When I plan menus for my private chef clients, I make sure not to repeat a dish more than once or twice in 6 months. The last thing I want is for someone to get tired of a specific meal. Plus, I love the variety. In fact, I love it so much that I do the same when it comes to my meals. This week I decided to revisit a dish I had many, many years ago, banh xeo. The Vietnamese stuffed pancake is served as a wrap with fresh ingredients on the side and a dipping sauce. Inspired by that idea, I decided to put a little spin on it to create Vietnamese shrimp egg pancakes with scallion chili dipping sauce. It's slightly different from the original but still just as tasty!
Vietnamese Shrimp Egg Pancakes
Scallion chili dipping sauce
- 2 tablespoon oil
- ½ cup scallions chopped
- 2 Thai chile minced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 5 tablespoon oil divided
- 4 shallots thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 Thai chile minced
- 6 large eggs
- 14 ounces coconut cream
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 12 ounces shrimp chopped
- 1 ½ cups bean sprouts
- 1 head red leaf lettuce leaves separated
- 1 small cucumber thinly sliced
- 4 radish thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch Thai basil
- 1 small bunch mint
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- pickled chilies
- Make the scallion chili dipping sauce. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add the scallions, chile, ginger, and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and zest. Let cool.
- Make the pancake batter. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, and Thai chile and saute until the aromatics are softened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and coconut cream. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, stirring until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the mixture to the eggs along with the turmeric, salt, and sauteed shallot mixture. Mix until well combined.
- Heat 2 tablespoons in a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Add about ¼ cup chopped shrimp and 2 tablespoons of chopped green peppers. Saute for 2 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked. Add ¼ cup bean sprouts, tossing to combine. Pour ¾ cup of the pancake batter into the pan, swirling the pan around to evenly spread the batter. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of oil around the edges of the pancake. Cover the pan and continue to cook until the pancake is crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Carefully slide the pancake onto a plate and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Serve the shrimp egg pancakes with red leaf lettuce, sliced cucumber, radish, fresh herbs, pickled chilies, and scallion dipping sauce. Make wraps with the lettuce, pancakes, and toppings and dip them into the sauce.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
For some reason, whenever I tried to make banh xeo in the past, it never came out right. All you have to do is combine rice flour with water, turmeric, and a couple of other ingredients together. However, no matter what ratios I used, it always ended up like...goo.
So, to make my life easier, I decided to add egg to the batter and turn it more into an Asian omelet. The pancakes are still delicate but I've made much more success turning it into an actual pancake than with the original dish.
To make the Vietnamese shrimp egg pancake batter, first, saute the aromatics. This is not typical of banh xeo but I thought they added more flavor to the mix. You can omit the Thai chile if you want a milder version. Once the shallots become golden and tender, remove the pan from heat and let the aromatics cool completely.
Whisk together the cornstarch and water to dissolve the cornstarch. Then, combine it with the eggs, turmeric, coconut cream, salt, and sauteed aromatics. It's important to use coconut cream and not coconut milk. Coconut cream is much thicker and richer than coconut milk. If you use coconut milk, it'll make the batter's consistency too thin.
Heat oil in a 10-inch non-stick saute pan and cook the fillings for the pancakes including the shrimp, bell peppers, and bean sprouts. You can play around with the filling and use what you like. Swap out the shrimp for chicken, use a combination of shrimp and pork, or add other vegetables to the mix.
Pour about ¾ cup of the pancake batter into the pan and swirl it around to create one even layer. Think of it like you're making a crepe. If you use a small or larger pan, you'll have to adjust the amount of batter.
Now, drizzle more oil around the edge of the Vietnamese shrimp egg pancake to help it from sticking to the pan. Cover and let it cook over low heat until golden brown. Since we're covering the pan, there's no need to flip the pancake over.
Once the edges are crisp and golden, carefully remove the pancake from the pan and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
As for the sauce, I paired the savory pancake with a scallion chili dipping sauce. The original dish is served with nuoc cham, a sauce made from fish sauce, lime, water, and sugar. I wanted something with a little more pizzaz so I added scallions, ginger, garlic, and Thai chile to the mix. You can omit the Thai chile here as well if you prefer. You can also make the sauce up to 2 days in advance.
Prepare the fresh ingredients including the red leaf lettuce, fresh herbs, pickled chilies, thinly sliced radish, and cucumber. To make quick pickled chilies, thinly slice Fresno chilies. Then, combine ½ cup boiling water with ½ cup rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pour it over the chilies and let them sit for 30 minutes.
Serve the Vietnamese shrimp egg pancakes with fresh ingredients and scallion chili dipping sauce and get your hands dirty! Tear a piece of lettuce and make a wrap with a piece of pancake, fresh herbs, radish, cucumber, and chilies. Dip the wrap into the sauce and enjoy!
These pancakes are similar enough to the original banh xeo and yet still different but in a good way. Every mouthful is bursting with flavor and freshness. I can honestly say I enjoyed every bite!
For more Vietnamese food inspiration check out this coconut shrimp banh mi recipe!