These little dishes can be appetizer or entree, but either way they are delicious. I had a craving for them at 10 pm last night, and as a 24/7 nibbler, I set out to make them. I was lucky that I had some mung bean paste from my bánh cam night two nights ago, which saved the majority of preparation time. This dish is eaten with fish sauce dipping sauce, which is a lighter salty-sweet sauce made from fish sauce. After I was done eating half, I remembered to take a picture. Better late than never, right? I am still getting used to this blogging business.
Bánh Bèo (Literal Translation: Water Fern Cake)
· 10 shrimp, headless, peeled
· ½ tsp mushroom seasoning or any msg substitute (can substitute with a bit of salt, pepper, and a dash of fish sauce)
· ½ a cup of peeled mung beans (the ones that are yellow, not green)
· 1 bunch of green onion, chopped
· Rice Cake*: 1 cup rice flour, 1 cup hot water, 1 cup room temperature water
· 20 little deep ceramic plates (like the ones in the picture)
· Optional: fried 1 cm2 pig skin pieces (I left this out because I didn’t have pig skin and even if I did, greasy food at midnight is really bad for me), you can substitute this with small croutons if desired
· Sauce: 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1.5 tbsp sugar, mixed until dissolved; add 6-7 dashes of fish sauce and an optional squeeze of lime and mix well. Add chili paste as desired.
** You can substitute the rice cake recipe with ready-mixed banh beo flour found in Vietnamese stores and just follow the directions on the packet. I found that both ways of making gives similar results and are both delicious.
· In a pot with boiling water, add the mung beans and let cook on medium for 45 minutes, until the mung beans are extremely soft. When it is, drain out the water and either hand mash the mung bean into a paste or use a food processor. Add a drizzle of canola oil (olive oil is too bitter and doesn’t keep as long). Let it cool.
· In another pot of boiling water, boil the shrimp. Pat dry the shrimp and using a food processor puree the shrimp. Pour out the water and dry the pot. Put the shrimp back in and using a spoon, mix and separate the bits of shrimp. The texture when finished should be a coarse powder/cotton texture. Let cool.
· Set up the steamer, add a lot of water and leave it on high. This dish needs a lot of steam to cook the rice cake. Once the water is boiling, put in the small bowls/plates and let it steam for about 2 minutes to get hot.
· In a bowl, mix the rice flour with cold water, then slowly add the hot water. Mix well.
· When the bowls are hot, using a ladle, scoop in about 3 tbsp (depending on your bowl size, make sure the rice cake layer is about .5 cm thick) for each cup. Cover the lid of the steamer and let steam for 5 minutes. Take the cups out and repeat until all the rice cakes are made. Let cool.
· While the rice cake is cooling, you can set up a pan with an inch layer of oil, add the pieces of pork skin, and fry until crispy. Drain oil on a paper towel. You can also substitute it with croutons.
· In a small bowl, add the chopped green onions, 1 tsp oil (olive is okay here), and mix well. Microwave it for 1 minute.
· To assemble, you can either remove the rice cakes from the bowl (it is not that sticky to the bowl) by using a knife and running it through the edge of the circle, or eat it straight from the bowl using a spoon. Add a layer of the shredded shrimp, a layer of the mung bean paste, green onion, and top it off with some fried pork skin. Pour on some fish dipping sauce and enjoy!