Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hue Shrimp and Vegetable Pancakes

I was extremely elated over the weekend when I received an email from Astrid of Paulchens FoodBlog advising that I was one of the winners of DMBLGIT October 2009 in the "Edibility" category. I never for the life of me expected this at all especially when there were so many other beautifully styled photographs. Anyway I would like to congratulate the rest of the other winners on their well-deserved win! Okey ... now back to my post proper.

We discovered this amazingly simple but absolutely delicious dish during our trip to Hanoi in September. This particular shop, extremely narrow and tucked between a bakery and a bicycle repair shop, serves only Hue pancakes and nothing else! I discovered later that Hue pancakes originate from a province in central Vietnam called Hue (it would seem like a national dish to me if it's named after a place) and is considered the fulcrum of Vietnam's rice planting region - the Red River Delta and the Mekong Delta. Hue food tends to be spicier than most regions in Vietnam and you'll also get lots of seafood since this area is located near the sea.

The pancakes are made from rice flour with egg. A small amount of batter is then spread over a shallow pan to produce a very thin crepe. This is then cooked over a high heat until the bottom of the crepe is crispy and golden brown. Toppings are then spread over the top during the cooking process. To eat the pancakes, you would take a thin dry rice paper, put some herbs such as mint and basil, on the rice paper and then top it with a small piece of the pancake. You then roll the whole thing up like a spring roll. The roll is then dipped into a vinegratte sauce. I was extremely surprised that the rice paper used was the thinnest I have ever seen. You cannot image how delicious this was ... it was so good that we ate it for 3 days in a row!

Hue Shrimp and Vegetable Pancakes (Banh Khoai)
Recipe from "The Food of Vietnam" by Trieu Thi Choi & Marcel Isaak
Serves 4


1 1/4 cups (150g) rice flour
1 1/4 cups (310ml) water
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup (40g) straw mushrooms
8 fresh medium shrimp (200g), poached for 30 seconds until just cooked, peeled and deveined
1 cup (50g) bean sprouts
2 spring onions, sliced
1 fresh chilli, thinly sliced
Fish Sauce Dip, for dipping


1) Mix the rice flour, water, egg, salt and sugar in a bowl until it becomes a smooth batter. Set aside for 10 mins, then sieve through a wire mesh to remove any lumps.

2) Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a wok or skillet over hgh heat, turning to grease the sides as well. Add 1/2 cup of the batter and turn the work or skillet to obtain a thin round layer of batter. Top the batter with some straw mushrooms, then cover the work or skillet and pan-fry for about 1 minute, taking care not to scorch the bottom of the pancake.

3) Remove the cover, add some shrimp, bean sprouts, sliced chilli and spring onion on top and continue to pan-fry the pancake until golden brown and crispy. This should take about 2 minutes, depending on your stove's fire. Remove from the heat. Pan-fry all the pancakes in the same manner.

4) Serve the pancakes hot with a bowl of Fish Sauce Dip (Nuoc Mam Cham) (recipe below) on the side and a plate of lettuce leaves and fresh herbs such as basil and mint.

Fish Sauce Dip (Nuoc Mam Cham)
Recipe Yields 1/2 cup

1/4 cup (60ml) water or fresh coconut juice
1 - 2 tsp rice vinegar
3 tsp sugar
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and minced finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced finely (more if you are a garlic lover)
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce

Bring the water or coconut juice, vinegar and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Remove and set aside to cool. Combine the chilli, garlic and lime juice, mix well and stir in the fish sauce. For a variation, add some grated carror or carrot and radish pickles into the dipping sauce.


Kana said...

I have seen this and now have the recipe! Congrats on your win :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those pancakes look fantastic! I love Vietnamese food...



El said...

These look incredibly tasty. Congrats on the win!

Anonymous said...

These pancakes look amazing, would love to try!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Looks so yummy! Light and refreshing and guiltless to eat :) Colours are beautiful!

Pei-Lin said...

OK, I love Vietnamese food, too!! Gotta give it a shot someday! Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!

mycookinghut said...

Love Vietnamese food and this is on e of my fav!!

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