food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

vietnamese crepesCan I get a bit personal for a moment: do you have a culinary crush? Are you mad for Malaysian food (it’s right up there for me)? What about kale: has it jumped the shark, or is it still fanning the flames of your heart (still fanning away here)? Or have you freaked out on freekeh (yet to fully explore, but watch this space)?

Is there an ingredient, cuisine or style of cooking that you love above all others?

Well, this is my crush food. Bánh xèo (pronounced bahn say-oh, and meaning “sizzling cake”) is simply the epitome, the apogee, of my culinary wish list: crunchy yet soft, sour-salty, umami and faintly sweet. With lovely crispy lace edges if I get it right (not crucial, but oh so satisfying) How it manages all these tick boxes I don’t know, but it does. And it is just as good made vegan. In fact, I prefer it without the traditional pork and prawns.

I’ve gone all fangirl for this dish, first tasted properly a number of years ago in a London cafe (since gone downhill, I understand). I wanted to write a thank you letter/fan letter after sighing and mmming my way through my first proper one. That crepe was the Donny Osmond (circa ’74) of the food world for me. I have since had it in Vietnamese restaurants in Edinburgh – all very nice – but thought I better start making my own as my dilated eyes and table thumping were getting a bit embarrassing.

When I first embarked on doing my take on this recipe I was shocked to find that the crepe contains no egg. The yellow of the turmeric fools you into thinking that henny pennies have been involved, but no. It is pretty straightforward to put together, and I would stick out my neck and say that it is  family-friendly – making smaller ones as required (or nicking half of a big one and giving the rest to said child). As with all pancakes, the first one is often a duffer, but learn from the first one (mine is usually lop-sided and a bit thick -no comments please).

I won’t detain you further from this recipe. I hope you aren’t too put off with the long ingredient list and my usual pedantic hand-holding instructions. It really is quite straight-forward for the semi-experienced home cook. Of which I am one.  Connoisseurs of Vietnamese food (and indeed any Vietnamese reading this) may be somewhat taken aback by my version, but I hope you like the sound of it. It is loaded with vegetables and herbs (hence the over-stuffed in the title), with some optional options to cut time.

So, what’s YOUR food crush? 

vietnamese crepesOver-stuffed Vietnamese Crepes with Chilli-Lime Dipping Sauce

This Week in 2011: Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade (sunshine in a jar)

This Week in 2012: Mediterranean Sauteed Artichoke Pasta with ‘Poor Man’s Parmesan’ 

Miss R’s Track of the Week: Ellie Goulding’s cover of Alt-J’s Tessellate

Please, please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. Nor by my long-winded pedantic instructions. These veganised Vietnamese crepes – or bánh xèo (pronounced bahn say-oh) – are really easy to make, and even easier to eat. The key is to have everything chopped and waiting. 

 You can make the batter and dipping sauce ahead of time (even overnight) and fry up when you are ready. They are best freshly made and served as they come out of the pan, but are perfectly fine with a brief spell in a low oven. Non-vegans/vegetarians may like to use prawns or a combination of prawns and tofu. Traditionally, pork and prawns are used (as well as less vegetation – I go a bit wild), but these crispy yet moist crepes are so flavourful that even confirmed meat eaters will not miss the meat. 

This recipe is influenced by numerous recipes, including this one from theKitchn.


Crepe Batter

200g (1 ½ cups) rice flour (I used brown, but Doves is good; US brand King Arthur too)
1 tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed/canola oil OR coconut oil
½ tsp finely chopped lime leaves (optional but delicious)
the greens from 2 spring onions/scallions – finely sliced
150ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk – I used reduced fat
150ml (3/4 cup) cold water
50 ml (1/4 cup) soda water/club soda (add later)

Rapeseed oil OR coconut oil – to cook the crepesvietnamese crepes


2 tsp rapeseed oil/coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or sliced
1 medium red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
75g (1 cup) shiitake OR chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
100g (1 packed cup) mung beansprouts, blanched in boiling water 30 seconds then rinsed in cold water
100g (1/2 cup) edamame OR peas – if frozen, cook briefly and rinse with cool water (optional – add more beansprouts if not using)
200g pack (7 oz) basil tofu (eg Taifun) or plain/marinated/fried tofu*, sliced (see image for guidance on size)
Freshly ground black pepper
Good pinch salt if using plain tofu

