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Banh Xeo – the unique pancake of Vietnamese cuisine

Banh Xeo – also known as crispy Vietnamese pancake, crepe or sizzling cake – is a famous street food which is widely believed to originate from France during its occupation of Vietnam. The word xèo depicts the sizzling sound when pouring the rice batter into the hot skillet

This “Vietnamese pancake” has a yellow outer layer and is filled with boiled pork strips, shrimp, bean sprouts and spring onion. Though some people might prefer to use chopsticks to directly eat Banh Xeo, the best way to enjoy it is eating with your hands. First, take a piece of Banh Xeo and put it on the rice paper. Add fresh vegetables that are always served with the dish (there’re a lot of vegetables to choose from, but lettuce, Vietnamese perilla, basil and bean sprouts are the most common) and roll them tightly. With each bite, don’t forget to dip the roll into the sauce.

I am sure that right after the first bite, the impressive taste of crunchy crust, savoury fillings, sweet and sour dipping sauce will definitely make you fall in love with this delicacy. Besides, the sauce is a perfect blend of spices (including fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic and chilli), while the herbs help eliminate the greasy taste.

Each region across this S-shaped country has its own unique ingredients and flavours to make Banh Xeo become one of its specialities. In Southern Vietnam, Banh Xeo is the size of a large dish and its outer layer is also yellow. In Central Vietnam, the dish is white and much smaller.  As for Hanoi, the preparations of Banh Xeo are similar to those in the south, but include special fillings like slices of Indian taro and green mango. Perhaps because of those differences, not only Vietnamese people but also foreigners may find it hard to resist the attraction of a crispy, messy but colourful combination all consisting in Banh Xeo.

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If you haven’t had plan to travel in Hanoi yet, follow these instructions to make yourself a delicious dish of Banh Xeo at home:


400 g rice flour

2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

500 ml water

250 ml beer (or coconut milk)

300 g pork belly thinly sliced

500 g small white shrimp tips and legs trimmed

300 g pork belly thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of grounded pepper

Fresh vegetable platter: lettuce/mustard leaves, mint, cilantro, perilla

2 tablespoon Sugar

2 tablespoon Fish sauce

10 tablespoon Water / coconut soda / 7UP / Sprite

1 teaspoon Garlic Minced

1 teaspoon Chili Minced

1 tablespoon Lime juice


  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the rice flour, turmeric powder and salt in water. Add beer (or coconut milk) and chopped spring onion. Stir well and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  •  Season the pork belly and shrimp with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  •  Heat a heavy- bottom skillet (20cm/8-inch diameter) on medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Add 2 shrimps and a few pork slices and fry until the shrimps and pork change color on both sides. Ladle some of the batter (about 1/3 cup) and tilt the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter evenly. Cover and fry for 1 minute. Uncover and add some beansprouts, then cover again and fry for another 1 minute. Fold the crepe in half so that the 2 shrimps stay in opposite quarters. Fry for another 1 minute and transfer to a plate. Repeat until you finish the batter. If you can manage 2-3 pans at a time, it’s faster.
  • For the dipping sauce: In a bowl, combine sugar, water, fish sauce together and stir it well. (Remember the “magic ratio” 115 which means 1 sugar: 1 fish sauce: 5 water). Then add lime juice. For garnish, you can add some finely julienned carrots or tiny cells (juice follicle) of the lime. Add garlic and chilli at last.
  •  To serve, use scissors to cut the crepe in half. Take a large piece of lettuce or mustard leaf (rau cai) or softened rice paper, place some herbs and half a crepe on top. Roll it up, dip in the dipping fish sauce and serve.

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