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Sizzling Savory Crepes (Banh Xeo)

Sizzling Savory Crepes Wrapped in Lettuce with Fresh HerbsIt looks like an omelette but is often called a pancake or crepe.  “Banh” means cake and “Xeo” means sizzle–that’s the sound the batter makes when it’s poured into the hot skillet.  So “Sizzle Cake” is translated here to Sizzling Savory Crepes.   Whatever you call it,  these savory cakes made from a rice flour batter, filled with meat, shrimp and vegetables and then pan-fried until crispy, are simply scrumptious.  Believe it or not there are no eggs in this recipe.  The bright yellow color is actually from turmeric powder, a wonderfully fragrant spice.

These crepes can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main dish.  Some things you must not omit when serving these delicious crepes are lots of fresh greens, lettuce and assorted herbs, Carrot and Radish Pickles and Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce.  Eat these crepes like lettuce wraps.  Cut a piece of the crepe and wrap it in chilled lettuce.  Add some fresh herbs and zesty pickles.  Then dip the lettuce wrap in lots of fish sauce dipping sauce.  So tasty and refreshing!

A few notes on the recipe

The batter needs to rest a minimum of 3 hours to allow the flour to settle to the bottom so you can pour off the liquid from the top.  This process “washes” the flour and makes for a nice and light batter.

You can buy the batter in ready-to-mix packages at the Asian grocery store if you don’t want to mix your own batter.  Just follow the instructions on the package for adding the liquid.

For lower calorie crepes, substitute milk for the coconut milk.  So folks even use beer as the liquid of choice.  Give it a try!  It adds an interesting flavor.

The traditional recipe uses pork but I like chicken in this dish.  Feel free to use any meat you enjoy.

These crepes are best made using a heavy 9-inch skillet. A weighty skillet holds the heat well and allows the crepes to cook evenly and quickly.

Stir the batter each time before pouring into the skillet as the mixture settles. Don’t use too much batter. The crepes should be thin and not thick like a pancake.  Pour just enough batter to cover the skillet.

The proportions for each crepe are as follows:

Batter: a little less than 1/2 cup
1 oz onions
2 oz chicken
3 shrimp
1 Tbsp mung bean
1 oz jicama
1 oz bean sprouts

As stove settings and temperatures vary, adjust the heat accordingly after making your first crepe. This recipe does require you to adjust the heat constantly so diligence is required.

If you’re not serving the crepes right away, place them on a wire rack and keep them warm in the oven set at 200 degrees F.  Don’t place them on a flat surface or they will get soggy.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.  To reheat, bake them in the oven for a few minutes to get them toasty and warm again.

Watch the video below for instructions.


for the Batter:
1-16 oz bag rice flour
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric powder
1-14 oz can coconut milk
4 green onions

for the Filling:
1/2 cup peeled split mung bean + 1/4 tsp salt + 2/3 cup water
1 small onion
1 lb jicama
1 lb bean sprouts, washed and trimmed
2 lbs chicken thighs
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb size 31/40 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup vegetable oil


Combine the rice flour, all-purpose flour and water in a large bowl.  Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.  Let the mixture rest for 3 hours.

Rinse the mung bean with water several times until the water is clear.  Fill the bowl with water and let the beans soak for 1 hour.  Drain into a colander and shake off any remaining water.  Add the beans into the rice cooker along with salt and water.  Spread the beans out making an even layer and then add water (just enough to cover the beans.)  Cook the beans in the rice cooker.  When the cooker switches to the Keep Warm setting, unplug the rice cooker and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.  Gently scoop out the beans into a small bowl and set aside for now.

Peel the onion and then cut into thin slices.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the jicama.  Cut it into thin strips or use the fine blade on a mandoline to shred.

Trim the bean sprouts.

Cut off the root end of the green onions and discard.  Chop the remaining stems and set aside in a separate cup.

Cut the chicken into thin strips. Combine the chicken with minced garlic, salt and black pepper.  Set aside for now.

