Having Fun with Charles Phan’s Banh Xeo (Vietnamese-style crepes)

Banh Xeo_by A Little Yumminess.jpgBanh Xeo_A Little YumminessEveryone in my family loves, loves loves Vietnamese food (it’s our standard “go-to” Friday night dinner out). The layered flavors and textures, the freshness and brightness make it totally irresistible. High up on my to do list to the beg some of my friends with cuisine knowledge to give me some tutoring in the kitchen, but in the meantime I keep doing my best to chase the flavors that we love by absorbing all I can from every cookbook, article and video I can find. (If you know of good resources, let me know!)

This recipe for banh xeo (Vietnamese-style crepes) from Charles Phan of SF’s always great Slanted Door restaurant, was a fun one that I wanted to share since it’s a new technique and canvas to play with. The batter is simple to put together, and cooking the crepes isn’t too hard, especially if you have some experience with French crepes or other thin pancakes, but in any case prepare to practice a bit before you get “in the zone”. I will probably never get to the level of delicate laciness of Charles Phan’s banh xeo but making them is still pretty fun and my family will happily eat the rejects.

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Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Goes Global

It’s Thanksgiving morning and we’re looking forward to chowing down on turkey, mashed potatoes and all the fixins with the family. My very ambitious goal for today is to somehow manage to save some room for a sliver of pumpkin pie and a sliver of my husband’s granny smith apple pie. Dare to dream!

I’m in the “I love leftovers” camp, so as I sip my coffee and catch up on Top Chef this lazy holiday morning, I’m mulling over some possibilities for the foil covered paper plate of Thanksgiving turkey that will make its way back home with us. My dad’s “international fried rice” is a definite contender (heck, throw the cranberries and sweet potatoes in there too.) But I’m also thinking about some of our favorite global recipes that would be perfect with a substitution of some leftover turkey. Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving  — happy eating!

Vietnamese Bun Thit Nuong (Rice Noodle Bowls) with Nuoc Cham

Mexican Chilaquiles

Carribbean Cha Cha Bowls

Indian Turkey Tikka Masala

Thai Lemongrass Turkey and Coconut Soup


Sesame-Avocado Brown Rice Bowls

Quick and Fresh: Vietnamese Noodle Bowls

This is a go-to quick dinner because it doesn’t really require too much actual cooking. I also get to use my second favorite kitchen gadget, the nut mill, for chopping up the peanuts. [Chime-O-Matic rice cooker, you will always be my #1]. It’s light, refreshing and good for kids because they can pick and choose to customize their own bowl. You can also use rice noodle wrappers to make a little package instead, which is what I usually do with the leftovers. A great lunch for the next day! (The rice noodle wrappers — bahn trang, the ones you use for goi cuon–  are circular, and come dry in various sizes. You just submerge the wrapper in hot water for a few seconds until it’s soft and pliable. Fill and wrap like a burrito.)

You can include any combination of things you like, including grilled meat, seafood —  or just keep it vegetarian. Here are some of the basics we usually use:

  • Rice stick noodles boiled for ~2 minutes (until tender), then drained
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Chopped mint leaves and cilantro
  • Sliced carrots
  • Sliced cucumber (I like English Cucumbers because they’re crisper)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Sliced chiles (this one’s for you, Simran)
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Your favorite meat or seafood: Grilled, broiled or pan fried

I often use thin slices of marinated pork, broiled until carmelized using some approximation of this marinade.

  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 minced shallot
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1 Tbl soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass (bruise it a bit and slice into large pieces you can easily remove)
  • Ground black pepper to taste

The only other thing you need is a basic Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and whatever hot sauces or other condiments you like. Here’s a Nuoc Cham recipe I like from Viet World Kitchen. Here a spicy peanut dipping sauce from Sunday Nite Dinner that would be good as well.