.  Heat up a large nonstick frying pan (or a cast iron skillet or an electric griddle--the electric griddle doesn't let you swirl the crepe batter around though, which is kinda fun).  The pan should be pretty hot.  Add a little sunflower oil.  Put some batter in the pan, if not using an electric griddle, swirl it around to cover the surface.  Once the bottom is golden brown, carefully turn the crepe over.  If the crepe isn't cooked enough or the pan isn't hot enough, the crepe will probably stick and you'll end up with scrambled crepes.  Remove from pan and repeat with remaining batter.

Place a crepe on each plate and top desired fillings in the middle of it (like a taco!).  Drizzle some sauce over top and fold or roll up.  If desired, drizzle some extra sauce over top.






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