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Stir Crazy (Vietnamese Crepes aka Banh Xeo)

November 11, 2015

The weather here in the Tyrolean Alps has been incredible.  It's been warm and sunny for days and days.  People are running around in shorts and T-shirts!  In America, we would definitely call this an 'Indian Summer'.  Here, it is called 'altweibersommer' or 'The Summer of Old Dames'.  All I know is that this year's summer was amazing... and it's been even more kind to leave us with an Indian Summer.  Next week, the temperatures drop and maybe this will be Summer's final farewell.

But, who am I kidding... We have been stuck at home indoors for the last four weeks because of those pesky little germs and bugs.  The girls have been tossing their colds back and forth to each other... and even once to me!  When we took El to the doctor's office she came back home with the always-welcome stomach virus.  Great.  

After a few days of that... and a little wave of the stomach bug to me... the girls were sick again with the same pesky (albeit mutated) cold again.  So, no... we haven't been able to enjoy much of the glorious weather... the girls been stuck inside... threatening mutiny... and we all have been going a little stir crazy watching all of this lovely weather pass us by!

But, as always,  El & Lil have been real troopers... finding fun things to do under every corner.  El drew a lovely portrait of the house we live in... and me... and Coco.  I believe Coco gained an extra pair of legs and has extra curly hair!

Inspired by Ella's drawing, I deconstructed and reconstructed the box of our new humidifier (congestion be gone!) into a pint-size Tyrolean residence. 

El & Lil got a pair of new teddy bears - snuggles!  And, Ella worked on her zebra drawings...

Dada got some new fangled headphones... which were immediately tested by Lil.

Music is big in our house.  There's always something playing in the background.   Music makes our days so much sweeter...  So, now that you understand why we are stir crazy, you can also understand why making Vietnamese Crepes (Banh Xeo) was just what the doctor ordered. 

. . .

Growing up, my mom would make these for special occasions.  They take a bit of preparation... the chopping and cutting and mixing... and in usual Vietnamese fashion, you have to make enough to feed an army.  You can't just make two crepes.  I think it's more about the fact that it's a little bit of a lot of things that together make a really fantastic big thing.

I found this recipe over at Hungry Huy.  I like everything about his blog... esp the photos! Yum!  Head back to his site for a great how-to for these babies.

The only thing I substituted was tapioca flour for his wheat flour.  That's it.  Everything else was spot on. 


So, I would definitely say to wrap these in a lettuce leaf and dip into nuoc mam (the quintessential Vietnamese condiment - goes with everything!)... and enjoy!  Not just any lettuce leaf - a soft green lettuce like Bibb or butter lettuce.  Don't go for the icebergs or the romaines... these crepes already have their crunch from the bean sprouts.

Nuoc mam is a thing of much complexity... and depending on who you ask, their mother probably makes it the best.  Some are more concentrated, some are more light... some are more sour, some more sweet.  So, you've got to try a lot of different recipes before you find what tastes best to you.  But, this is a good starting point... an adaptation of David Chang's Fish Sauce Vinagrette... 

After being stuck inside for weeks, these crepes were a symphony of sensory magic at the dinner table.  Starting at the stove with the scents of ingredients cooking away... the sizzling of the onions, shrimp, and pork... to the sound of the batter hitting the hot pan... 

Then, at the table, the crunchiness of the bean sprouts meets the soft middle bits of the crepe... the crispy edges of the crepe meet the savory filling... and all of this taste and texture is enhanced by the dipping sauce... which brings it all together into the most satisfying bite ever!

Servings-wise, I was able to make six crepes the first night... and nine crepes the second night.  If you have any leftovers, just pop them into oven to crisp them up again.   


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