Thursday, September 24, 2015

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Nutella Smile


It is officially autumn but it sure is still hot in Southern California. Yesterday it was mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit and the news says that it will be hotter these next few days. It will be nice when the cool fall weather kicks in.

Southern California Sunset

In its fourth year of drought, California has been cutting back on water, making various efforts to reduce water loss and waste, and has successfully reduced water use by more than 30%, which is about 5% above what the government was hoping for. Despite almonds getting a bad rap for water use in California, California still manages to churn out a good deal of produce.

Luckily, just last week, there was some torrential downpour which broke the drought but caused some damaging flooding in various areas. There was some hope that there was going to be rainfall earlier this week, but the clouds ended up just passing by my area with no rainfall.

Although it's been hot lately, I still want to bake and that requires turning on the oven. It's a small price to pay, though, when the reward is something scrumptious! My mom and I have been buying lots of bananas because my sister and her boyfriend take so many when they go surfing. We buy a bushel and then half are gone by the end of the week! This time, we bought too many, and boy-oh-boy was I happy. Because you know what brown bananas mean?

Banana bread!

I had this recipe I used before that merged America's Test Kitchen's banana bread recipe with Giada's recipe. I made it twice but they were too moist and lacked structure. Although adding more bananas increases sweetness and moistness of the final product, too much made it mushy. Therefore, I sought to make a better banana bread. Serious Eats has become one of my top go-to sites for food recipes. I trust their recipes because of the expertise and creativity of its contributors. When I found this Banana Oatmeal Bread recipe on their site and read that a pastry chef, Anna Markow, created it, I knew it must be a good recipe. As a healthy baker, I could tell that although this was a dessert, the ingredients were not so bad for you and I could feel good making and eating a lot of this.

In place of the rolled oats, I used Coach's Oats Steel-Cut Oats that I pulverized in my spice/coffee grinder. Also, I had some Nutella leftover and I wanted to use it up because it has been in my pantry for so long, so I mixed it with a small portion of batter and added that to the middle of the pan. On top, I put sliced bananas and some mini chocolate chips for presentation value. The final result was spectacular. My sister and her boyfriend really enjoyed it. I had to stop myself from eating too many slices myself so that I could share with my family!

Hope you try this recipe as it is a slight change on the classic banana bread recipe with a few improvements that make it nearly irresistible.

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Nutella Smile (adapted from Serious Eats)
makes 1 9" by 5" loaf 
1 cup white whole wheat flour (recommend Ultragrain(R))
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, slightly packed into the cup
1/2 cup rolled oats (or steel cut oats pulverized into almost flour texture)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 medium, ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup of buttermilk (or a little less than 1/3 cup of whole milk with 1-2 Tbs fresh lime or lemon juice, set aside to curdle for 5 minutes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs Nutella
For topping (optional):
1/2 banana sliced in thin rounds
A few chocolate chips

1) Sift the white whole wheat flour, the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the white sugar, brown sugar, and rolled oats.
2) In a blender, blend the bananas, eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until well-mixed, but do not over-blend or you will incorporate too much air.
3) Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold/mix together until just combined.
4) Prepare a 9x5" loaf pan by lightly greasing and flouring. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (if you oven tends to output higher temperature or tends to brown things too quickly, try reducing the temperature to 325-340 degrees Fahrenheit).
5) In a small bow, mix 2 Tbs Nutella with about 1/2 cup of the batter.
6) Pour half of the original batter into the pan, then spread the Nutella batter in the center. Pour the remaining original batter and spread evenly in the pan.
7) Place the banana slices and chocolate chips as desired on top of the bread.
8) Bake in the preheated oven for 28 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Make sure to watch it in the last 10 minutes because mine browned quick a bit and I had to remove it after about 46-48 minutes of baking.
9) Immediately remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack for about 30-60 minutes before slicing and serving.

Note: Loaf lasts at least 4 days without refrigeration in Southern California summer weather. If you live in a humid, hot area, I suggest refrigerating by the 3rd or 4th day.

