Bahn Xeo

Hi! I finally signed up for driving lessons two weeks ago, and I'm five classes in. The first ten or so lessons are on a simulator,  and you get to pick the setting (I'm still driving on country roads:/), and whether you want to drive at night, or during the day. It's pretty much like a video game, and I guess for most people, that would be a comforting thought, except video games always stressed me out. The only game I was ever competent at was Mario Brothers, but apparently nobody plays that anymore? 

Anyway, after all that adrenalin-pumping excitement of driving on a simulator at 30 kmph, I'm usually ravenous when I get home. Mum rolls her eyes when I tell her this, but driving makes me hungry! I've gotten into the habit of stopping at our local shawarma joint, Cita Pani, for a post-class snack and picking up their kebabs that are so delicious but make you want to curl up afterwards the way a boa constrictor does after eating a baby goat. 

In general, my body has been having a hard time accepting that it's not on holiday anymore and I I could really do  with upping my vegetable intake by 400%. In an attempt to remedy this, we made a vietnamese crepe called Bahn Xeo two days ago. It's basically a thin, soft and crispy crepe that's stuffed with vegetables (and meat if you like) after being tossed in the most delicious sauce. I tried my hand at making Bahn Xeo a couple of years ago while living in Delhi and it was a bit of a disaster- it tasted chalky and bitter which may have had something to do with the fact that I OD-ed on the turmeric. Mum tinkered with the recipe a bit and her version of it is really really good. The vegetables we've used aren't traditional, but hit the same notes- crispy, peppery, crunchy and slightly sweet. Making the crepes takes a little bit of practice- it has a tendency to tear, but follow the recipe as closely as possible, and you'll be golden. 

Bahn Xeo (adapted from The Guardian)

Makes 7 crepes


For the filling:

½ small green papaya, julienned

1 medium-sized carrot, julienned

1 small red pepper, julienned

1 small yellow pepper, julienned

handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped

handful of coriander, finely chopped

For the sauce:

2 tbsp lime juice

½ tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp sweet soy sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ inch ginger, crushed

1 red chilli, finely chopped

salt to taste

For batter:

100 g rice flour

½ cup coconut milk

1 small egg

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ cup shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ cup spring onions, chopped

3 tbsp +2 tsp vegetable oil

salt to taste



To make the batter, mix the rice flour with the egg, turmeric and salt. Pour in the coconut milk.

Add enough water until you get a thin, crepe batter-like consistency. We used about a cup of water, but it really depends on the rice flour you use. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

In a pan on medium flame, heat 2 tsp oil and saute the spring onions, followed by the shrimp, until the shrimp starts changing colour, about a minute or two. Set aside.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables and toss to coat.

When ready to make the crepes, heat a nonstick pan on a medium-high flame. If using same pan that you used to sauté the shrimp, make sure you wipe away the oil first.

Pour a ladleful of batter and quickly swirl it around gently to cover the sides, as shown in the photograph.

Immediately after, drop in a few pieces of shrimp and spring onion.

Drizzle a little oil on the edges of the crepe to help it get crisp.

Let the crepe cook until the sides are crisp, golden, and pull away from the side of the pan.

Gently remove from the pan, fill half the crepe with vegetables and fold over.

Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve immediately.