Vietnamese cuisine is a real melting pot of flavours. It's heavily influenced by the French who occupied the country during the 19th Century so you'll see ingredients like French baguettes and pate commonly being eaten. Mix those up with more traditional South East Asian ingredients like noodles, chilli and coconut, add in wonderfully fragrant herbs and you have something remarkable. Vietnamese food is about fine-tuning your tasting skills to balance out sweet, sour, salty, umami, bitter and hot flavours. It's also about combining perfect textures, crunchy vegetables and silky meat or fish to create the perfect harmony of taste.
This recipe hopefully will achieve plenty of this, it's a classic street food favourite and as well as making the different elements, it's important to know how to eat this dish. Essentially, you tear a piece of the crepe away and place it on a large lettuce leaf, add in plenty of fresh herbs, roll everything up and dip it into the Nuoc Cham. The result is heavenly, it's no wonder this is a street food classic.
Nuoc Cham is a Vietnamese dipping sauce that is used in loads of dishes, it's a mix of palm sugar, water, vinegar, lime juice, chilli and garlic. It's a thin, liquid that's packed full of flavour and is a great seasoning for noodle salads, summer rolls and rice dishes as well.
There are quite a few ingredients here, but many of them are general store-cupboard items, but it's well worth making sure you have fresh mint and beansprouts as they make a big difference.
The actual crepe recipe is gluten free, diary free and vegan, you can easily interchange the filling ingredients with other items such as chicken, beef, tofu, mushrooms, red pepper, lots of items would also work well.
For the Crêpe filling 4 Spring Onions, finely sliced 2 Shallots, finely sliced 200g Pork Belly, thinly sliced 225g Prawns, raw is best but cooked will still be OK 300g Beansprouts Salt & Pepper A splash of Fussels Rapeseed Oil
For the Salad Large lettuce leave like Romaine or Cos Fresh Coriander Fresh Mint Fresh Basil (Thai Sweet Basil would be best) Fresh Chives
For the dipping sauce 3tbsps Palm Sugar, chopped into small pieces 4tbsps Hot Water 2tbsps Rice Vinegar 2tbsps Fish Sauce 2tbsps Fresh Lime Juice 2 Garlic Cloves 1-2 Red Chillies, finely diced
1. Start by making the dipping sauce. Chop the palm sugar into small pieces and dissolve in the hot water. Leave for a few minutes.
2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and set aside until ready.
3. To make the crepe batter, mix the rice flour with the turmeric, salt and sugar. Whisk in the coconut milk, followed by the cold water.
4. Season the pork belly with salt and pepper and in a hot pan fry the thin strips. Keep cooking until they are nicely browned and slightly crispy.
5. Turn the heat down slightly and add in the sliced shallot. Cook for a minute before adding in the prawns and the spring onion. Once the prawns are just cooked through, turn the heat off and set aside.
6. Just before you cook the crepes, prepare the leaves and herbs into a big bowl so that everyone can help themselves at the table.
7. To cook the crepes, heat your pan to a medium to high heat and add in a good splash of oil. Ladle in the batter, tipping the pan round so that it covers the whole base. Keep cooking on a high heat for a minute or so, the crepe should end up being crispy, so you need the heat. Once the top starts to cook through, scatter over some of the cooked pork and prawn mix, plus a handful of the beansprouts. Keep cooking for another minute so that you have a nice crispy base. Using a spatula, gently release the edges of the crepe away from the pan before sliding it out onto your serving plate and flipping one half over the other.
8. To eat, tear away a piece of the crepe and filling and place into a lettuce leaf. Add in your choice of herbs and then roll the lettuce up, dip into the Nuoc Cham and eat. The Vietnamese like to get stuck into their eating, they have an expression "an choi", which means "to eat playfully", so have a napkin at hand and be prepared to get a little messy. Enjoy.
Have you tried this recipe yet? Tell us about it...
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Also in Ben's inspiring recipes and simple 'how to cook' videos...
Nasi Goreng might sound exotic, but foodies this is one of THE BEST dishes for using up all those random odds and ends lurking in the depths of your fridge - especially if you have some leftover cold rice too. The secret weapon here is kecap manis, it's a wonderfully sweet and savoury Indonesian soy sauce that tastes amazing, it's the perfect seasoning for the rice and brings all the flavours together perfectly.
There are times when a comforting bowl of pasta is all that's needed and I cook this regularly because it's so simple and tasty.It's almost a complete 'store cupboard' meal that you can throw together with minimal fuss. Fusilli pasta is my shape of choice for this dish, using a great quality pasta such as our Armando range, makes a noticeable difference.
In a Japanese ramen bar, the menu is divided into three main categories. This recipe is for a 'Shoyu' (soy) ramen - because soy is used to season the broth. The two other types are Miso ramen, which uses miso as the seasoning and Shio ramen that uses salt. Shoyu ramen is the most popular in Japan and there are loads of variations.
Well well, I appear to have cultivated a cinnamon bun habit...
..& I don’t mind one bit.
We now have a weekly rolling order of 4 cinnamon buns. Fairly often there's only two in the box when we get home though.. Love them with a cup of tea, & as the weather turns we’ve been warming them in the oven - upside down, so that they don’t give up their gooey goodness to the baking tray.