Smile! Happiness can come from food! :D

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut Bread

I've been sooo lazy to post. Honest, I have been cooking and baking a lot, but nothing too spectacular to warrant a blog post. Well, I guess, one thing that I enjoyed was that, earlier this week, I made some homemade black bean veggie enchiladas with homemade roasted tomato serrano sauce. It was good and fed me throughout the week. The recipe for the roasted tomato salsa is from Once Upon a Chef (found here). I am now amazed at how easy it is to make roasted salsas at home. By simply broiling tomatoes, onions, garlic, and serranos for 10-20 minutes, then blending them with oregano, cumin, salt, and fresh lime juice, you come out with this tasty sauce you can add to various Mexican dishes to perk up the flavor. Alas, I had no cilantro, which really would have given the sauce the extra fresh flavor it needed. This will be a go-to recipe for a different salsa than the normal pico de gallo.

Today, I was shuttered up in the house for most of the day because it was raining all day here in Houston. Houston is like that. One day will be bright and sunny and beautiful (i.e., yesterday, the first day of spring), and the next is freezing and it's raining cats and dogs! Okay, so the rain was not so terrible. It let up now and then, but still put a damper on my usual morning walk with my dog. Being stuck in the house, all I could do was cook or bake. So after fixing myself a nice breakfast taco (I have learned to make scrambled eggs by cooking over low heat rather than medium high. My breakfasts have been transformed with soft silky eggs now instead of dry crunchy eggs!), I set to making a bread that has wow'ed me since I first tried it out.

Red Star Yeast posted this recipe for Oatmeal Walnut Bread and I made it some months ago. It was so fantastic I had to write a note on the recipe that it was really good so I would remember. Now, this is my go-to bread. But I must admit I never seem to make it the same. First time, I used just honey and maple syrup instead of molasses and pecans instead of walnuts, because that is what I had. This time, I used 2 Tbs of molasses and 1 Tbs of honey and added walnuts and cranberries. This bread gets better each time I think.

The reason I added walnuts AND cranberries is because the HEB (huge Texas grocery chain) bakeries make this fantastic cranberry pistachio bread. It is one of their best. They also do a cranberry walnut bread. These are baked in artisan-looking loaves and run about $4.99. HEB knows these breads are good and generally never put them on sale. I wanted to replicate that delicious bread but with a recipe I was familiar with. Additionally, I wanted a healthy spin. This Oatmeal Walnut Bread lends naturally to those requirements.

I was pleased with the result. I admit I am still uncertain about my hand-kneading technique but I think the crumb came out well. The crumb was a bit dense from the whole wheat and mix-ins, but you can still see the airy micro-structure and the gluten development, which allowed for a sturdy loaf that doesn't fall apart too easily when you cut or tear it. The instructions listed below are for how I made it this time around (rainy day, humid Houston, 65-75 degree outside temperature).

Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut Bread
One 9x5" loaf
1+1/4 cup of bread flour + more for kneading
1 sachet (2+1/4 tsp) of Platinum Red Star Yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
2 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs vegetable/canola oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup instant plain rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed or chopped
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
Half an egg and some more plain rolled oats for topping

Special equipment
Thermometer that reads up to 130 deg Fahrenheit
9x5" loaf pan


  1. Mix the 1+1/4 cup of bread flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium sized microwaveable bowl, add 1 cup water, 2 Tbs molasses, 1 Tbs honey, and 2 Tbs. Microwave for over 1 minute 30 seconds until a thermometer, when inserted, reads 120 to 130 deg Fahrenheit. 
  3. Pour the still warm liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until dry bits are incorporated.
  4. Add in the 1 cup whole wheat flour slowly until you reach a dough ball that pulls away from the sides, stays together, but don't make it too dry.
  5. Mix in the crushed walnuts and cranberries.
  6. Now turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-8 minutes until the dough is supple and elastic. Add extra bread flour a tablespoon at a time if needed to work the dough. The dough may still be a little sticky but do not add more just to prevent all stickiness. Adding too much dough will make your bread dense and taste like cardboard wheat.
  7. Lightly grease a large bowl. Roll the dough into a ball, brush a little oil on top, and then place into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and leave for 30 minutes. 
  8. The dough will have almost doubled in size. Lightly punch down the dough, expelling excess air and redistributing the yeast. Knead and stretch the dough into about a 7" x 14" rectangle. Roll the rectangle up along the long end so you end up with a log about the size of the loaf pan. Pinch the seals closed.
  9. Lightly grease the bottom and lower sides of the loaf pan. Sprinkle with flour or cornmeal. Place the rolled dough seam-side down into the pan, cover, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
  10. Before the last 10 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit. Place a pan filled partway with water inside to create steam. Mix half an egg with water and brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash. Sprinkle the remaining rolled oats on top and press lightly to make them stick.
  11. Once the oven has finished preheating, put the loaf in the middle rack of the oven (keep the water pan inside) and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If the top is browning too quickly near the end, remove the loaf, cover the top with foil and return to the oven to finish baking.
  12. When finished baking, remove the loaf and let cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and let cool on a rack.
The bread was so good eaten fresh out of the oven. It was even better when it cooled down further and even better better when I made a roast turkey sandwich with it. I really should have taken a picture of my sandwich. Fresh avocado, smoked gouda, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, and turkey deli slices that I heated in the toaster. It was a fantastic sandwich. 

