Written in Collaboration with Cruise1st Australia
We’re a family of avid cruisers and have sailed far and wide. But one of our all-time favourite ports is busy, buzzy Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon). Famous for the pivotal role it played in the end of Vietnam War, the city is now the country’s pulsing centre of commerce.
It is also an epic tourist destination thanks to its culture, and its clash of classic French architecture, sleek skyscrapers and ornate temples. The friendly city is endlessly fascinating. It is also endlessly noisy, but the chaotic din of honking horns and the cries of street hawkers only add a certain buzzing charm. And since Raffles and Sugarouff first visited when they were tiny tots, to a cheek pinching reception by the lovely locals, they’ve been a little bit smitten.
Regardless of its many historic and cultural attractions, the siren song of Ho Chi Minh City’s world-famous salty, sweet, sour and hot street food is what calls to the Eats Worlds the loudest While just as flavour-packed as the cuisine of its nearest neighbours, Vietnamese offers a little something extra. A lot of little somethings in fact, such as fabulous local produce, piles of fresh herbs that add lightness and fragrance or the influence of French colonialism adds a refined touch.
We slurp swimming pool size bowls of steaming bowls of pho bo (pronounced “fur”), a popular noodle soup topped with slivers of rare beef and bean sprouts.
Plates of xoi ga, a sticky rice and chicken concoction, are devoured with ravenous intent. And there isn’t a banh mi thit, crispy French-style baguettes filled with pickled vegetables, herbs, pork and pate, that we can pass by.
Sugarpuff loves the noodles, which she shoves in to her gob by the fistful.
But our favourite dish of all is banh xeo, a crispy, coconutty pancake stuffed with prawns, pork, bean sprouts and a bounty of fresh herbs, then topped with tangy nuoc chom dressing.
So addictive are the healthy, fragrant pancakes that they’ve become a staple in the Eats World household.
Here we share our take on the popular dish.
- For the Pancake:
- 200g rice flour
- 2 tbsp. cornflour
- 250ml coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 200-250ml cold water
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 300gm pork belly, pre-cooked and sliced
- 250g medium cooked prawns, peeled, deveined, chopped
- Peanut oil for frying
- For the Nuoc Chom Dressing:
- 80ml fish sauce
- 80ml fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar
- 1 chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- To serve:
- 1 cup Vietnamese mint leaves
- Butter lettuce leaves
- 1 chili diced
- Mix all nuoc chom ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine rice flour, corn flour, turmeric and salt in a bowl with coconut milk and enough iced water to make a runny batter (crepe consistency).
- Cover and rest in a refrigerator for at least two hours.
- Remove and stir in sliced spring onions.
- Heat a tsp of peanut oil in a large nonstick pan over a medium-high heat.
- Add a cup full of the batter to pan, swirling until it covers the base in a thin layer.
- Cook for three to four minutes or until base is crispy and golden.
- Scatter one half of the pancake with the cooked pork, prawn, and sprouts.
- Cook for a further minute, then fold the pancake in half and remove from heat.
- Serve with mint and nuoc chom dressing.
- Wrap cooked pancake in lettuce to eat, if desired.
Disclosure: This post was written in Collaboration with Cruise1st Australia, however all opinions and undying devotion to Ho Chi Min City and eating pancakes is our own.