So here it is, my promised banh cuon report...
I know it's not sexy to start a post w/ a bunch of caveats or qualifiers, but in this case I must. A few things to keep in mind as you read this:
1. My mom doesn't use the traditional method of making banh cuon, which I believe uses a tightly draped cloth over a pan. The batter is poured over the fine mesh and what seeps through becomes the ever-so-thin, delicate rice "crepe." No, my mom likes to use her super-slippery, very American Teflon pan solely devoted to banh cuon. A girl doesn't need to apologize for shortcuts or adaptation. As a result, this crepe may have a slightly different texture than other versions.
2. My mom uses a fair amount of tapioca starch, as well as rice flour. The tapioca gives it more chew and spring, which some people like while others don't. If you like a more soft, tender crepe, then try reducing the tapioca. I'm going to experiment w/ ratios.
3. My mom usually doesn't adorn her banh cuon w/ much. No mint or cilantro or Viet bologna. Her nuoc cham is much lighter than I make or have in restaurants.
4. I haven't tested the below recipe since I made it w/ her. It's nice to test a recipe and see how amounts and steps unfold before sharing it publicly, but I'm hoping that some hounds will join me in testing it together. I know there's room for perfecting and shaping it towards one's tastes, so I hope this will inspire some of you to try it at home and let me know what you think!
So first the recipe and then a link to photos describing each step. I think the measurements are a little off, as we had more filling to batter and mom had to whip up a little more batter, but you'll be able to make the necessary adjustments. I thought having a photo link for each step would be cool, but that uploading would have taken forever, so click on the Kodak Gallery link below.
Carb Lover's Mom's Banh Cuon
2/3 c. yellow onion, diced
1.5 lbs. ground pork (not too lean)
2-3 TB fish sauce
1/2-3/4 c. rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, diced (reserve soaking liquid)
1/2 c. tree ear mushrooms, sliced
1/3 c. green onions, chopped
2 tsp. neutral oil
generous amount of oil
1/2 c. yellow onion, sliced
1/2 c. green onions, chopped
2 c. rice flour
2.5 c tapioca starch
5 c. water
2 TB neutral oil
For filling: Saute 1/3 c. of diced yellow onion in a little oil. Add ground pork, breaking up meat. Saute til browned and any liquid has evaporated. Season with fish sauce and liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add shiitake mushrooms and reserved soaking liquid (avoid grit). Saute til liquid has absorbed. Add wood ear mushrooms. Add green onions. Add remaining 1/3 c. diced yellow onion and saute til well incorporated and absorbed into the mix. Savory mixture should be relatively dry. Taste and reseason if necessary. Set aside.
For fried onion garnish: Fry dried onions or shallots in oil til brown and crispy. Be careful to not burn. Set aside.
For additional garnish: Saute sliced yellow and green onions in good amount of oil til caramelized and very soft. Separate oil from onions and set each aside.
For batter: Mix all ingredients and whisk til smooth and well blended.
To make banh cuon: Grease large plate w/ a little reserved onion-infused oil. Pre-heat approx. 10" Teflon (or other good nonstick) pan over medium heat. Ladle in about a half cup of batter, quickly swirl to evenly coat, and then quickly pour excess back into batter bowl. Don't invert for too long, as the crepe will fall out. (Happened on my first try.) Let sit undisturbed on heat for a few seconds to solidify. Edge will start to release itself. Little bubbles or holes are fine...
**Edit: Pan should be lightly greased w/ paper towel moistened w/ oil every now and then.
Invert onto plate using fingers in one swift motion. This takes some practice, but batter is cheap and easy to make. If you mess up, then save and eat w/ nuoc cham and pork filling on top. Add about a heaping TB of filling into crepe. Fold in the sides and roll. Place in oiled dish and brush on a little oil to each as you mound them. Finish w/ reserved onions, saving fried onions for table garnish. Once you practice and find your rhythm, you'll be able to get your next crepe on heat and roll while it's setting up. Would be fun w/ a partner. Repeat for each roll, lightly greasing plate beforehand.
Serve warm w/ your favorite nuoc cham and additional herbs. I normally like to dip each bite into nuoc cham instead of pouring over. Can be covered and stored in fridge for a few days. Warm in microwave. My mom has frozen some before, but it's not the same. Let me know if you have any questions or if there are inconsistencies in my recipe (I'm tired). Enjoy!
Step-by-step photo recipe:
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