Savory Rolled Cakes (Banh Cuon)

Freshly made, these savory cakes are perfect as a snack or meal!This dish brings back fond memories of cooking with my Mom when I was a child.  She would set up a station in our kitchen and we would make hundreds of these Savory Rolled Cakes to enjoy that day and to save for quick meals later.  My Mom would pour the batter and flip out the cakes.  I would fill and roll.  I remember trying to roll them so they were evenly sized and perfectly smooth.  To this my Mom said “Don’t worry about making them perfect.  They all look the same in our stomachs.” 🙂  Ah yes, Mom’s always right.  These cakes are so delicious you’ll hardly notice one that isn’t rolled perfectly because you’ll be too busy devouring them and asking for a big second-helping.  The freshness of the herbs and cucumbers along with the steamed pork roll and bean sprouts makes this a refreshing yet hearty meal.  I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

The video contains lots of tips and tricks so please check it out.

Pouring off the liquid from the top of the batter is a technique to rinse the flour (similar to washing rice).  This helps to remove any impurities from the flours and promotes a bright white cake.  You’ll discard approximately 1 – 1 1/2 cups liquid.

The fried onions and steamed pork roll (chả lụa) can be purchased at your Asian grocer.  Packaged in small plastic jars the fried onions are really convenient and a pantry staple.  The steamed pork roll can be found in the refrigerated or freezer sections.

It really helps if you have someone assisting you with this dish but it’s very do-able by yourself as well.  Set up all the ingredients and tools so they are conveniently located.  This will minimize any fumbling around and you’ll be able to make the cakes quickly.

I use an 8″ non-stick skillet.  It’s nothing fancy but has a good non-stick surface.  When selecting your skillet, make sure it sits evenly on the burner.  It also helps if it’s not heavy as your wrists will be tired from the repeated flipping.  8″ makes a nice sized rolled cake but you can certainly use a larger pan.

If you want to make the cakes quickly and don’t care too much about the appearance, you can use a larger skillet and make the rolls without folding over the sides.  To serve simply cut the rolls into smaller sections.  It’s less work for sure! 🙂

For the work surface, I use a large cutting board but you can use a large plate or even baking trays.  Be sure to oil these surfaces well and frequently.  (I oil my cutting board after making 3-4 cakes.)

Stir the batter before making each cake.  This helps to remove any settling typical with these flours.

As stove settings vary, it’s difficult to say which is the exact heat setting.  Generally, it’s on the Low side.  You’ll have to experiment to find just the right setting and you’ll know you’ve achieved the optimal temperature when the batter coats the skillet quickly and evenly.  The cake should be smooth and not have large bubbles in it which indicates the skillet is too hot.

Don’t worry if the first couple of cakes aren’t right.  It takes a few tries to get everything dialed in.

This recipe makes a generous amount of filling.  For a less meat-filled roll, use 1 heaping tablespoonful.  The recipe accommodates using 2 Tbsp filling per roll.  If you like less meat, you’ll have some filling leftover and you can serve it as a side.

If not serving right away, brush the rolls with a thin layer of vegetable oil and then cover with plastic wrap to keep them moist.

Store any remaining rolls in the refrigerator and they are good for up to 1 week.  To reheat, warm in the microwave using Medium power.

These cakes freeze really well.  Store them in a re-sealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 3-months.  To reheat, warm in the microwave using Medium power.  They will taste just as good as the day they were made!  (Parents:  this is a great dish to make for your college students to take to school.  They will love you (even more) for it!!)

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Savory Steamed Rice Cakes (Banh Beo), Clear Shrimp and Pork Dumplings (Banh Bot Loc Tran), Steamed Rice Cakes and Pork Roll (Banh Day) and Sizzling Savory Crepes (Banh Xeo).

Ingredients

Batter
1 cup rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 cups room temperature water
2 cups boiling water
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Filling
1/2 oz dried wood ear mushroom slivers (also called black fungus)
1/2 medium yellow onion, approximately 4 oz
3/4 lb ground pork
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Other Ingredients
vegetable oil for cooking
fresh herbs:  mint, cilantro and Thail basil, plucked and washed
bean sprouts, trimmed and washed
1 cucumber
fried onions
steamed pork roll
fish sauce dipping sauce

Directions

In a large cup or bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch with the room temperature water and boiling water.  Whisk for a few minutes combining well.  Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Soak the dried wood ear mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.  Drain well and then finely chop.

Finely dice the yellow onion.

Season the ground pork with salt and pepper and then mix well.

Heat a wok over Medium Low heat.  When hot add the ground pork and wood ear mushrooms.  Cook for 5-6 minutes stir constantly.  Use a spatula to break the meat into small pieces.  Add the diced onions and cook for another 2 minutes.  Transfer the filling into a clean bowl.

Take the batter that’s been resting and carefully pour out just the clear liquid from the top into a measuring cup.  Make note of the amount poured out then discard this liquid.  Measure out the same amount of fresh water and pour into the batter.  Add the salt and vegetable oil into the batter.  Mix well.

Brush vegetable oil onto the work surface.