Hope you enjoy this bread as much as I did! Oh, and if you have tips on kneading bread dough, I would love to hear your advice. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

King Cake for Fat Tuesday

I've seen King Cake circulating around Mardi Gras time for several years now. I've never had it before and it looked very festive with all the colorful sprinkles on top. The tradition of hiding a little baby Jesus inside the cake always make me laugh. Whoever receives the slice with Baby Jesus inside has to bring the cake next year, but then I also heard how Baby Jesus is sometimes replaced by a little bean or candy bean because people would choke on him.
It being Fat Tuesday, I wanted to try King Cake. Like I do, I decide to make it even before I have tried the real thing from stores (but really, can the grocery store in Texas make as authentic a cake as something homemade?). I used the recipe for Quick King Cake from Betty Crocker and proceeded to make it last night while also eating dinner, playing with my dog, and prepping a huge pot of beans. It was quite a busy night.

So, in making this recipe, I found out what a King Cake really is. It is basically a sweet brioche (eggy, buttery bread) dough with a buttery cinnamon sugar filling, twisted or braided into a circle. Other filling are possible such as pecans instead of just cinnamon sugar. Then, the "cake" is topped with icing and sprinkled with the typical Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and yellow. Once completely cooled, Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Sadly, Baby Jesus is not with me and I could not hide him inside.

In making this dough, I thought it was interesting that the butter is added after combining the dry ingredients with the eggs, milk, and vanilla. The addition of the butter made the dough very easy to handle. I did everything by hand, all the mixing, kneading, shaping, so the ease of handling was a godsend. I did add some flour after the full 3-1/2 cups of flour were added because the dough was too sticky. I let it sit in the fridge for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When I came back, it had risen nicely.

I prepared the filling with only half the butter because I ran out but it was still enough, I think. I rolled the dough out to the specified size, spread the filling in (a little sparse), folded in half and then made a mistake. I wanted to incorporate the filling more and didn't think that cutting the strip into three would allow me to make a big ring. So I tried rolling it out to cut it into three strips lengthwise but that wasn't working. I ended up cutting it into three short strips, found that i couldn't braid that long enough, and ended up just trying to put the three strips back together to form a long ring. I twisted to the dough to give it that nice look. The ends didn't really seal but it kind of worked.
I let it rise for about 1-1/2 hours and then baked it for 25 minutes. The filling was spilling out because the way i twisted the dough created many openings. The filling became delicious sweet brown sugar caramel on the pan. Delicious mistake, but not one I want to make again.

After letting it cool overnight, I frosted it with cream cheese icing and dusted it with food glitter. Not the prettiest, but it sure is soooo tasty. It's like a giant cinnamon roll but better. The brioche dough is light, fluffy, buttery, a bit sweet. Biting into the filling or the caramelized sugar coating the bottom gives you that punch of more sweetness.
No wonder they eat this on Fat Tuesday. Yayyyy fat and sugar!

Overall, the recipe was not too difficult except for my misunderstanding of the shaping part.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pear pecan pie

One thing that I've started baking and has never failed me is an apple pecan pie. I like apple pie but it can be a little boring just eating apples in buttery crust. I like the top part of the pecan pie but don't like the usual thick layer of corn syrup filling beneath. To make a healthier, more dynamic and delicious pie, I thought about combining the two! The first time I made it, I loosely based it on this recipe and used a pre-made pie crust. It came out so well, I was surprised! Using pre-made crusts makes pie-making a breeze!

For Thanksgiving this year, I made it again, but did not have enough apples to fill my 9.5" pie pan! So I had to add this pecan oat crumble and maple whipped cream.

