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Stall 1006 - Banh Cuon

bt-banh-cuon-stall

Banh cuon is a northern dish, and to my tastes it's one of the better ones. It's an occasional find on the streets of Saigon. This is the only stall (no. 1006) floggin' this stuffed rice film pancake on Ben Thanh market and I come back here again and again. Banh Cuon hails from Thanh Tri district just outside Hanoi and it sounds simple enough; mashed up minced pork, mushrooms and prawns wrapped in a flimsy rice film. It comes served with sliced cucumber, cha lua (mortadella), beansprouts, sprinkled with deep-fried shallots and chopped mint with a nuoc mam (fish sauce) dip. You'll need a delicate touch to replicate this dish in your skullery.

bt-banh-cuon-spread

You'll also need a steamer, a ladle and a bucket of ready made rice flour mixed with water. A ladle full of the white mixture is spread across the skillet of the steamer covering the surface. It's then covered for 30 seconds or so. So far so good. The tricky bit is the transfer of the cooked noodle pancake onto a clear surface to stuff with the meat. Tricky to explain, a bugger to do yourself. So, in a noodlepie first I shot a short, dial-up friendly lo-fi film of the making of Banh Cuon on Ben Thanh market. Quality's not great, but click here to see a 1 minute 19 seconds clip (1.8MB) - I think you'll need the Apple Quicktime plug-in to view it properly. The chef here is slick - I'm sure I'd get through several buckets of rice flour before I had anything approaching edible - the Banh Cuon process would be great fodder for an oriental edition of the Generation Game.

bt-banh-cuon-closeup

The dish itself is one of the lightest on the Vietnamese menu. In the north it's a breakfast dish, but there's something about thin rice flour pancakes which doesn't appeal to me first thing in the morning. I need a few hours before I can attack anything gloppy and rice based. Having said that, in Hanoi I would often grab this as an after dark snack at a street stall opposite Hang Da market in the old quarter, so it's not only early northern birds who can enjoy this countrywide. It's a bargain at 8,000VD a throw. And one of the must-try's at bonkers-good Ben Thanh market food hall. View the business card.

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Comments

Hey Noodle pie,

Watched the short vid you had there. Looks impressive! I like the way they make this...looks like it takes a lot of skill. I for one would never be able to make this in a million years. Hats off to the ladies/gents that do. By the way, the rice noodle skin looks really thin...that makes this dish look even better. I don't like it when the skin's too thick.

I'm getting my maid to make it for me tomorrow! Let you know how it tastes....

I'm getting my maid to make it for me tomorrow! Let you know how it tastes....

Reid - Glad someone wtached that video. It was a bugger to upload for some reason. You're right - the pancake (not sure you can even call it that - even though I did) is exceptionally thin. Transparent even.

Lei - I look forward to hearing how your maid does. I wouldn't dare ask mine to attempt it after seeing what's involved.

Well, she made it for us tonight and I thought it was quite good. The pancake was on the thick side because after talking with her, we decided the steaming bit was too labor intensive and chose to go the frying pan route instead. Since I haven't had the "real" thing, I didn't mind at all.

Nice video mate.

Same technique is used to make the Cantonese delicacy \"chee cheong fun\" (sometimes found in \"tim sum\" restaurants). Except the Vietnamese version is thinner.

The video makes me drool. :p

Hello,

Just wondering if anyone knows or has the recipe to make Cha Lua or Banh Cuon??

Much appreciated

Ta

Aloe Vera, thanks for dropping by, you might want to post this query at the EGullet 'Elsewhere in the Pacific' forum.