Heat an 8″ non-stick skillet over Low heat until hot and then lightly oil.  Pour 1/8 cup batter into the hot skillet.  Swirl the skillet to coat it evenly with the batter.  Cover with a lid and cook for 45 – 60 seconds.  Remove the lid and flip the pan over the work surface to remove the cake.  Allow to cool for 1 minute.  Place a heaping tablespoonful of the meat filling at the top of the cake.  Fold over the sides and then roll-up the cake.  Continue making the cakes until you run out of ingredients.

Dunk the bean sprouts in boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove and drain well.  Cut the cucumbers into 1/8-inch slices and then into thin strips.  Coarsely chop all herbs.  Cut the steamed pork roll into thin slices.  Arrange the vegetables and pork roll on a large plate.

To serve, place the Savory Rolled Cakes on a plate.  Top with the bean sprouts, cucumbers, fresh herbs and steamed pork roll.  Sprinkle with fried onions and serve with a generous side of fish sauce dipping sauce.

Yields:  30-35 rolls, 4-6 servings

Delicious and delicate cakes filled with ground pork, mushroom and onions and served with all the fixins' !

Don’t throw away the “mess-ups”!  Cut them into smaller sections and serve with the toppings and any leftover meat filling!  Yum!!

Here's what you make when you have rolled cakes that just didn't come out right! Delish!!

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14 Responses to Savory Rolled Cakes (Banh Cuon)

  1. Lilian February 2, 2017 at 7:30 am #

    Hi Trang,
    I tried this recipes today. Though the skin don’t look nice…. got a lot of holes , is it my pan being too hot as you had mentioned. But it’s delicious , my hubby likes it.I’ll definitely try again until I can achieve good results .thank you so much for sharing

    • Trang February 4, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

      Hi Lillian,
      It does sound like your pan is too hot. Did it sizzle when you poured in the batter? It takes a bit of practice and I am sure your banh cuon will be less holey on your next try. Good Luck!

  2. Heidi February 2, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    Hi
    Did you ever try to make Chinese banh cuon. I loved the texture at dim sum place. I also heart that they used Borax to get its consistency, but Borax is prohibited in America but Chinese has been using it any way. I have tried a few times without Borax and they didn’t come out right. What is your thought about this. Thank you very much for your fast response, Happy Cooking.

    • Trang February 2, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

      Hi Heidi,
      I think you’re referring to the soft and silky texture of the Chinese banh cuon. Personally, I don’t think any dish is worth comprising your health no matter how delicious. If you would like a softer texture, decrease the tapioca starch and increase the rice flour. Let me know if you like this texture more. Good Luck!

  3. Heidi February 1, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    What is the purpose of using cold then hot water.

    • Trang February 1, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

      Hi Heidi,
      The order of adding cold and then boiling water when making the batter helps the cakes to achieve the right consistency and texture.

  4. Nhi August 19, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Hi chi Trang,

    Thank you so much for your Banh Cuon recipe, especially tips and tricks you shared at the end of the video. I once made Banh Cuon following recipes from youtube but I was not fully happy with the result. Then I found your video and I am so glad that my family really love it. They said they taste and look much better than the ones they bought from Asian stores :-).

    • Trang August 23, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

      Hi Nhi,

      I am so happy to hear you and your family enjoyed the Banh Cuon recipe I shared. Great job to you because these cakes can be a bit tricky to make. Thank you for taking the time to share your results.
      Happy Cooking! 🙂

  5. Lan | morestomach August 17, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    i love love love this dish. i think my stepmother attempted to make this once before, but she steamed it. i’ve made this dish a couple of times, the last time being the most successful. it is tedious work, but i imagine doing with your mom was so fun and bonding! it is much easier to just purchase the dish already prepared but there is something special about making it your self, from scratch.

    • Trang August 23, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

      Hi Lan,

      I love this dish too it’s definitely time-consuming to make from scratch. I agree it’s much easier to buy and enjoy. For some folks who don’t have the convenience of abundant Vietnamese restaurants knowing how to make this delicious dish is worth all of the effort 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Carolyn August 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Hello Trang,

    I tried your recipe twice. Both times the skin turned out transparent but not white in colour. When I removed from the flying pan, it did not come out as a smooth sheet but a lump sheet. Please let me know what I have done wrong.

    • Trang August 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

      Hi Carolyn,
      The off-white color may be a result of the brand of rice flour or tapioca starch you used. Also, be sure to use fresh flours and starches. The flours and starches turn yellow when they age. Pouring out the water and replacing with fresh water is a technique to rinse the flours. If you are finding that the water is dirty, you may want to repeat this process a few times and this helps to make a nice, white cake. Regarding the cake not coming up as a flat sheet, it sounds like the cake is sticking to the pan, in which case, you need to use more oil or try a different non-stick pan. I hope that helps! Please give it another try and let me know if you’re successful. 🙂

  7. Amy August 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Hi Trang,
    I saw some of the Asian supermarkets start to sell the ” noi trang banh cuon” in case you are interesting in the steaming method (about 30$ something). I heard the steam banh cuon taste better than the one make in the non stick pan. But then again, another cooking gadget in the kitchen.

    • Trang August 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      Hi Amy,

      I like the steamed version of these cakes and occasionally make them. I don’t have the steaming pot but made the ring using some very basic household items so it’s one less gadget I have to buy! 🙂 This skillet method is definitely easier and faster. Hope you’re doing well!

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