For Christmas, my mom bought a lot of pears so I made my signature apple pecan pie but with the pears! Used bartlett pears that are still slightly crisp, not too ripe or soft, instead of apples. For the pear pecan pie, I used a few different recipes for reference but here's the basic gist:

Pear Pecan Pie
1 refrigerated roll of pie crust for 9" pie, unbaked
3 medium/large bartlett pears, peeled and cored, then cut into thin slices
1/3 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 to 1/3 extra juicy lime or lemon

Streusal Topping:
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
2-3 Tbs butter, softened
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup light  brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Combine pears with juice of the lime, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, light brown sugar, and flour.
  2. Line a 9" pie pan with the pie crust. Crimp crust. Prick crust a few times with a fork and bake in an oven at 350 deg Fahrenheit for 8 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the streusal topping: Combine all the ingredients for the streusal topping in a medium bowl using your hands, forks, or whatever you need to make it a uniform crumble.
  4. Fill the baked pie crust with the pear filling. You may align the pear slices in a pretty circle.
  5. Top the pie with the streusal. 
  6. Cover the crust of the pie with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield
  7. Bake about 40-45 minutes until just browned on top of the pie. 
  8. Let cool. Slice and serve with fresh whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coffee Muffins with Mocha Glaze

I have been craving coffee flavored sweets lately. Now, I am not one to go buy a frappuccino and I am also not one to make some coffee and put more than 2 teaspoons of sugar into it, but I really felt that some coffee-flavored cake or bread or muffin would be fantastic. The idea is not prominent in the baking world. Search "coffee cake" or even "coffee-flavored cake" and you mostly end up with coffee cake. Coffee cake to me does not deserve to be called that unless it's coffee-flavored! Also, I think coffee cake is way too sweet for breakfast, maybe even more oily and sweet than donuts. But I suppose that is why you eat it with coffee, because the bitter coffee will become palatable due to the lingering sweetness of the coffee cake (and vice versa).

After searching for a while and evaluating the various recipes available to me online, I came across this coffee cake muffin recipe at The ingredients in the muffin base sounded like an easy thing to put together and didn't have too much oil, sugar, or eggs (I'm stingy with my eggs and try to be healthy by baking with less fats and sugar). But, the recipe was filled with jam and had that same sugary topping seen on coffee cakes. I wanted just a pure coffee-flavored muffin, no other flavors or sugars to mask it. So, I borrowed her muffin base, excluded the filling and topping, and put my own mocha glaze on top. I have to say the results came out very well.
The batter only produced 10 muffins in my case, but they were soft, moist, spongy. They have a crumb that stays together relatively well, but still is tender and breaks away when you bite into it. I added 1/2 teaspoon of ground coffee (Cafe du Monde) to boost the coffee flavor, but I will have to add more next time. I also used leftover coffee from the morning, which was made just regular , not strong. Due to this and the predominant sugar and flour base, the coffee flavor was not as strong as I wanted it to be. So, next time, I will brew extra strong coffee (probably do Vietnamese drip coffee using my phin and Cafe du Monde coffee), and add a full teaspoon to the batter to boost the flavor.

In making the icing. I had too small an amount of powdered sugar and added too much coffee. It was runny and definitely not suitable for icing. So I melted some bits of a dark chocolate baking bar in the microwave and stirred it in until I achieved a consistency I thought would be good.
After the muffins cooled down, I iced them. First, I tried covering the tops, but that did not look that nice. So next I went with zigzags. Much better. Still, displeased with the ugly muffins, I sprinkles some of the Cafe du Monde coffee on top, and voila! I was finally pleased.
Hope you enjoyed my journey to achieve a good-lookin' coffee muffin. Now, to the spoils! The recipe!

Coffee Muffins with Mocha Glaze (makes 10 muffins)
Muffin Ingredients
1.5 cups of flour (I use Ultra-Grain Flour)
1/4 cups of brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated (white) sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
less than 1/4 tsp of salt
1 tsp of good quality, finely ground coffee (Cafe du Monde, Starbucks, Illy, etc.)
1/2 cup of brewed coffee, cooled to room temperaure (next time, I'll brew it extra strong)
1/4 cup of milk
1 egg
1/3 cup of vegetable oil

Glaze Ingredients
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 Tbs brewed coffee
1/2 oz to 1 oz dark baking chocolate
Extra coffee grounds for decoration (optional)


