Vietnamese Crispy Crepes (Banh Xeo)

Who loves crunchy food? Everyone!!!  Well, if you ever had a Vietnamese crispy crepe, then I am certain you'll agree that it's insanely crunchy and delicious and with all the refreshing mints and veggies and the infamous Vietnamese lime-garlic nuoc mam dipping sauce. In my opinion, this dish should be a national dish, along side with Pho. It's one of those dishes that are labor intensive but oh so worth it. I would have "Banh Xeo" parties for close friends and family on special occasions.  It's labor intensive because as you make one, you serve it right away to get the best crunch factor. So if you're the cook for the day, don't expect to sit down until all your crepe batter is finished. I'm ready for my next "Banh Xeo" party!

Vietnamese crispy crepe

RECIPE for 4-6 servings

1 pkg of Vietnamese  Banh Xeo Crispy Crepes ready-mix (12 oz), available at your local Vietnamese market
1 cup of milk or coconut milk
4 cups club soda, just plain with no sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 stalks green onion, diced

-Combine all the above ingredients. Let it stand for 15 mins before cooking.

2 cups of canola oil, use a quirt bottle so you can control the amount of oil 
1 or 2 nonstick fry pan

Crepe toppings:
1 large white onion, sliced thin lengthwise  
1/2 lb pork belly, slice thin, about 2-inch width
1/2 lb small shrimp with shell on
1 handful of sliced button mushroom
1/2 lb of bean sprout

- If you'd like to go vegetarian, then skip the shrimp and pork
- Pre-cook the shrimp/pork by sauteing the shrimp and pork with a dash of salt on a hot skillet for 3-5 mins. Remember to saute the pork for the first 2 mins then add the shrimp the last 2 mins. 
- Have the sprout, onion and mushroom within reach by the stove but keep them in separate containers so you don't mix them

Serve with Vietnamese dipping sauce and a large platter of veggies that include lettuce, various Vietnamese mints, sliced cucumber, and pickled carrot and daikon.

For the best results, use a heavy bottom pan, similar to the Calphalon nonstick fry pan. Heat level should be at level 8 (based on 1-10 dial). You'll find your "banh xeo" groove after making a couple of them. If you're having a large party, then use multiple skillets.

1. On high heat, add 2 tbs of oil to the hot skillet. Then add a few pieces of onion. Let it cook for 8 seconds.
2. Ladle 1 cup of crepe batter to skillet and give it a few swirls to distribute the batter into a thin layer to coat the bottom of the skillet. Let it cook for 2 minutes, or until you see the batter is no longer opaque or raw looking. Then distribute a teaspoon of oil to the circumference of the crepe. You should have to oil hit against the wall of the skillet and not into the crepe. 
3. Add the shrimp and pork by distributing them all over the crepe, like toppings on a pizza. Continue to cook for another 2 mins. 
4. As the rim of the crepe begins to lift from the skillet, add 1/2 cup of sprout and a few pieces of mushroom. Continue to cook for 2-3 mins until the crepe looks golden and it feels crunchy.
5. Use a spatula to fold half the crepe over. Making a half moon shape now. And shift the crepe to the center of the skillet.
6. Be patient and let it cook for another 2-3 mins more to get it crunchy. 

Serve the crepes right away while it's hot and crunchy!