Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bánh Cuốn

Banh Cuon

This is my favorite childhood dish prepared by my mom. It's a dish originating in Northern Vietnam consisting of a rice flour crepe-like wrapping filled with pork and mushrooms. She made this very rarely because it is quite a bit of labor. And that's an understatement.

I remember as a teenager I would ask my mom to prepare it and she would let out a big sigh knowing that she would be slaving in the kitchen preparing it. At that point, she taught me how to make it myself and I soon became the go-to kid that the relatives would ask to prepare dinner when we visited family. I became the manufacturing guru of Banh Cuon.

Preparing the ingredients is a cinch.  Assembling them is a bit tedious because you're working with burning hot cooked rice flour. And the hardest part? Flipping the cooked rice wrap onto a plate without it folding over on itself. There are many ways to get around it like steaming or baking and I searched for some videos to help me explain the process. And what do you know, I found a great one. She makes this look so easy.

Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon

When I was in college, I remember craving this but not having the time to dedicate to individually wrapping each one, so I made up this "Banh Cuon Lasagna" which basically layered the wrap and filling so I could cut out a piece when I wanted to eat. Tasted the same, looked really ugly. Oh well, gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon

I've modified this recipe to use ground turkey instead of ground pork because I'm tired of pork (we've had it for 3 days straight). And of course, to save myself some time I left out some ingredients that aren't essential but I made up for that time by wrapping these thing nice and pretty instead of rolling them like you see at restaurants. Because I'm all about presentation.


Ground Turkey
Wood Ear Fungus -- That sounds disgusting, doesn't it? It's Black Mushrooms.
Soy sauce, pepper to taste

Buy it from the store already mixed, or you can make it with rice flour, water, salt and oil

Dipping Sauce, Nước chấm (0.25:1:1:1:2)
Red Chili Paste
Lime Juice/Vinegar
Fish Sauce

Reconstitute mushrooms (they come packaged dry). Dice onion, carrots, garlic and sweat in a wok/pot. Add turkey and season with soy sauce and pepper. Add mushrooms and cook until turkey is done.

For wrapping, ladle flour/water mix into hot oiled non-stick pan and circle your pan a bit to achieve a thin even coat. Cover and cook for a couple seconds. Uncover and I shake the pan a bit to ensure the wrapping is dislodged from the bottom. I flip it over onto a plate so that the side cooking on the pan is facing up (that's the sticky side that you want to stay on the inside of the wrap).  I re-oil the pan and then ladle the mix again and cover. While that cooks I fill the wrapping with filling and fold in the sides and then the top/bottom. Turn over, move to a plate, and repeat.

I use one package of the rice flour mix, 1 lb of ground turkey, and a 8" pan. It makes 18 (but 17 usable ones because the first always ends up bad). Will easily feed 4.

If you have more time, fry some onions and top it with that. The charred and sweet yumminess will go along so nicely with this dish. I didn't have time, so I just topped with lettuce and "dipping" sauce.

This is guaranteed to be a crowd -pleaser.  Though I have tried to teach my friends a few times and they have all been epic fails. It's the flipping the wrapping onto the plate that's the more difficult. All those times we ended up eating balled up wrapping topped with the filling and drenched with dipping sauce. Still good. Kind of like my Banh Cuon "Lasagna".

1 comment:

  1. I love all these food postings! Looks just like my mom made them. :)