Homemade Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp)

Homemade Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp) Recipe

Bánh bèo is a Vietnamese specialty made with individual, thick, steamed rice cakes. The recipe is not that complicated but preparing each rice cake can be time-consuming. The batter is made from combined rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch. I used tiny, one-ounce porcelain dipping bowls to steam the rice cakes. Once they were cooked, I brushed them with onion-flavored oil to prevent them from sticking to each other. Little Aria helped with brushing the rices cakes with oil while I unmolded them; it made the preparation all the more fun to have her around, getting her hands dirty. 

The second step is the filling, which is traditionally made with dried shrimp flakes, fried shallots and green onions. You could make a vegetarian version using mung beans. Lastly, a drizzle of nước chấm (fish sauce) and chopped Vietnamese mint (rau thơm) complete the festive dish.

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

8 shallots, thinly sliced
8 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 green onions, green part only
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1½ cups rice flour
6 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons corn starch
2¾ cups lukewarm water, as needed
1 teaspoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups mung beans, cooked
¼ dried shrimp
1 cup Vietnamese mint (rau thơm), snipped
1½ cups nước chấm

Directions

The day before:

Soak the shrimp overnight, changing the water and rinsing the shrimp often. 


The following day:

Rinse the shrimp and grind it into a fine powder in a food processor. 


Making bánh beo batter: In a bowl, whisk the 3 flours together with the water. Season with ½ teaspoon salt. Stir well; make sure there are no lumps. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Let sit for 2-3 hours at room temperature.


Assembly:

Fill a large pot (that accommodates a steamer) with cold water until it barely touches the steamer level. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. 

Fill 1-ounce ramekins (I used nuoc mam dipping bowls) with the rice batter. Place the ramekins in the steamer and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture is flimsy and soft and the texture is chewy. 

Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, fry (separately) the shallots, garlic and green onions, reserving the oil for brushing the rice cakes later.

Remove the ramekins and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Unmold, transfer to a serving platter and brush the rice cakes with the reserved fragrant oil. Repeat the same procedure until all the batter is finished.

Combine the mung beans, fried shallots and green onions. Mix well.

Using a silicone brush, coat the rice cakes with thin layer of oil.

To the same pan, add the shrimp and fried garlic. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until the mixture resembles dried flakes.

Top each rice cakes with the mung bean mixture, then the dried shrimp.  

When ready to serve, ddrizzle with nước chấm sauce. Sprinkle with greens for a bright contrast in color.

Bon appétit!


Tips

This recipe yields about 40 rice cakes. I usually count 5 per person.

Dried shrimp (tôm khô in Vietnamese) add a unique salty taste to the dish. This ingredient is very common in Vietnamese cuisine. I sometimes add some to fried rice but when cooked, the taste is very different.

You can buy rice flour at the store but I prefer grinding my own, so I know all the nutrients are preserved. I use the Nutrimill brand mill. If you cook a lot, this machine would be very useful to make any kind of flour.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on April 1, 2015.


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