The development of Vietnamese banh xeo – Savory pancakes

A plate of banh xeo

Banh xeo, the delicious Vietnamese savory pancake, is a quintessential street food that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people both in Vietnam and around the world. This delightful crispy pancake is filled with an assortment of ingredients such as pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and green onions. But have you ever wondered about the origins and development of this beloved dish? Join us as we delve into the history of banh xeo and trace its remarkable journey through time.

Banh xeo can trace its roots back to central Vietnam, specifically the region of Huế, which was once the imperial capital during the Nguyen Dynasty. The dish was originally created as a royal delicacy, served exclusively to the emperor and his court. It was prepared by skilled cooks who used a special blend of rice flour, turmeric powder, and coconut milk, giving the pancake its distinctive yellow color and fragrant aroma.

As with many traditional recipes, banh xeo has evolved over time, adapting to the tastes and preferences of different regions. In the south of Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, banh xeo is larger in size and contains a wider range of fillings, including sliced pork or beef, squid, and mung bean. The southern version is often served with fresh herbs such as basil and lettuce, and accompanied by a sweet and tangy dipping sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, and chili.

Moving to the central region of Vietnam, particularly the ancient town of Hoi An, banh xeo takes on a slightly different form. Here, the pancake is smaller and thinner, resembling a delicate crepe. The fillings consist of a generous amount of shrimp, crispy slices of pork belly, and a variety of local herbs. In Hoi An, banh xeo is usually wrapped in lettuce leaves and eaten with nuoc cham, a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, garlic, chili, and lime.

The northern region of Vietnam also has its own take on banh xeo. In Hanoi, the pancakes are smaller and thicker compared to their southern counterparts. They are typically filled with a mixture of ground pork, minced mushrooms, and jicama, a type of crunchy tuber. The dipping sauce commonly served with banh xeo in Hanoi is slightly sweet, infused with flavors of garlic and fermented soybean.

Banh xeo being cooked on a hot pan

Over time, banh xeo has become increasingly popular throughout Vietnam and has spread its wings internationally. Its versatility and adaptability have made it a favorite among food enthusiasts, who have put their own twists on the classic dish. In some modern versions, the traditional fillings may be substituted with unconventional ingredients like tofu, chicken, or even cheese. Despite these variations, the essence of banh xeo remains intact – a delectable crispy pancake filled with an explosion of flavors.

The popularity of banh xeo can be seen in numerous Vietnamese restaurants worldwide, where it is now a staple part of the menu. Many chefs and home cooks have also experimented with fusion flavors, combining banh xeo with elements from other cuisines. From banh xeo tacos to banh xeo pizza, the possibilities are endless, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of this beloved dish.

Whether you enjoy the traditional version or prefer a modern twist, banh xeo continues to be a cherished dish that represents the vibrant culinary heritage of Vietnam. Its evolution over time, adapting to various tastes and regional preferences, showcases the dynamic nature of Vietnamese cuisine. So the next time you savor a delectable banh xeo, take a moment to appreciate the rich history behind this beloved savory pancake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *