The Development of Vietnamese Banh Xeo – Savory Pancakes

Banh xeo, also known as Vietnamese sizzling crepes or savory pancakes, is a popular dish that holds a special place in the hearts and palates of Vietnamese people. This delectable treat features a light and crispy pancake filled with various ingredients, such as pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and green onions. Let’s delve into the origins and development of banh xeo, and uncover the secrets behind its mouthwatering flavors.

The origins of banh xeo can be traced back to central Vietnam, where it was initially created as a royal dish during the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The name “banh xeo” itself refers to the sizzling sound the batter makes when poured onto the hot skillet. Over time, the dish spread to other regions of Vietnam and became a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.

The traditional banh xeo batter is made from rice flour, turmeric powder, and coconut milk, giving it a distinct yellow color and a subtle hint of coconut flavor. Once the batter is prepared, it is poured onto a hot skillet or griddle, creating a thin and crispy pancake. The filling ingredients are then added, and the pancake is folded in half to enclose the savory fillings. Banh xeo is typically served with fresh herbs, lettuce, and a flavorful dipping sauce, such as nuoc cham.

While the basic recipe for banh xeo remains consistent, regional variations have emerged across Vietnam, each showcasing unique flavors and ingredients. In southern Vietnam, banh xeo is often larger in size and contains a variety of fillings, such as pork belly, squid, mung beans, and shredded coconut. The pancakes are typically enjoyed with various herbs and lettuce, which are wrapped around the pancake before being dipped into the sauce.

In central Vietnam, particularly in the city of Hue, banh xeo takes on a different form. Known as banh khoai, the pancakes have a crispier texture and are smaller in size compared to their southern counterparts. The fillings commonly include shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. What sets Hue-style banh khoai apart is the addition of crispy pork fat, which adds an extra layer of richness and flavor.

In northern Vietnam, banh xeo is called banh khot and is often bite-sized, making them perfect for snacking. The pancakes are made using a special mold that gives them a rounded shape. The filling typically consists of shrimp and green onions and is topped with a sprinkle of dried shrimp floss. Banh khot is enjoyed with lettuce, herbs, and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Banh xeo has evolved over the years to adapt to different preferences and ingredients available in different regions of Vietnam. Despite the variations, this beloved dish remains a quintessential part of Vietnamese cuisine and a symbol of cultural heritage.

Whether you’re enjoying banh xeo in a bustling street market or in a sophisticated restaurant, this savory pancake captures the essence of Vietnamese flavors. The combination of the crispy pancake, flavorful fillings, and fresh herbs creates a harmony of textures and tastes that delights the senses.

So, next time you have the opportunity to savor banh xeo, take a moment to appreciate its rich history and the culinary craftsmanship that goes into making this timeless Vietnamese dish. Whether you prefer the southern, central, or northern version, banh xeo is sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.

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