Vietnamese Crepe (Banh Xeo) is thin, crispy and served with fresh herbs and refreshing lime dipping fish sauce. This savory sizzling crepe will satisfy even picky eaters.
What is Vietnamese Crepe?
Vietnamese Crepe (Banh Xeo) is a bright yellow crispy crepe filled with shrimp, pork and vegetables. You can come across this tasty dish either as a snack or main meal in all three regions of Vietnam.
People in the North and the South call it “bánh xèo” which means “sizzling crepe”. The word “xeo” describes the sound the batter makes when it hits the hot pan. In the Central region, people call it “bánh khoái” which means people love to eat it and feel happy when eating it.
I learned how to make bánh xèo from watching my aunt cook it. The crepe only requires easy-to-find ingredients. Though the cooking method may sound tricky, I’m sure you can master it after one or two tries.
To make the batter, you need to combine flour with liquid. Vietnamese crepe is made from rice flour, and I like to add cornstarch to increase its crispiness. Both types of flour are gluten-free. You can easily find rice flour from Viet or Thai brands at Asian grocery stores.
You then need a small amount of turmeric powder to create the beautiful yellow color for the crepes. Don’t worry, you will not taste the turmeric at all since the amount is so small.
Turmeric powder is often used in Vietnamese cuisine to create beautiful colors and sometimes add an earthy flavor for the dish, such as in this Hanoi Turmeric Fish with Noodles (Cha Ca La Vong), Sticky Rice with Mung Bean (Xoi Xeo) and Vietnamese Chicken Rice (Com Ga Hoi An).
For the liquid, it’s common to use a combination of water and coconut milk. The coconut milk gives the crepe a light fragrance and subtle sweetness. It’s okay to use only plain water, and I recommend adding a pinch of sugar if you choose to do so.
Nowadays, you can find premade banh xeo mix at Asian grocery stores. My family sometimes uses them, and Vinh Thuan brand is a decent one.
For the filling, the traditional choices are onion, bean sprouts, shrimp, and pork. I often use pork shoulder, but you can also use pork tenderloin or pork belly if you want less or more fat.
How to Make Banh Xeo
You will need to cook the filling separately before cooking the crepe, but it can all be done with one pan. Detailed instructions with photos are on the recipe card below, so I just want to provide some tips here.
- Batter: to have a thin and crispy crepe, you don’t want the batter to be too thick. Its consistency is not thick at all. I would say it’s just slightly thicker than consistency of a beaten egg. Another thing to pay attention is that rice flour tends to settle at the bottom of the bowl. Therefore, give the batter a good stir before pouring it into the pan. You need just enough batter to cover the pan with a thin layer.
- Pan temperature: you know the heat is good if you hear the sizzling sound when pouring the batter into the pan. I usually use medium to medium high heat and adjust accordingly. I use a nonstick skillet to make everything from start to finish. Also, be generous with the amount of oil.
- Cooking time: be patient when cooking the crepe. It will feel soft during the first few minutes before it crisps up. Don’t expect it to be crispy within just 2-3 minutes of cooking. Give it time to get crispy.
- It’s convenient to use small or medium shrimps. If you use large shrimps like me, cut in half length-wise after you cook them.
- Folding the crepe: you will need to fold the crepes in half and then transfer to serving plates. I find that using two spatulas makes this step easy as cake.
This banh xeo recipe is enough to make three 12-inch crepes but you can make it as large or small as you want. When you are familiar with the cooking method, you can cook multiple crepes at the same time.
How to Eat It
Eating banh xeo is a fun experience. I recommend serving immediately after frying so that it is still crispy and hot. We often serve it with lettuce, fresh herbs (such as cilantro and mint), and dipping fish sauce (nuoc cham). Some people like to use rice paper wrappers to make fresh spring rolls with this crepe.
With or without rice paper wrappers, Vietnamese crepe is delicious and satisfying. This dish brings joys to your senses with its beautiful color and shape (sight), the crunch from crispy crepes (sound), delightful flavors from filling and dipping sauce (taste), and refreshing aromas from herbs (smell).
Other Classic Vietnamese Recipes
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here. I add new recipes every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.
Crispy Vietnamese Crepes (Banh Xeo)
For the batter
- 3/4 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (canned coconut milk)
- 1 cup water
- 2 scallion stalks (optional)
For the filling
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (or half of a large onion)
- 4 oz pork shoulder, thinly sliced (or pork tenderloin, pork belly)
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- 8 oz shrimps, peeled and deveined
- 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- black pepper
- cooking oil
For the lime fish dipping sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- green lettuce
Prepare the batter
- In a mixing bowl, add rice flour, cornstarch, salt and turmeric. Add coconut milk and water and whisk until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Set aside.
- Thinly slice the scallions and set aside. We will add it right before making the crepe.
Prepare the filling
- Prep all ingredients for the filling: thinly slice onion, thinly slice pork, thinly slice shallot, peel and devein shrimps.
- Place a pan over medium high heat. Add oil, and then add onion slices. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until onion loses its rawness while still crunchy. Transfer to a clean plate.
- In the same pan over medium high heat, add shallot and sauté until fragrant. Add pork in one single layer and let it cook undisturbed for 30 seconds. After that, add 1 teaspoon of fish sauce and black pepper and stir-fry until pork is fully cooked. Transfer to clean plate.
- In that same pan, make sure it’s at medium high heat. Add shrimps and sear both sides until they are fully cooked. Season with a pinch of salt. Transfer to clean plate. If your shrimps are large, cut in half length-wise.
Prepare the lime dipping fish sauce
- Whisk together lime juice, water, fish sauce and sugar. Taste and adjust to your liking and then add minced garlic. Set aside.
Make the crepe
- Add thinly sliced scallions to the batter and stir well.
- If using the same pan, wipe it clean. Place it over medium to medium high heat, add oil to coat the pan. If you use a 12-inch pan, pour 1/3 of the batter into the pan and quickly swirl the pan to cover the bottom. The batter should sizzle right after you pour it into the pan. If you use a small or larger pan, adjust the amount of batter: use just enough to coat the bottom with a thin layer.
- In the beginning, the crepe will look soft. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes. When you see that the bottom is about to crisp up (you can use a spatula to check the bottom), spread 1/2 cup of bean sprouts on one side of the crepe. Let it cook for 20-30 seconds.
- Continue to spread 1/3 of the onion, pork and shrimp on the same side where you just put the bean sprouts.
- Continue to cook the crepe for 2-3 more minutes until it is crispy. If you feel more oil is needed, drizzle some oil around the rim of the pan. Also pay attention to the heat, if you see that it develops colors too fast while it’s not quite crispy yet, lower the heat slightly.
- When the crepe is crispy to your liking, use a spatula to fold the half without filling over the other half. Then slide it out of the pan or use spatulas to transfer it to a serving plate.
- Continue with remaining batter and filling. Wipe the pan clean after you finish each crepe.
- Serve the crepes hot with lettuce and herbs on the side and dipping sauce.
- Rice flour tends to settle at the bottom of the bowl. Therefore, give the batter a good stir before you pour it into the pan.
- This recipe makes three 12-inch crepes. It is enough as a main dish for 2 people. As an appetizer, it is enough for 3-4 people to share.