Bánh bèo is a Vietnamese specialty made with individual, thick, steamed rice cakes. The recipe is not that complicated but preparing each rice cake can be time-consuming. The batter is made from combined rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch. I used tiny, one-ounce porcelain dipping bowls to steam the rice cakes. Once they were cooked, I brushed them with onion-flavored oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.
The second step is the filling, which is traditionally made with dried shrimp flakes, fried shallots and green onions. You could make a vegetarian version using mung beans. Lastly, a drizzle of nuoc cham (fish sauce) and chopped Vietnamese mint (rau thom) complete the festive dish.
1. Info for Homemade Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp)
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 55 mins
- Servings: 8
- Calories: 281kcal
2. Ingredients for Homemade Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp)
- 8 shallots, thinly sliced
- 8 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 green onions, green part only
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1½ cups rice flour
- 6 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2¾ cups lukewarm water, as needed
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 3 cups mung beans, cooked
- 1 cup Vietnamese mint (rau thom), snipped
- 1½ cups nuoc cham
3.1 The day before
Soak the shrimp overnight, changing the water and rinsing the shrimp often.
3.2 The following day
Rinse the shrimp and grind it into a fine powder in a food processor.
Making bánh beo batter: In a bowl, whisk the 3 flours together with the water. Season with ½ teaspoon salt. Stir well; make sure there are no lumps. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Let sit for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
Fill a large pot (that accommodates a steamer) with cold water until it barely touches the steamer level. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high.
Fill 1-ounce ramekins (I used nuoc mam dipping bowls) with the rice batter. Place the ramekins in the steamer and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture is flimsy and soft and the texture is chewy.
Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, fry (separately) the shallots, garlic and green onions, reserving the oil for brushing the rice cakes later.
Remove the ramekins and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Unmold, transfer to a serving platter and brush the rice cakes with the reserved fragrant oil. Repeat the same procedure until all the batter is finished.
Combine the mung beans, fried shallots and green onions. Mix well.
Using a silicone brush, coat the rice cakes with thin layer of oil.
To the same pan, add the shrimp and fried garlic. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until the mixture resembles dried flakes.
Top each rice cakes with the mung bean mixture, then the dried shrimp.
When ready to serve, ddrizzle with nuoc cham sauce. Sprinkle with greens for a bright contrast in color.
4. Tips and advices:
- This recipe yields about 40 rice cakes. I usually count 5 per person.
- Dried shrimp (tôm khô in Vietnamese) add a unique salty taste to the dish. This ingredient is very common in Vietnamese cuisine. I sometimes add some to fried rice but when cooked, the taste is very different.
- You can buy rice flour at the store but I prefer grinding my own, so I know all the nutrients are preserved. I use the Nutrimill brand mill. If you cook a lot, this machine would be very useful to make any kind of flour.