Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Crêpes) with Tofu

Bánh Xèo is basically a crêpe or pancake made from a basic blend of rice flour, turmeric, and coconut cream, along with other ingredients. Bánh xèo is food meant to be eaten with your hands. You’ll always find a big plate of greens with a mix of herbs to go with it.

Filling

  • 1/4 cup split yellow mung beans
  • 4 ounces baked tofu, sliced (variation: 2 ounces tofu and 2 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms)
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
  • Several sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 cup mung beans
  • 1 handful bean sprouts

Crêpes

  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Greens
Several large leaves of lettuce
Large handful of mixed herbs (Thai basil, mint, cilantro; tiá tô or Vietnamese perilla)

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

For the filling
Cover the mung beans with water and soak overnight or at least 4 hours. Drain. Steam in a basket over simmering water until tender, about 20 minutes. Prepare the tofu (and mushrooms, if using), scallions, cilantro, and mung bean sprouts and set aside.

For the crêpes
In a bowl, whisk together the rice flour, salt, turmeric, coconut milk, and water to form a smooth batter. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu (and mushrooms, if using) and cook until heated through. Remove and set aside. Wipe the oil out of the pan and return to medium heat with a fresh teaspoon of oil. Pour half of the batter in the pan and swirl to distribute evenly. Sprinkle half of the mung beans and scallions over the batter. Then arrange the tofu (and mushrooms, if using), cilantro, and bean sprouts over half of the crêpe. When cooked through and edges are browned, fold the crêpe over and slide onto a plate. Repeat for second crêpe.

For the greens
Prepare the greens and set aside. (May be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.)

For the sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce. Set aside. (May be prepared ahead of time kept in the refrigerator.)

To serve
Serve as an appetizer to share or a main dish. To eat, wrap a piece of the crêpe into a lettuce leaf with a few herbs. Dip into the sauce and enjoy!

(This recipe is totally vegan and vegetarian. However traditionally these pancakes are also filled with shrimps and fried pork meat.)

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