This dish is one of the classic imperial Hue dishes, the small rice pancakes have a shape of water fern (Bèo in Vietnamese). The name Bánh Bèo comes after that, literally translated as water fern pancakes. The cake is white in color and featured with savory toppings of finely chopped dried of fresh shrimps, pork, mung bean paste, scallions, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil. To make, you use a special mold for these or they can be substituted by small shallow saucers. Bánh Bèo are time consuming to make, so allow yourself some times before serving it. By adding the tapioca starch to the flour, it gives a tone texture to the pancakes.
Recipe for Vietnamese Steamed Rice Pancakes with Shrimp and Pork Rinds – Bánh Bèo:
1 lb of rice flour
2 tbsp of tapioca starch
1 1/2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb fresh shrimps, shelled, deveined and finely chopped
1/2 lb pork shoulder, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt
Place the rice flour, tapioca starch and salt in the middle of large mixing bowl and slowly stir in about 1 quart water, continuously stir well until the batter is well incorporated. By adding tapioca starch to the mixture, it adds the firmness to the cakes. Or you can use the premixed banh beo flour sold at any Vietnamese market.
In Hue, they use special molds to make it, but you can use small shallow saucers like those used to serve soy sauce. Lightly coat them with oil before pouring in the rice flour mixture. This will make it easier to remove the rice cakes after steaming. Pour 2 tbsps of the flour mixture into each saucer, place the containers over a steamer and steam for about 1-2 minutes until the cakes are clear. Laddle the cakes out into plates and coat them with a bit of Scallion oil to make sure they don’t stick together.
How to Make the Topping:
In a small skillet, add 2 tbsp of oil. Wait until the oil is hot then stir in green onion, mix it occasionally until the it’s fragrant. Add in shrimp and pork. Season with sugar, salt and fish sauce. Stir fry the meat until cooked, 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook, as you want them moist. Put them into a food processor or hand chop the meat until it becomes a fine texture. If the topping is still wet, put it back into the skillet and simmer it until it’s dried, make sure to stir it frequently so the topping is not burned at the bottom.
To serve, arrange the rice pancakes on the plate, top with chopped shrimps, pork, sprinkle some crispy fried shallots and serve with the dipping fish sauce.
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