Every so often I get this intense longing for Vietnam. I fill this hole with tasty Vietnamese food, or at least the best versions I can get or create back here in the UK. A mouthful of anything distinctly Vietnamese sends me straight back there, to the tiny plastic stools perched outside of local street food eateries engulfed in the amazing smells and loud noises of motorbikes and car horns.
I remember trying my first ever bánh xèo. Despite struggling to break it apart with my chopsticks, I managed to scoff it all down much too quickly. It tasted incredible and I was amazed at how easy it was to find vegan versions of it (thanks to their large Buddhist population!).
I became a little obsessed from that moment on. And this obsession carried on even after I left Vietnam. So I knew I had to try replicate it so that I could still enjoy this amazing dish, just like with my vegan Vietnamese spring rolls.
After a few years of working on this vegan bánh xèo recipe I am finally ready to share it! That being said, I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily the most authentic recipe. I am British and only spent a few years in Vietnam. But I have made this recipe using ingredients that are easily accessible in the UK, so you find this useful to follow.
If you are looking to support a vegan Vietnamese blogger, I would fully recommend making your way to The Viet Vegan’s blog here.
What is bánh xèo?
Bánh xèo is a type of savoury pancake that is made from rice flour, water, and turmeric. It is then filled up with various other ingredients including beansprouts, mung beans, and spring onions. It is common to see it made with either fish or meat inside, but it can easily be made using tofu and mushrooms instead.
It is then served up with fresh herbs, lettuce and nước chấm dipping sauce (made using fish sauce). Vegan versions may be served alongside nước chấm chay, a vegan version of the fish-based dipping sauce.
In some regions of Vietnam they will serve up the bánh xèo with spring roll wrappers. This is my preferred method of eating bánh xèo, so I give instructions to include this in your dish below.
What is bánh xèo batter made of?
The batter that is used for bánh xèo is really quite simple. It is made using rice flour, water, and turmeric. The turmeric is what gives it its lovely yellowy-orange colour, not egg as many people think.
The rice flour gives the bánh xèo batter a different texture to other pancakes you may have eaten. Which is why you really need to give this dish a try, it isn’t like anything you’ve had before!
Sometimes you may see that plain white wheat-based flours are added to the bánh xèo batter recipe. Whilst this isn’t traditional, it does help to bind the batter together whilst it is cooking and works well for any novices attempting to cook this. It is for this reason that I have also included plain white flour in this recipe, but feel free to sub it for more rice flour if you are feeling confident!
Is bánh xèo vegan-friendly?
Bánh xèo is made up of many components that are vegan-friendly. First of all, the batter itself is vegan. There are no eggs used to bind it, so happy days for us vegans!
It is the fillings and dipping sauce that may not be so vegan-friendly. For instance, many bánh xèo recipes will use pork and shrimp. And it may be recommended that you dip the bánh xèo into a fish-based dipping sauce.
That being said, it is very easy to sub any animal-based products in the bánh xèo filling for vegan versions. I really love Omnipork’s vegan pork-style strips. They have a great meaty texture and taste. I also like to use tofu strips, which is quite a common ingredient in bánh xèo anyway. For the dipping sauce, I just use a vegan fish sauce variation – nước chấm chay.
So yes, it is vegan-friendly if you just make a few simple substitutions!
What do you eat with bánh xèo?
There are quite a few different foods you can eat bánh xèo with. Traditionally it can be served up alongside herbs and lettuce with a dipping sauce, so you can wrap up bits of the pancake in the leaves and then dip into the sauce. In some regions of Vietnam it is also traditional to eat it with rice paper (spring roll wrappers), so you can wet the wrappers and then fill them up with the herbs and pancake and then wrap it up before dipping it into your sauce.
If you fancy a bit of a feast you could serve up this vegan bánh xèo with other amazing Vietnamese dishes, like my vegan Vietnamese spring rolls.
Vegan pork bánh xèo recipe
Bánh xèo mix
- 85 g Rice flour
- 30 g Plain flour
- 1 tsp Ground turmeric
- 275 ml Sparkling water
- 150 g Coconut cream - approx. 160ml
- 1/2 tsp Salt
Bánh xèo filling
- 2 Spring onions
- 200 g Firm tofu
- 100 g King oyster mushrooms
- 150 g Vegan pork - I use Omnipork strips
- 150 g Beansprouts
Bánh xèo serving ingredients
- Thai basil
- Mustard leaves - use rocket leaves if you can't get these
- Spring roll wrappers - optional
- Nước chấm chay - Try out this recipe from The Viet Vegan
Make bánh xèo batter
- Combine all of the batter ingredients together and whisk thoroughly so that it is fully mixed and there are no lumps
- Put the batter into the fridge for a few hours, or prepare and leave it in the fridge overnight
- Slice your spring onions and add them to the batter when you take it out of the fridge to start cooking
Cook bánh xèo filling
- Get the rest of the bánh xèo filling ingredients together (tofu, king oyster mushrooms, vegan pork, & beansprouts)
- Wash your beansprouts, drain and set aside
- Slice your king oyster mushrooms lengthways so that you have long thin slices of mushrooms, set aside
- Cut your tofu into loads of long thin slices, set aside
- Get your frying pan on to a high heat and pour in a splash of sesame oil
- Once the pan is hot, cook your beansprouts on a high heat. Move around regularly to stop them from burning and then once they have browned set them aside on a plate
- Repeat these steps with the tofu, mushrooms, and then the vegan pork. Make sure to cook them all separately as each ingredient may have different cooking times. Set aside on plates
Cook bánh xèo
- Wipe your frying pan with kitchen towel and then add in some more sesame oil and put the pan onto a medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot spread a 1/4 of the tofu strips, mushrooms, and the vegan pork in the frying pan. Cook for a minute and then pour in a ladleful of the bánh xèo batter to the pan
- Tilt the frying pan to move the batter evenly around the pan. You should start seeing the edges of the batter starting to thin out and crisp up
- Sprinkle a handful of the cooked beansprouts on to the batter and then put a lid on the pan. Cook on a medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the top of the pancake is cooked
- Take the lid off the pan and continue to cook the bánh xèo for about 4 minutes until you start seeing the bottom of the pancake has browned and gone nice and crispy
- Using a spatula, lift up one half of the bánh xèo from underneath and fold it in half. Move it onto a plate and continue cooking the rest of the mix in the same way.
- If you are making the exact recipe as shown above, tt should make about 4 pancakes (depending on the size of your pan)
- You can keep the cooked bánh xèo warm in a low heat oven whilst cooking the rest of the mix
Serve bánh xèo
- Serve up the cooked bánh xèo alongside some fresh herbs, a dipping sauce, and if you fancy, some spring roll wrappers
- Cut off chunks of the pancake and wrap it up into your fresh leaves and herbs and dip into your sauce. Alternatively, wet a spring roll wrapper and wrap everything inside and dip into your sauce