Saturday, 23 November 2013

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancakes)

Oh my goodness, these last few days have been the most amazing summer conditions! It's been a great weekend…playdate yesterday morning with wonderful friends, a relatives 2 year old birthday party yesterday afternoon, takeaways on the deck in the sunshine last night, swimming for the whole family this morning, a wonderful girls lunch in the sun for me today, and the kids are at the Santa Parade with hubby so I am home alone!! I just spent half an hour sitting out in the fresh air topping up vitamin D levels and getting stuck into the most wonderful trashy chick-lit book…cannot remember the last time that happened. A guilty pleasure! Felt it was about time I did some work though…the quiet time will be over soon and I'll feel bad for not having achieved anything!

Friday night was another one of those hot sticky evenings, so I decided a nice light meal full of fresh flavors was going to be in order. I am a huge fan of Vietnamese food (as anyone who has read a few pages of this blog will probably realize!) and really love the crispy vietnamese pancakes that a filled with yummy fresh, vibrant vegetables and herbs. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free and sugar free, this meal is packed with protein, nutrients, vitamins and minerals and is sure to please kids and adults alone. The novelty of having a pancake for dinner keeps the kids interested, and as always you can adapt it by leaving out the chilli and any vegetables that they are no keen on and customize the meal to suit their needs.

I firmly believe in cooking one meal for the whole family, as I think that family dinner times are a really important way for the family to regroup at the end of the day and share everything that has happened. Obviously this is not always possible for every family, but we are lucky enough that hubby is home at 6pm and like any good housewife I have dinner ready on the table when he gets home!!! hahahah :) (just for the record I am not really the housewife type, it just works best for us to have our evenings work out that way, and hubby is really not the cooking type! His areas of speciality are more tech and outdoors - mowing the lawns, fixing the cars and keeping the TV/computers/audio systems running smoothly!).

Because of the one meal policy, I do sometimes have to make slight modifications in the meals along the way. I want the kids to experience eating a range of foods, flavors, textures and obviously get a full range of nutrients, however there are limits to what a 2 and 4 year old will willingly try or enjoy. So, as an example, where I put chilli in a meal I will often add it in at the end after I have dished up the kids plates so they are still eating the same meal without the spice, or in the case of a curry I will make it very mild, serve theirs up and then add more curry paste or chilli to ours. With vegetables, I will usually just plate the kids up everything then either remove the veges I know they just won't go near (mushrooms and obvious onions are pretty much no go), or I leave all the veges on the plate and ask the kids to just leave the ones they don't want to eat to the side. We do have one rule, which is that if there is a new food you have to at least give it a try before you say you don't like it. They only have to take one small bite, but I am just trying to encourage a willingness to at least give it a go. Sometimes they spit it out which is fine, but other times they are pleasantly surprised.

So, the point of this is that the kids really love eating some of these different foods, especially a meal like this one which is packaged a little differently - all wrapped up in a pancake! Please don't be put off by the long list in the recipe - their meal really is very quick and easy to make.

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancakes)

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free


Omelette (this makes 2 large or 4 small pancakes)
6 eggs
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp tapioca starch (optional, just makes the pancake a little more crispy)
2 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt

600g uncooked prawns, shelled and deveined
2 pork schnitzel slices, thinly sliced (not the crumbed ones!) - optional. The meal can be meat free if preferred
2 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
2 cm chunk of fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice of half a lemon or lime
1 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

1 large spring onion, finely sliced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
6 portabello mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice)
1 cup kale or spinach, roughly chopped or torn
1/2 red capsicum , thinly sliced
1 large shallot or half an onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil


1. In a large bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, salt, fish sauce, lemon juice and chilli. Add the prawns and pork. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. (you can cook straight away, but marinading it just develops the flavors really nicely).
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, shallots, capsicum and kale. Cook for a few minutes until vegetables are softened.
3. Add prawns and pork. Cook until prawns have turned red and pork is cooked through. Remove from heat.
4. Add half the mung beans and half the spring onions and stir into the mixture.

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well.
2. Heat half the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
3. Add half the egg mix and swirl around pan to create an even coating
4. Cook for one minute (or until starting to bubble and egg is mostly all cooked). Flip and cook for another 30seconds to a minute on the other side. Pancake should be gently crisped and golden brown.
5. Repeat process with the other half of the mixture.

To plate:
Put one omelette on a large plate. Top with prawn mixture, then add a handful of fresh mung beans. Fold omelette over, top with the rest of the spring onions and drizzle with Nuoc Cham (vietnamese dipping sauce - see notes below). Serve with coleslaw (see notes below), fresh salad or vegetables of your choice.


My coleslaw was made of shredded cabbage, shredded lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber cut into matchsticks, roughly chopped tomato a tbsp of fish sauce, a tbsp lemon juice and a handful each of fresh mint and fresh coriander. You can use whatever quantities you like and add any ingredients you like.

Nuoc Cham is a very simple little dipping sauce. I eyeball the quantities a bit but I think the one I made had roughly 2 tbsp fish sauce, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp water and 1/2 a red chilli finely diced. Put all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. You can add a little honey (about 1/2 tsp) if you like the sweet element, but I prefer it without.