Tiny pinch raw sugar (optional)vietnamese crepes

Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)**

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 red chilli, finely minced (deseed if liked) OR 1 tsp garlic-chilli sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce OR soy sauce (light for preference)
50ml (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) fresh lime juice OR rice wine vinegar
50ml (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) water

1 tbsp raw sugarnuoc cham

Herb Salad ‘Bed’: 1 round/butter lettuce, leaves separated; 1 small-medium cucumber (English), peeled, halved and thinly sliced lengthways; 3 carrots, peeled then ‘shaved’ with a  Y peeler, or thinly sliced; 6 radishes, thinly sliced; plenty of washed and dried basil, mint and coriander (about 40g each) – roughly torn. Divide these fresh ingredients between four plates before cooking the crepes and filling.

Making the batter: Add the rice flour, turmeric and salt to a mixing bowl (glass or metal). Whisk thoroughly to distribute then pour in the oil and fold in the lime leaves and spring onions. Gradually add the water and coconut milk, whisking constantly as it will quickly become thick. Let this sit while you get on with the filling and dipping sauce.

Making the dipping sauce: Mix all together and set aside. The sugar will dissolve on its own. Taste and adjust to your own liking. **You could instead dilute down a good  garlic-chilli sauce with lime/rice vinegar and water. For serving children, a loosened sweet chilli dipping sauce would be perfect. 
Making the filling: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy frying pan over a low-medium flame. Add the garlic and sliced onion and turn over in the oil. Pop on a lid, if the pan has one, and let the onions soften for two minutes. Add in the sliced mushrooms and tofu, sautéing for a further few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the tofu has a little colour, stir in the blanched beansprouts and edamame – this will make the filling moister as well as add crunch and pop. Season with pepper and a pinch of sugar; stir, cover and set aside while you make the first crepe. *Tofu can be replaced with prawns or chicken , or a combination of these.  

Making the crepes: Wipe clean the frying pan then heat 1-2 teaspoons (depends on pan size and non-stickness) of oil over a medium flame. Take the jug of batter, give it a good whisk; add in the soda water or 100ml ‘plain’ water and whisk again. Using a soup ladle add a scoop of batter to the hot pan, tilting as you add , until it is evenly distributed. The batter will be ‘holey’ – this is normal, and desirable even.

Fry the crepe for three minutes before laying over one-quarter of the filling onto one half of the crepe. Pop the lid on (if you have one) and let the filling reheat. Remove the lid and, with a spatula, fold the unfilled side over the filled side. Carefully slide onto a herb salad-dressed plate, or onto a baking tray to keep warm in a low oven (100C/212F) while you make the remaining crepes. If you can have two pans on the go that’s ideal, put possibly too stressful!

To serve: Serve the crepes over or alongside the herb salad, and with the punchy dipping sauce – plus loads of napkins. My Miss R likes to use a knife and fork, but traditionally one uses the lettuce leaves and herbs as a wrap to hold the crepe: messy but so fun and delicious! PS you could also serve this with a loosened satay sauce, as well as the nuoc cham.

Serves 4

Note: This recipe is easily halved. The uncooked batter will keep one day in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature and whisk well before using

vietnamese crepes

Similar recipe on food to glow: Tamarind Prawn Summer Rolls

I am sending this over to the fragrant Karen at Lavender and Lovage for her Cooking With Herbs challenge, as well as to the always-accommodating Mark at Javelin Warrior Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays. Please go and visit for loads of herby and made-from-scratch delights.6797570797_5f6497bd2e_z

Cooking with Herbs

51 thoughts on “Over-stuffed Vietnamese Savoury Crepes (vegan and gluten-free)

  1. Chez Foti says:

    Oh these look and sound AMAZING! Big fan of Vietnamese food but can’t say I’ve actually ever made any (hanging head in shame). These pancakes look fragrant, fresh and FAB!

    1. Gosh, you must have been sitting at your computer (phone? tablet?) just as I published! Thanks so much for being my first commenter (always a relief!), and such a nice one too.

      1. Chez Foti says:

        I was! Just turned the reader on and there was your fabulous post!

  2. Shannon says:

    My love affair with Malaysian cuisine began in 1998 when I lived there, and just about everything else became only a close second. I still feel this way though the last local Malaysian restaurant closed its doors here 4 years back. I will wait, My Love, for your return!

