Bánh xèo, Vietnamese savory pancake

3 years ago 11441

“Bánh xèo” (Vietnamese savory pancake) is a popular and favorite dish throughout Vietnam. It is made of rice flour, commonly stuffed with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts; and pan-fried into circle-shape or fold into half-circle-shape then. In Vietnamese, “bánh” means cake while “xèo” means sizzling. The cake is literally named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the flour mixture is poured into a hot pan. 

 The cake "bánh xèo" is literally named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the flour mixture is poured into a hot pan. 

In general, there are two common types of “bánh xèo”: crispy cake and sticky cake. The secret is on the flour mixture. Some revealed that rice flour was made from millstone (traditional method) would create more delicious pancakes comparing to packed rice flour on supermarkets. Others shared that adding a little amount of beer into the mixture would help cakes lasting crispy longer.


Millstone was used popularly to grind rice into flour years ago.

In certain area, “bánh xèo” has different characteristics. However, there is still no certain prove of its origin. Hue people believe “bánh xèo” is a version of their famous specialty called of “Bánh khoái”, a small pan-fried cake filled with pork, shrimp, mushroom and bean sprouts and served with a very special sauce made of pig liver, fermented soy sauce and minced pork.

 "Bánh khoái" or "Bánh xèo" in Hue'style.

Some believe the hometown of “bánh xèo” is from the Mid-Central Vietnam (such as Binh Dinh, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam Provice) before arriving Hue then transforming into “bánh khoái”. Savory pancakes from this region have plate-size. Eaters roll pieces of pancakes onto rice papers (“bánh tráng”) and enjoy the dish with mixed fish sauce.

 Fresh shrimp savory pancakes from Binh Dinh ("Bánh xèo tôm nhảy Bình Định")

Moving farther to the South Central, “bánh xèo” is cooked on clay molds and filled with seafood such as shrimp or cutter-fish. The flour mixture may add eggs to create more delicious flavor and nicer color. Served sauces are variety with more choices: mixed peanut sauce (“nước mắm đậu phộng”), mixed tomato sauce (“nước mắm cà chua”) and mixed fermented fish sauce (“mắm nêm”).

 "Bánh xèo" is cooked on clay moulds.

These cakes here are characterized with seafood filling.

In the areas from Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Can Tho (South Western Vietnam), “bánh xèo” is fried in a big cast iron pan. It is known as the biggest size version of “bánh xèo” in Viettnam. Besides eggs, cooks add a little turmeric powder into the flour mixture to create beautiful color of yellow. As famous as coconuts land, people in the South Western also add coconut milk into the mixture to deliver extra taste for the special dish. Instead of rice papers, pieces of pancakes are rolled onto mustard greens’ leaves and served with sweet and sour mixed fish sauce.

 “Bánh xèo” in the Southern is fried in a big cast iron pan.

Having "bánh xèo" with sweet and sour mixed sauce.

“Bánh xèo” also can be found in the North Vietnam. But for the flour mixture, people don’t add coconut milk so the cake can last crispy even when it get cold.

Another version of "bánh xèo" from the North.

Diverse vegetables to eat with “bánh xèo” are also the highlights of the dish. Local people usually make use of popular vegetables or plants’ leaves in their areas.  Especially in the Central Vietnam, besides vegetables, there are also the combination with green figs and sour star fruits. 


Vegetables to eat with “bánh xèo” help to balance flavors in the dish.

The cake tastes best when it's is still hot. Vietnamese usually have “bánh xèo” in family getting together occasions as main dish in which members can share and enjoy it together. It is especially ideal for gathering meeting in rainy days.

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Did you know?

Mid-Autumn Festival is considered as the festival for children in Vietnam. This year, it will be held on 27th September