Banh Cuon Recipes

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Banh Uot Cha Lua Chay (Vegetarian Vietnamese Rice Noodles) Recipe

This vegetarian dish is Cậu Hoà's (my uncle) favorite. Since we live near San Jose, I'm fortunate to be able to find ready-made bánh ướt. It literally translates to "wet cakes". They're sheets of rice and tapioca noodles. The assembly of the dish, after steaming the rice noodle sheets, is ultra simple. 

I accompanied the rice noodles with Vietnamese tofu ham called chả lụa chay (you can find the recipe in my second cookbook, Banh Mi.) I also added fried tofu, steamed bean sprouts, fried shallots, cucumber and a wide array of Vietnamese herbs. The vegetarian dish is then "watered" with nước mắm chay. I just discovered vegetarian nuoc mam made of pineapple juice, which is similar to but less pungent than real fish sauce. 


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Banh Cuon Recipe (Steamed Rice Rolls) Recipe

Bánh cuốn is a Vietnamese specialty made with a very thin, steamed, loosely rolled, rice flour crêpe. The recipe is not that complicated but assembling the rice rolls can be delicate. Unlike French crêpe, the batter is made from combined rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch, which makes bánh cuốn very flimsy and harder to manipulate. The first rice flour crêpe is never perfect, and I usually thin the batter with more water as I cook them, so they don't turn out too thick. The filling remains exposed since the rice roll is nearly transparent.

This time, I made a meat version with chicken. You could always make the rice flour crêpe with a vegetarian filling if you prefer. I tucked into each rice roll a filling of seasoned ground meat (I used chicken), wood ear mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water  chestnuts and dried shallots. Typically, bánh cuốn is sprinkled with fried shallots (or onions) with nước chấm (fish sauce). I served shrimp cakes and fried taro cakes on the side along with mounds of steamed soy bean sprouts, combined with cilantro, Vietnamese mint (rau thơm), shredded cucumber, lettuce, lime wedges and green Thai chiles.

It's not the prettiest meal, but it's a flavorful, earthy (thanks to the mushrooms), light meal dish. If you want to improve the presentation and avoid tearing, drizzle the rice roll with a little oil and expose the smooth part of the bánh cuốn on top to hide the wrinkly side.


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