These lacy, gluten-free pancakes, known as bánh xèo in Vietnam, can be wrapped around all kinds of fillings, including leftover stir-fries and vegetable curries. Or, served with ginger-lime sauce, they’re a perfect match for fish or seafood. I make them with the white rice flour found in Asian markets or the organic section of the supermarket. (Glutinous, or sticky, rice flour doesn’t work.) The technique for cooking bánh xèo is much the same as for crepes: Make them one at a time in an eight-inch non-stick skillet. If you only have a larger pan, make a larger pancake and cut in half to serve. To get really crispy edges, use a pastry brush to coat the sides of the pan with oil as each pancake cooks.
Ready time: 40 minutes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peeled ginger
1 teaspoon sambal oelek or chopped fresh chili
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Lime juice to taste
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup sliced onions
12 ounces (375 grams) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup shredded daikon
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek or other Asian chili sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, plus more to garnish
Vegetable oil for frying
3 cups bean sprouts
To make the sauce, bring water and sugar to a boil. Boil for 1 minute or until all the sugar has dissolved. Reserve.
Peel the rind from the lime with a vegetable peeler and reserve. Remove and discard all white pith from both the rind and the fruit. Segment the lime. Place lime rind, lime segments, ginger, sambal oelek, fish sauce and 1/4 cup of the sugar syrup in a blender. Blend, scraping down as needed, until almost smooth. Stir in cilantro. Taste for seasoning, adding lime juice or additional syrup as needed. Reserve.
To make the shrimp, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes or until just flecked with gold. Add shrimp, daikon, carrots and mushrooms and cook just until the shrimps turn pink, about 2 more minutes. Stir in sambal oelek and fish sauce. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside. Reheat when needed.
To make the pancakes, whisk together rice flour, salt, sugar and curry powder in a medium bowl. Slowly add the coconut milk and water, whisking until smooth. Stir in mint.
Wipe out the same skillet used for the shrimp and heat 1 teaspoon of oil in it over medium-high heat. Pour 1/2 cup pancake batter into the pan and swirl quickly to coat the entire cooking surface. Cook pancake until set and golden on bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. It will look lacy. Flip with a spatula or your fingers and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the pancake is cooked through. Slide onto a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
Place a pancake on each plate. Top with shrimp mixture, bean sprouts and mint. Fold over and serve with ginger-lime sauce.