  1. Sift the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat the coffee, milk, egg, and oil in a small bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  3. Make a well in center of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir just until combined. Do not overmix. Set aside.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.
  5. Line a muffin tin symmetrically with 10 muffin liners. 
  6. Pour the batter evenly into the muffin liners (if you have enough to fill 12 muffin cups about 2/3 full, go ahead)
  7. Fill the remaining 2 unlined muffin cups with water about 1/3 full.
  8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the middle-most muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan or 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. While the muffins are cooling, prepare the glaze: In a small cup, beat the powdered sugar and brewed coffee until the powdered sugar has dissolved. Heat the baking chocolate in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Mix into the powdered sugar mix. Continue to melt and add chocolate until you achieve the desired frosting consistency.
  10. Once the muffins have cooled to room temperature, ice/glaze/frost/decorate. If desired, sprinkle coffee grounds on top of the glaze.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Multigrain Walnut Banana Muffins

You all probably know: I LOOOVVEEE baking. It is a truly active activity with results that you can both eat and share with others. How awesome is that? What I don't like about baking is that the results can be bad for you, with all the sugar and butter. My family is generally really healthy, my mom especially. She eats loads of fruit and nuts, has cut out pastries and chips except for very rare occasions when she'll eat a few, and is always active. My mom is one of my strongest motivators to be healthy, strong, active, and more.

Balancing healthy and my love for baking is challenging. Most of my friends know I bake relatively low-sugar and low-fat desserts, with occasional splurges when attempting to impress others. For myself, I can't stand desserts that are too sweet. I seek out a wholesome balance of sweet and salty. Grains have a natural nuttiness and subtle sweetness that I have come to love. Nuts have a lot of fat, but these are healthy fats and good for you if eaten in moderation. Sugar is now emerging as the main culprit in rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. It may seem like all sugar is bad, except for natural sources like stevia, agave, and erythriol. Those sources sound great and natural and all, but they are still added sugars. Maybe they don't cause spikes in your insulin but they are not an excuse to eat as much of these sugar sources as you want. Sugar from fruits, eaten naturally and not removed and processed, is the best way to take in your sugar.

Taking what I've learned from a variety of health resources, I attempted to make a banana nut muffin that would appeal to my mom and me: healthy yet tasty, without added sugars, full of grains and omega-3 walnuts. This muffin would be something you could eat and feel good about. Definitely not a dessert muffin, but something to enjoy in the morning with milk or an afternoon or after dinner snack.

Multigrain Walnut Banana Muffins
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)
1 cup multigrain hot cereal (I used 7-grain hot cereal from Bob's Red Mill, or you can use 1 cup oats that have been processed in a food processor)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/4 cup oil (olive or vegetable oil both work fine)
3/4 cup 2% organic milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 mashed over-ripe bananas (~1.5 cups)
1/2-3/4 cup cinnamon chips or dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Mix the flour, hot cereal (uncooked), rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg, oil, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Mix just until combined.
  4. Add the mashed bananas. Mix just until combined.
  5. Add the cinnamon chips and chopped walnuts. Mix just until combined.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F and line 12-16 muffin cups.
  7. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 of the way up with the batter. (optional) Top each with a full walnut piece.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.

A caution is that this is healthy and you know it while eating it. To make it more appealing for the general public without adding spoons of sugar, I added in some mini cinnamon chips. Yes, this is processed sugar and I just lectured against it above, but you can't persuade others to eat healthy if it's unappetizing. Therefore, I added 1/2 cup of cinnamon chips. Next time, though, I'll add 3/4 cup of cinnamon chips to bring out the cinnamon and sweetness just a tad bit more. I also think the dark chocolate would be better than the cinnamon chips.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese sizzling crepes)

One of the most unique and delicious Vietnamese foods that is not commonly known to most non-Vietnamese people is a savory meat-filled Vietnamese crepe called bánh xèoBánh xèo looks like a large omelette, but it actually does not contain any eggs at all! It is a rice flour-based crepe that is filled with mung beans, ground meat, shrimp, and bean sprouts, and served with fresh lettuce and herbs and nước chấm (fish sauce dipping sauce). The yellow color of the crepe comes from turmeric powder mixed into the batter, and from the mung beans added during cooking.  
If you've never had it, I REALLY encourage you to venture out from the usual noodles, pho, and spring rolls to try this. You will experience something truly unique and tastefully rewarding that you will be sure to brag about to your friends. 