    I so miss you Kellie. Blogging has moved down on my list a few numbers, but I’m still a huge fan nevertheless. I see that you’re still cranking out damn good content. Keep it up. If I’m gone, it might be for long, but not forever. Have a great summer!

    1. So great to hear from you, Shannon. Yeah, life can sometimes reorder our priorities, but at least blogging isn’t going anywhere soon so I look forward to your return to dirtnkids and all of your sage advice. And we miss Jean-Francois too! Oh, and Malaysian food is SOOO GOOOD. Luckily we have some good enough restaurants here in Edinburgh. Thanks for taking the time to leave this message x

    2. Shannon says:

      Oh…and YUM. I can see how this scratches all your itches. I’ll stick with the tofu. And I won’t attempt in my tiny apartment kitchen. Will have to wait until the new kitchen is in.

  3. I thought you were still kitchenless – poor you! Try and find a Vietnamese restaurant as this is bound to be on the menu and I’m sure they would leave out the animal bits for you!

  4. Urvashi Roe says:

    Such a great idea. We have something similar using chick pea flour. Does the rapeseed make a huge difference healthwise? i use groundnut or sesame

    1. I like rapeseed oil because of its favourable ratio of monounsaturates to polyunsaturates and saturates, and also for its neutral taste. But groundnut is a pretty good neutral tasting oil too. I tend to just use sesame oil for dressing foods as it has such a low smoke point. Does your recipe with the chickpea flour a socca with Vietnamese flavours and herbs? Of course it will have herbs (durr), as you are Ms Botanical Baker, but ones like mint, basil and coriander? 😀

  5. Oh, my! Everything about this looks wonderful – the crisp, crunch crepe, the luscious filling . . . and that dipping sauce! The final photo of the crepe cradled in a lettuce leaf is the real clincher.

    1. Aw thanks so much 😀 The texture and flavour are quite good, and easy to make if the prep is done. It’s funny you like the last image as it is my wrinkly old hand. Kind of makes me wish I knew Photoshop! Thanks you anyway. I should stop being so paranoid or let my daughter do more shots like that!

      1. Funny, Kellie, I have the same phobia about my hands being photographed. Maybe we should both just get over it.

      2. I will if you will! I really hate mine though. All of those years in the Florida sun have caught up with them…

      3. Riding a bicycle year-round and washing my hands 120 times a day have taken a toll as well. I’ll promise to think about it!

  6. The crepes are beautiful, Kellie! And I love the vegan filling option with sprouts, mushrooms and tofu. Very tasty… If I had to pick a single cuisine, it would be Italian and if I had to pick a single savory dish, it would probably be wood-fired pizza (or flatbread). A simpleton, I know 😉

    1. No, a wood-fired pizza is a thing of beauty. It is so easy to get wrong, and be fobbed off in restaurants with substandard doughy flabby examples, that a truly fabulous one is amazing. I am trying to convince my husband to make me a bread/pizza oven in the back garden. Wish me luck with that one! PS thanks as always for your generous Made With Love Mondays! PPS just saw your email.I will get back to you v soon

  7. narf77 says:

    Ok that’s 2 for 2. I am going to have to start hunting back through your blog posts to find the most amazing music on the planet song by song. Thankyou for sharing that gorgeous songbird with us all. I discovered her all by myself about a month ago but methinks it is time to revisit Ellie now. I hadn’t heard that version of Tesselate before…gorgeous and ethereal and aural bliss…the crepes aren’t bad either 😉

    1. Glad to be of service.This time it was my daughter who choose the track. Last week I had horned in on her job but she was suitably impressed with my find. I hope you haven’t sold any of your children in the pursuit of Beth Hart’s back catalogue. They come in handy when we are old. So I am told ;D

      1. narf77 says:

        The son-and-heir is a tax accountant…might keep him ;). I am currently sitting here at 5.52am luxuriating in the blissful silkiness that is Ellie Goulding. Thank your daughter for me and give her my kudos. I am just about to head out and purchase Alt – J’s album. Amazing music… beautiful stuff…I am wondering how far this winning streak you are on can last? It’s a challenge! 🙂 By the way we got 2 of Beth Hart’s albums and Steve is officially addicted to Joe. Even liked his Facebook page in time to get a free album download…your timing was impecable there 😉

      2. My daughter wants to eventually go into music production so she knows her stuff. Even if the streak doesn’t continue we are still thrilled to get such amazing feedback thus far. Although we are only three of us, the house thrums with music, either from an instrument or the internet. Enjoy your choices! Good to hear your son is a keeper. I wonder if he knows how close he was to being traded!

