Vietnamese cuisine is known for its diverse and vibrant flavors, and one dish that perfectly embodies this is Banh Xeo. Banh Xeo, which translates to “sizzling pancake,” is a classic Vietnamese dish that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Made with a rice flour batter and filled with an array of savory ingredients, Banh Xeo is a culinary delight that has evolved over centuries.
The roots of Banh Xeo can be traced back to the central region of Vietnam, where it was believed to have originated during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. The dish was initially created as a speciality of the imperial kitchen, enjoyed by the royal family and esteemed guests. Over time, Banh Xeo became a popular street food, loved by locals for its crispy texture and delightful flavors.
The traditional Banh Xeo is made by combining rice flour, water, turmeric powder, and coconut milk. The mixture is then left to ferment for a few hours, resulting in a light and airy batter. The batter is poured onto a hot skillet and topped with shrimp, pork belly, bean sprouts, and green onions. As the pancake cooks, it sizzles, giving it its distinctive name.
The evolution of Banh Xeo has also led to different regional variations. In the southern region of Vietnam, Banh Xeo is typically larger and filled with a wide range of ingredients such as shrimp, pork, and mung beans. The pancake is served with fresh herbs, lettuce leaves, and a dipping sauce made with fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
In the central region, Banh Xeo is smaller in size and often filled with a unique combination of diced pork, shrimp, and sliced onions. Sesame seeds are sometimes added for extra flavor and crunch. The pancakes are then wrapped in rice paper along with fresh herbs and dipped in a peanut sauce.
In the northern region, Banh Xeo is enjoyed in a slightly different form called “Banh Khot.” These bite-sized pancakes are made using a special cast-iron mold and are filled with shrimp, mung beans, and scallions. They are served with a tangy dipping sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, and garlic.
The popularity of Banh Xeo has spread beyond Vietnam’s borders, with Vietnamese communities around the world embracing this delicious dish. In recent years, there has also been a rise in modern interpretations of Banh Xeo. Chefs are experimenting with different fillings, such as mushrooms, tofu, and even cheese, to cater to vegetarian and international palates.
Today, Banh Xeo can be found in restaurants, street food stalls, and even upscale eateries both in Vietnam and abroad. Its versatility and delicious flavors make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Whether enjoyed as a light meal, a snack, or a filling dinner, Banh Xeo continues to captivate food lovers with its delightful combination of textures and tastes.