You already know about banh mi, pho, and Vietnamese coffee, but the Vietnamese-style crepe, banh xeo, hasn't gotten quite as much attention as it should. Light and crispy and full of fresh, bright flavors, it could stand alone as a quick, light dinner -- or could be the opening act for a multi-course international dinner. It's the ideal hors d'oeuvre: interesting enough to wake up your palate, but light enough to keep you from feeling full. It's also great if your friends, like mine, have lots of different dietary restrictions: these crepes are vegan (if you swap soy sauce for fish sauce), gluten-free, corn-free, etc., etc. Everyone wins!
To serve them as an hors d'oeuvre, wrap them tightly and cut each one in half to be eaten as finger food. Alternatively, you could make mini crepes just 4 or 5 inches across, though that would take a defter hand than mine. I also recommend serving it in the traditional Vietnamese way: wrap each piece with a leaf of mustard greens, a frilly-leafed lettuce, or other attractive green big enough to cover the whole thing. —vrunka
Crepes and fillings
coconut milk (shake the can very well before opening to combine milk and cream)
canola, safflower or other mild oil, divided
cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced into sticks
red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
fresh basil leaves (preferably sweet Thai, but Italian is fine), shredded
fresh cilantro leaves, shredded
fresh mint leaves, shredded
fish sauce (or soy sauce)
fresh lime juice
siracha sauce (or minced fresh hot chili peppers for more heat)
In This Recipe
In a bowl (or better yet a large measuring cup with a pouring spout), whisk together the rice flour, turmeric and salt, then whisk in the coconut milk and water. Cover and refrigerate for at least a half an hour or as long as overnight.
While the batter is resting, make the dipping sauce. Whisk together all the ingredients until smooth.
Heat a large crepe pan (or shallow skillet) over medium heat. Swirl enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, pour in enough batter to just barely cover the surface of the pan (about 1/4 cup). Let it sit undisturbed for 2 minutes then slowly start to lift up the edges with a spatula. The crepe is done when the center is no longer liquid, about another minute. Slide the whole crepe onto a plate and repeat the process for the rest of the batter.
In a large bowl combine all the veggies and herbs. Top each crepe with some of this mixture.
These are meant to be served at room temperature so don't worry about keeping the crepes warm. This should make about 8 crepes total.