I've never made bánh xèo myself, but my grandma and mom have and I've had it at restaurants. During my short break back at home with my family, my mom asked me what I wanted her to make for dinner. I suggested bánh xèo and she got real excited. She has only made it once before and was eager to try it again. Plus, we both knew how tasty the final product would be. Crispy pancake edges, creamy mung beans, caramelized sweet onions, salty-sweet nước chấm, umami meat, and refreshing greens! So many flavors! I'm surprised the food trend people and renowned food critics are not gushing over this yet!

The nước chấm for this Vietnamese dish is slightly sweeter than normal nước chấm used for things such as noodle salads (bun). To make the dipping sauce, you add fresh lime juice and minced garlic to sugar, let the acid and garlic permeate the sugar, add a lot of water, then add a good amount of fish sauce till you reach the right balance of sweet, salty, and umami. One site you can find some ratios for ingredients is VietWorldKitchen

To make the crepes, we used a pre-made bánh xèo mix. Here are some suggested bags to grab:

They are basically rice flour, self-rising flour, and turmeric, which are easy to make at home if you do not have access to these mixes. They also instructions in Vietnamese and rough English translations on the back.

Here is what me and my mom did:

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes)
1 bag of bánh xèo mix, 1 can coconut milk (8 oz), and 3.5 cups of water
2-3 stalks of green onion, green and white parts, chopped
1 lb of ground meat (normally pork, but we used chicken to be healthier)
1 lb of shrimp, cleaned, deveined (usually the hard skin/shell is left on, but we removed it because i don't like the sharp crunch)
2 whole yellow onions
Lots of garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 bag of mung beans (I think most bags are around 12 oz.), soaked for an hour
1 bag of bean sprouts, washed and dry
To serve
2-3 heads of lettuce
Lots of Vietnamese herbs (purple perilla, Vietnamese mint, fish mint)
Prepared nước chấm


  1. Take the soaked mung beans and boil them in water for a few minutes. You only want to add enough water and to boil it long enough for the beans to soak up the water and not get mushy. Put into a bowl and set aside (drain excess water if any).
  2. Dice 1 whole onion, mince the garlic. 
  3. Saute the onion in oil until it starts to turn yellow, then add half of the garlic. Once that begins to turn brown, add the ground meat. Season with a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Use your spoon or chop sticks to break up the meat and cook through. Pour into a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Saute the remaining garlic till just brown then add the shrimp. Add black pepper. Cook through (do not over cook). Remove to a separate bowl and cut the shrimp in half lengthwise (the shrimp as they are are too thick to fold nicely into the crepes). Set aside.
  5. Slice remaining onion into thin strips. Saute in lots of oil until caramelized. Remove to a bowl lined with paper to soak up excess oil.
  6. Prepare the crepe mix. Add the turmeric powder to the rice flour mix. Pour in coconut milk and water. Stir. Add in diced green onions. Let sit for ~10 minutes.
  7. Wash the lettuce and herbs. Put into colanders to drip dry. Prepare the nước chấm if not done so yet.
  8. Now prepare to make the crepes. Take the individual bowls of crepe batter, meat, shrimp, mung bean, and bean sprouts and place them near the stove. 
  1. Using a large nonstick skillet with a wide base (~10 inches) over high heat, pour in a generous amount of oil to cover the surface. Throw in some meat, shrimp, and onions on one side, then pour a small ladle of the batter into the pan, distributing the batter into a thin layer. Plug up any holes with extra batter. Immediately throw onto the half with the meat and onions, generous spoonfuls of mung bean then bean sprouts. 
  1. Fry until the edges are lifting and the crepe is crispy. Fold the crepe and remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter and fillings.
  2. To serve: place crepe on a plate, serve with lettuce, herbs, and nước chấm. Provide bowls for the dipping sauce. Use chopsticks and spoons to eat. 
  3. Traditional way to eat (messy): break off a piece of the crepe. Take a full lettuce leaf, top with fresh herbs and the piece of crepe. Fold over like a little lettuce burrito, dip into the nước chấm and eat. 
  4. Alternate way to eat (clean): break up crepe into a bowl, top with ripped lettuce and herbs. Drizzle in however much nước chấm you want. Eat with chopsticks.
I hope this is helpful to anyone looking to try a new ethnic dish. It is very time-consuming for sure, but the results are rewarding and the presentation is fabulous. Everyone will be oohing and aahing at your next dinner!