Carefully pour out the liquid from the top of the flour mixture removing 1 cup and discard.  Add the sugar, turmeric powder, and coconut milk and then mix well.  Stir in the chopped green onions.

Heat a skillet over Medium heat until it’s hot.  Brush the skillet with 1 tsp of vegetable oil.  Add 1 oz onions and 2 oz chicken and stir-fry for 3 minutes.  Add 3 pieces of shrimp to the pan.  Stir the batter quickly to dissolve any settling.  Pour a ladleful of batter, a little less than 1/2 cup, into the skillet.  Quickly swirl the skillet and distribute the batter into a thin and even layer.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of mung beans, add 1 oz of jicama and 1 oz of bean sprouts onto the crepe.  Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 2 minutes (until the shrimp is pink).

Remove the lid and turn up the heat to Medium High.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Check under the crepe and make sure it’s golden brown.  Use a spatula to fold the crepe in half and then cook for another minute.   Transfer the crepe to a wire cooling rack.  Continue making the crepes until all the ingredients are used.

Yields: 15 crepes

Savory crepes filled with chicken, shrimp and vegetables and then pan-fried to golden perfection!

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Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you’re in need of a dish with some pizazz, look no further!  These Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps are beautiful when assembled, absolutely scrumptious and so much fun to eat.  There’s something so carefree (and messy!) about eating with your fingers and this is the dish for you to just dig in.  Grab a leaf of lettuce, add some chicken and then pile on the fillings: noodles, carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro and cucumber and shallots marinated in a light vinaigrette.  Then lightly wrap the leaf around the fillings.  Dip the lettuce wrap into your sauce of choice.  Check out the recipe for the Essential Dipping Sauces.  They go perfectly with these Lettuce Wraps.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.


Grilled Chicken:
1.5 lb chicken breast tenderloins
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp minced lemongrass
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp crushed peanuts for topping

Marinated Cucumbers:
1 large cucumber
1/2 shallot
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp roasted black sesame seeds

3 oz dry, extra thin rice or wheat noodle

Lettuce Wraps:
1 head butter leaf lettuce
1 red cabbage, outer leaves
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts


Cut chicken tenderloins in half lengthwise so they are approxoimately 1/2-inch thick.  In a large bowl, add all ingredients (except for chicken and crushed peanuts) and stir together.  Add chicken and toss together coating chicken evenly with the marinade.  Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cut off the core and gently peel the leaves from the butter leaf lettuce.  Trim the leaves if needed.  Wash lettuce in cold water and drain well.  Use a salad spinner to remove any excess water.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Prepare the cilantro, shredded carrots and bean sprouts in the same way.

Cut red cabbage in half and slice off 1/2-inch section into the core.  Peel the the first 3 layers of the red cabbage being careful not to tear through the leaves.  Separate the leaves and cut each cabbage bowl in half to form cabbage cups.  Set aside for now.

Trim off the ends of the cucumber and then cut into thirds.  Use an apple corer to remove the core.  Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices, approximately 1/8-inch thick.  Thinly slice shallots as well.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except for seasame seeds.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add cucumber and shallots and toss together.  Cover bowl and refrigerate.

Place noodles into a large heat-proof bowl.  Cover noodles with boiling water.  Stir the noodles and allow to soak for 2 minutes.  Drain noodles shaking off any excess water.  Spread noodles around a colander and allow to air dry.

Grill chicken using an indoor or outdoor grill.  Cook chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness of chicken.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cover a large plate with the butter leaf lettuce.  Place 5 red cabbage cups along the edge of the plate.  Fill each cup with noodles, cilantro, carrots, and bean sprouts.  Fill the last cup with the marinated cucumbers.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the cucumbers.  Add grilled chicken into the center of plate and garnish with crushed peanuts.

To enjoy this dish, take a piece of butter leaf lettuce, add a piece of grilled chicken and your favorite fillings.  Lightly wrap the lettuce around the filling and dip into your favorite sauce.  Enjoy!

Yields: 4-6 servings

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