Hmm... I've been looking at this site all morning and it's the worst thing to do on an empty stomach. First off, I've made this dish a number of times at home but I fry it in a non-stick skillet instead of steaming it (although I'm sure the steaming gives better "noodily" texture). Even with a non-stick skillet, it can still be very sticky (maybe due to the starch of the batter? Sadly to say, I do buy the pre-mixed batter... boo hoo)Anyway, it's still tastes great. Quite a crowd pleaser. Also, I'm quite intrigued at "Pieman" or "Noodle Pie" or "Graham Halliday" for, I guess, advertising all of Vietnamese cuisine. Let's just say I'm sooooo envious not to enjoy all the food that he's been eating. One thing that makes me raise my eyebrow is that fact that he/she is eating all these veggies and drinking all these "iced beverages" from local stands. Just wondering if he/she has taken precautions with vaccinations and worm pills and the like? I remember one trip to Vietnam and I stumbled upon a local eatery and found small white wormies dancing in the small jar of pickled peppers. EW!

Hi Amy. Absolutely no precautions needed, just common sense. If it looks good, it probably is good. I've been eating this stuff for 8 years. Gotten sick, so I had to time off work, 3 or 4 times. The worst of that was at a respectable French resto in Hanoi. I was off for a week after that place.

In 4 years in Saigon, I haven't gotten so much as a dose of the plops from the street or the market. Not to say it's not possible... but there' so much nambi-pambiness talked about by some folk and WAY TOO MANY guidebooks with regards street/market food. A load of tripe IMO. Get stuck in.

As for worms in ice. Never ever seen that... Always have ice wherever I am. Although, I do draw a line at putting it in beer which seems to be the way in Saigon. Yuk.

Hey, just thought you should try 'banh uot' too, i think it's the south's version of 'banh cuon'. Thicker skin and no meat inside. I love banh uot alot, even more than banh cuon^^

Bonjours est- il possible d'autenir la recette des banh cuon.je vous remerciesinc´┐Żrement.

Bonjour Vero,
Je trouve la recette de banh cuon sur ce site:
http://decouverte-laos.blogspot.com/2006/03/recette-des-banh-cuon.html
------------
Hi Vero,
I find out a Banh Cuon recipe on this website :
http://decouverte-laos.blogspot.com/2006/03/recette-des-banh-cuon.html

The "skillet" of the steamer is actually a piece of cloth stretched over the open steamer. The steam goes through the cloth and cooks the batter. Lifting the cooked rice sheet to the rolling pan does indeed look tricky. It seems you can skip this step by putting the filling in the rice sheet while it's still atop the steamer, then roll it up then, after which it's in an easier to remove shape. The market vendor is shown rolling one long banh cuon and cutting it. That seems like an acceptable effort-saving practice, though I've seen my mother roll each little banh cuon meticulously one by one.

Such a mistake to read your blog on an empty stomach. But had to de-lurk as banh cuon is one of my top fave eats. =) The un-fancy way I make it at home is to use a small non-stick. Lightly rub with oil (yes, even with non-stick). Ladle in just enough batter to coat the bottom (swirl to coat evenly an ensure there are no holes and it's not too thick). Spoon in a little of the filling. Then cover briefly to make sure the batter is fully cooked. Then, with your chopsticks (or fork), lift a corner of the batter, roll it 1/3 way, fold in sides, then continue rolling, tipping the pan to help with rolling right off of pan into plate. Voila!

Please email me back for the recipe Banh Cuon in English. I went to blog above but it is in French and I can't understand it.
Also, if you got a recipe on how to make cha lua to eat with banh cuong, please email also. Thanks.

Isabella

I have had banh cuon and being my favorite dish. I had the thin style and also thick style. Like them both. I like it best when it's homemade watching my mother doing each one.
Anyway, here's the recipe:
1 cup rice flour
1 cup corn starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch (or flour)
2 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon salt

You can add more rice flour for thicker result.

Non stick pan a must. Yes you must oil it.

I forgot 6 cups of water!!

Well, I'm a Vietnamese girl and of course, I know how to make some of these dishes. Vietnamese are proud of our traditional custom and food culture as well. So, if you want to make these great dishes, I can show you. It is my pleasure! :D

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