Hue pancakes

• MAKES  6 •

In Hue, Vietnam, these pancakes are known as banh khoai , which translates as ‘happy cake’, and happiness is certainly what you’ll experience when you master this classic street dish. The key to replicating it at home is to get your frying pan nice and hot and to spread an even layer of the batter across the pan – this helps make the pancake crisp and the crisper these are, the better they are. 

vegetable oil for cooking
2 eggs, beaten
200 g (7 oz) cooked school prawns (shrimp)
200 g (7 oz) Chinese barbecued pork (char siu) (available from Asian barbecue shops), thinly sliced
3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
250 g (9 oz) bean sprouts
1 bunch of perilla leaves
1 bunch of mint leaves
1 bunch of Vietnamese mint leaves

Batter
130 g (3⁄4 cup) rice flour
1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
100 ml (31⁄2 fl oz) coconut cream
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

To serve
butter lettuce leaves
Soy bean dipping sauce (see page 17)

To make the batter, combine all the ingredients in a bowl with 150 ml (5 fl oz) cold water and whisk until a smooth, creamy batter forms with the consistency of pouring (single/light) cream. Add a little extra water if necessary.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 20 cm (8 in) heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Add 60 ml (2 fl oz/1⁄4 cup) of the batter to the pan, swirling the pan to coat the base evenly. Add about one-sixth of the beaten egg, then one-sixth of the prawns, barbecued pork, spring onion, bean sprouts and herbs. Cook for 2 minutes or until the base is crisp and golden and the pancake is cooked through. Fold over, transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining batter and filling ingredients.

Serve the pancakes with the lettuce and the soy bean dipping sauce on the side.

East: Culinary Adventures in Southeast Asia
By Leanne Kitchen, Antony Suvalko