Thuy runs our favourite Banh Xeo restaurant in Saigon. This restaurant was built in 1945 by her grandmother, who can be seen in the painting above, as a way to provide not only income but also as a way to feed her siblings who she had to take care of. Now, it’s almost unbelievable to see how this restaurant has transformed into a favourite local spot, serving around 100 Vietnamese pancakes per day. If you visit the restaurant, you’ll see Thuy taking over many responsibilities – from waitressing, being a cashier, and even cleaning up the tables.
Banh Xeo, also known as Vietnamese pancake, is an essential must-try in the world of Vietnamese cuisine. The dish actually varies depending on your location in Vietnam, which gives you an unarguable excuse to try it more than once. In Central Vietnam, Banh Xeo is a small pancake and typically an appetizer or snack. The further South you go, the larger Banh Xeo gets. This actually happened over time, as the idea of “the bigger the better” occurred in the foodie world of Vietnam. Banh Xeo isn’t a typical Northen Vietnamese dish, but you can find it at restaurants owned by people from further down South.
Banh Xeo got its name due to the sound it makes while cooking. The sizzling sound is bound to get your stomach growling, and this delicious meal might be your new favourite Vietnamese classic. The ‘pancake’ batter is made from rice flour, both wet and dry, turmeric, and spring onion. This batter is poured into a hot pan on top of bean sprouts and sauteed shrimp and pork. The next part takes a bit of skill – the pan must be swirled around so the batter can spread thinly onto almost every inch, sort of like a crepe in France. This is when the famous sizzle sound occurs. Once cooked, which only takes a minute or two, the pancake is folded in half. If it’s perfect, it’ll have a tent form to it.
So, how do you tackle this giant masterpiece? Grab your chopsticks and cut some sections into the pancake. Then wrap this up in lettuce and a big mustard leaf along with some fresh herbs. After you’ve wrapped up your Vietnamese Pancake, dip in it’s delicious sauce. Enjoy!