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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cambodian Food Part II! Banh Chao (Banh xeo)

So I made Banh chao today!! It turned out perfect!! I was soo happy!  Banh chao is the Cambodian version (different only in name) of the Vietnamese crepe called banh xeo (bahn say oh). In Vietnam and Cambodia, it is a common street food. I actually tried to make it once a while ago, but I had never actually seen anyone make it before, so I totally messed it up.  It just fell apart, and my boyfriend's mom laughed at me.

Here is a video for you to take a look at the technique. It's very important that you tilt the pan immediately to spread the batter evenly because the temperature is up so high that this makes a huge difference in the end result.  If you don't tilt the pan properly, part of your banh chao will be doughy.  The goal is to have a nice, thin and crispy texture.  Dark brown spots are actually a good thing in this case.

So the recipe is as follows:
1 pack Banh Xeo mix (Banh Xeo is the Vietnamese name--Banh Tsyow)

2 green onions thinly sliced

1 yellow onion thinly sliced (rings cut in half)

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

medium shrimp (2 per crepe)

thinly sliced pork loin(about 3 pieces per crepe)(you can buy thick-cut center-cut pork chops and slice it)

bean sprouts (2 bags from Asian market)

1 cup coconut milk (not cream)

3-1/2 cups water

about 1/4 cup oil for pan

fresh basil
fresh mint
butter lettuce (also called bibb or Boston lettuce)
1 thinly sliced cucumber, seedless preferred
sweet fish sauce (

After slicing, preseason all meat with salt, pepper, and garlic (fresh or powder).
Mix both portions of Banh Xeo mix according to pack (1 c coconut milk and 3-1/2 c water) and add green onions (not the yellow) and let sit for 15 minutes.

Heat a skillet to high and put enough oil so that an omelete won't stick, for example. As skillet is heating, add pork, shrimp, and yellow onions stirring constantly. Once the meat is cooked and skillet is fully up to high temperature, ladel batter into pan (least amount possible to cover pan, assisted by tilting pan side to side). Put a hand full of bean sprouts on one side and let crepe cook until edges turn up. Another indicator to confirm doneness is that bubbles will come close to the center.

 Once dark golden brown, fold crepe and plate with herbs and serve with small bowl of sauce. Remember, the key to this dish is the crispiness, so don't rush it. It is worth it to wait until the pan is nice and hot and the crepe becomes dark golden brown. It really should be darker even than the picture I showed.

How to eat:
This dish is eaten with your hands using lettuce to grab crepe along with herbs and cucumber. Dip what you grabbed with the lettuce into the fish sauce and enjoy!

Can be refrigerated for a couple of days and enjoyed later.  Just cover well and reheat in a hot pan.

This dish can be found at Mekong (where it is horribly greasy and I don't recommended it there) and at the place in the plaza beside Tan A Market (I forget the name) at the corner of West Broad and Horsepen. Theirs is good, but I can't say the same for their spring rolls because they put entirely too much overpowering basil.

Source of picture:,