Vietnam's Banh Xeo
Banh xeo, a Vietnamese-style crepe, is prepared differently throughout the country. Tourists traveling about in Vietnam are sure to encounter a different recipe, and sometimes even a different name, for banh xeo depending on which region and province they are visiting.
In the southern region, the banh xeo is the size of a large dish and yellow in color due to the employment of turmeric powder. The southern people always add coconut milk to the rice flour to make the crepe extra delicious. The crepe is stuffed with bean sprouts, mung beans, shrimp and pork. A sweet and sour fish sauce and fresh vegetables are used as accompaniments.
In the central region of Quang Ngai, banh xeo cooks make a smaller crepe that is white in color. In Hue, the crepes are called banh khoai, which is similar to banh xeo, but smaller in size and stuffed with fennel, sour star fruit, green banana and a thick soy sauce.
In Phan Thiet, the intersection between Tuyen Quang Street, Nguyen Tat Thanh Boulevard and Thu Khoa Huan Street is devoted to banh xeo. In addition to selling the crepes to patrons, vendors also prepare them en masse for birthday parties and festivals.
Northern preparations of banh xeo are similar to the ones down south, but include special fillings like slices of Indian taro and manioc.
In some regions, banh xeo is prepared thick, but southern crepes are characteristically thin, crispy and served fresh out of the frying pan. The secret to extra-thin crepes is a deep frying pan and a quick wrist to coat the frying pan with the batter before it starts to set.
In Ho Chi Minh City, southern-style banh xeo can be found at Banh Xeo 46A on Dinh Cong Trang Street, District 1 or An la ghien Restaurant, 54A Nguyen Van Troi Street, Ward 15, Phu Nhuan District.
For those looking to try a Cambodian-style crepe called banh xeo Nam Vang, head over to the Eco-tourism area of Vuon Thien Thanh (171 Street No. 22, Ward Thanh My, District 9). In addition to the traditional fillings, this version includes sliced bamboo shoots. The crepes are served with la lot leaves that are a bit spicy.
Those seeking a meatless version of banh xeo can find them at vegetarian restaurants on An Lac Restaurant, 175/15 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1, and Thien Nguyen Restaurant, 174 Calmete Street, District 1.