While culinary mushrooming is happening in Saigon, banh khot (crispy Vietnamese mini-pancake) is a must-do for newcomers. Food enthusiasts, be ready to discover this niche Southern Vietnamese delicacy, how to make it, and where to try it out in Ho Chi Minh.
What is Banh Khot?
These popular cakes are mainly made of coconut milk and rice flour, topped with flash fried seafood, such as medium-size shrimp or squid, and served with fresh vegetables and sweet fish sauce. Widely popular throughout the country, banh khot has slight regional differences, but the hometown of this famous and tasty dish is Vung Tau.
Fun Fact: If you’ve tasted banh xeo, a kind of Vietnamese pancake, then you will be familiar with the greasy and sweet-smelling taste in its tinier form – banh khot.
How to Make Banh Khot
In the baking process, the ratios when mixing the dry ingredients will significantly affect the flavor of your dish. Banh khot batter is made of rice flour, sometimes even leftover cooked rice, and coconut milk. A hint of turmeric powder will often be incorporated, which gives the mini pancakes a slightly golden yellow hue; turmeric excluded from the mixture results in a white banh khot. A special pan with small circular molds is needed in order to shape the cakes.
Banh Khot recipe
- A takoyaki pan sold at Asian grocery stores
- 1kg of rice flour
- 2 teaspoons of the turmeric flour
- 400g of minced lean meat
- 300g of fresh shrimps peeled and deveined
- 3 duck eggs
- A box of coconut milk
- 300g of green beans
- 1 carrot
- 1 white radish
- A bundle of scallions
- One yellow onion
- Some sugar and salt
- A slice of lemon
- Chopped chilis
- Fish sauce
- Wash and chop the peeled shrimps into small pieces.
- Julienne the carrot and the white radish, then chop them into shorter strips and squeeze to drain excess water.
- Boil the green beans and chop the scallions and the onion.
Step 1: Mix the rice flour with turmeric powder, chopped scallions, duck eggs, and ¾ of the box of coconut milk. Add some warm water in the bowl until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Add a little salt and set the flour mixture aside to rest for 15 to 30 minutes.
Step 2: Next, place a medium saucepan on the stove and heat some cooking oil. Sauté the chopped onions with minced meat, chopped shrimps, and chopped green beans. Season lightly and then pour some of the coconut milk into the pan.
Step 3: Add some oil into each bowl within the takoyaki pan. Heat the pan for 5-10 minutes until the oil begins to sizzle. Ladle the rice flour mixture into the pan until each mold is filled 2/3 of the way. After every bowl is filled, add a spoonful of the coconut milk/minced meat mixture into the center of the batter. Sprinkle some green onions on top of the batter after.
Step 4: Cover the pan and wait for 3-5 minutes. When the edges are golden and crispy, they are ready to serve. Serve the finished banh khot with sweet and sour sauce, fresh vegetables, and some pickles.
(Source: Cooking With Vina)
Making The Sauce
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons of sugar, ½ cup warm water, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of premium fish sauce, 1 clove of garlic, 2 red chilis, and ½ lime.
Method: Chop garlic and chilis. Use warm water to dissolve sugar. Mix the vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, chili, the sugar water, and lemon juice slowly. The standard fish-sauce-based condiment should cover the spectrum of flavors from salty and spicy, to sweet and sour.
How to eat
The plate of banh khot is set on the table leaving you to assemble your very own wrap. You can try sampling all of the fresh vegetables and herbs from the basket to get an idea of what you like and don’t like.
To demonstrate the proper way of eating banh khot, first, use the big leaves, such as the broccoli leaves, as the base for the wrap. Then place the smaller herbs and the small pancakes on top. A little-shredded papaya can also be added. Roll the wrap tight, then dip it into the fish sauce-based condiment, and enjoy!
Where to Eat Banh Khot
1. Banh Khot Dang Dung – Alley 32, Dang Dung Street, D.1
If you are on the mission to discover the best crispy pancakes in Saigon, look no further. Banh khot Dang Dung should place high on your list. Space is clean and well-run even when there are only two people operating the whole location. The sweet fish sauce coupled with chili and radish is the real superstar here giving gourmands another dimension of flavor. Just a heads up: the vendor is located at the edge of the downtown area, so it is worth your while to check out a map in order not to waste precious hours wandering around the maze of small alleys in Saigon.
2. Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau – 102 Cao Thang Street, D.3
Offering different varieties of banh khot with four types of topping options including shrimp, pork, oyster, and fish paste, Banh khot Co Ba Vung Tau is able to satisfy all customer’s palate, even the pickiest. Despite being crowded at all times, the restaurant serves up a superior banh khot in terms of presentation with hefty shrimps and a generous basket of fresh vegetables for wrapping up the banh khot.
Ideal for vegetarians: the spot also has banh khot chay (the vegetarian version of the dish) on their menu. In this case, the cakes are fried in the vegetable oil and topped with green beans.
3. Banh Khot Vendor at Ben Thanh Night Food Market – D.1
Nestled among Saigon’s rich culinary culture are alleys full of local street food vendors serving up traditional and inexpensive food. At Ben Thanh night market, visitors can also find vendors selling pretty good plates of banh khot at an affordable price. Although the dishes here might not have the best flavor characteristically speaking, eating banh khot at Ben Thanh night market is recommended as an easy solution for travelers.
4. Banh Khot Goc Vu Sua – 14 Nguyen Truong To St, Vung Tau city
As said before, the hometown of banh khot is Vung Tau, so it should come as no surprise to you that this is definitely where you will find the best Banh Khot in Vietnam. Vung Tau is a beautiful coastal city, just a 2 hours drive away from Saigon. If you ever get the chance to visit there, make your way over to ‘Banh Khot Goc Vu Sua.’ This place has been operating for more than 10 years and is a favorite haunt of the locals when it comes to eating banh khot.
It is always packed and you will know you arrived at the right place when you see smoke coming out of hot pans with these mini crispy pancakes on it. Don’t be surprised if you see some ladies looking like ninjas here with zipped shirts up to their necks and full-face masks and hats. That is the only way to protect them from the direct heat while making these delicious pancakes. Once you have your meal here, you will realize that the beach is just a plus 😉
Weekdays: 6 am – 2.30 pm
Weekends: 6 am – 10 pm
Price: 50.000 VND per plate of 8 mini pancakes
Bank khot bites are ideal as an appetizer and a great street treat for a snack or a light meal, but easily can be doubled up and turned into a main dish at all hours of the day. The banh khot recipe is very variable and it may take a while to become an expert in the art of cooking savory pancakes. Luckily, there’s no need to become a master chef in order to enjoy a batch of these bad boys. Just one bite and you’ll get why these delicious bite-sized treats are gaining more attention in the circle of contemporary Saigonese cuisine.
Let’s share this article with your friends and create the best banh khot in your own style!
Enjoyed this article and want to learn about other Vietnamese food? How about some banh xeo, bun rieu, pho, or oc (sea snails)?
Check out the food section in Christina’s blog for more information about delicious Vietnamese dishes!