  8. What a wonderful dis. A delicious crisp pancake packed full of goodies that I would love and always love a dipping sauce such as nuoc cham. I think you are right, kids could enjoy food like this as they could just chose what to stuff their own pancakes with and in fact they seem to love crunchy veggies that have just been fired briefly. So do I!

  9. Tracy says:

    This looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it out. Your questions on what food/s set you alight made me realise I had forgotten some stars. My first thought was Vietnamese, but then you mentioned Malaysian, then Thai sprung to mind and my mouth started watering. Thank you for piqueing my memory and reminding me of all the wonderful quisine’s out there.

    1. I may be going to the Far East next year (fingers crossed) pretty much just to eat! I am slightly apprehensive as to the ‘protein’ on offer but I’m looking forward to trying a whole new cornucopia of produce and the amazing herbs. I love all of the cuisines you mention

  10. Kellie this looks and sounds delicious! I would like one right now for brunch! Interesting recipe that you have developed here. I could probably make one of these with buckwheat perhaps? Vietnamese is among my favourite foods…. right now I have a thing for soft shell crab!

    1. Buckwheat, but Urvashi (Botanical Baker) mentions chickpea. This recipe may be a bit summery for you now but I’d like to think it would make you feel like you are on holiday. I hope you are continuing to get better. So frustrating when the mind is ahead of the body!

  11. Alexia @ NamasteYoga says:

    at the moment vietnamese is my favourite cuisine! i am absolutely crazy about fresh summer rolls, a delicious cary (as they call their curry), rice noodle b owl with 1 zillion toppings or crepe. i have actually never ordered the crepe myself but seen it on tables next to me and have been thinking about getting it next time and then next time.. etc u know how it is.. i keep sticking to my favourite things and should actually try a crepe at least for ONCE! anyways urs def sounds amazing and so easy to make! i am a big fan already and will make it at home as soon as possible!!

    1. Oh, first get it at the restaurant for the real experience (preceded by summer rolls!). My recipe is way veggier than is usual but that’s the great thing about making something yourself. You can customise to your heart’s delight without looking like a fusspot.

  12. Sounds pretty amazing! I have a major food crush on all foods that are East Asian!

    1. I think there are a lot of us out there.

  13. Oh wow, thanks for this great recipe. I love this dish, and have drooling dreams of it days after eating it. Now I can try it at home, thanks Kellie 🙂

    1. And are you very surprised there is no egg in the batter?…This would be such a great dish with all your home grown goodies. How are those cukes coming on?

      1. Yes, no egg…who would have thought!
        The cukes have suddenly sprouted tendrils and seem to be growing a foot a day, and they are covered in yellow flowers….not long now:-)

  14. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    Fantastic recipe Kellie! I’m a huge fan of Vietnamese cuisine and although I’ve eaten the crepes in restaurants, I’ve never thought to make them at home. Yours looks so fresh and full of flavour. I feel better already for just looking at it!

  15. Tried to comment earlier today, but it wasn’t letting me….All I can say now, is that these crepes look absolutely amazing!!!!

    1. Thanks EA. Loving your melon mojito recipe!

  16. If that what over stuffed crepes looks like Kellie, count me in every time! Such an inventive and tasty looking recipe, and with fabulous use of herbs too, thanks for adding this super recipe to the cooking with herbs challenge,Karen

  17. ~ Phuong ~ says:

    Your banh xeo is fantastic looking, Kellie, you’re making me missing home real bad. I’m a Vietnamese and your recipe is as close as it can get to the authentic ones that I always have back home, even thoug I still prefer the original pork & prawn version 🙂

    1. Thank you, Phuong. I suspect you are being kind but I’ll take the compliment anyway!

  18. Hi Kellie, I absolutely adore Vietnamese food – it’s my favourite Asian cuisine. I’ve had these pancakes in Hue, where they originate, and they were fantastic.

    1. well you are ahead of me there. I hope to go to Vietnam and Cambodia next year for a ‘significant’ birthday. I will probably find that mine are nothing like the real thing. But we like these anyway. For now! I might come back with all kinds of new ideas (I certainly expect to. Hope to!)

  19. Wow, I’m really excited to try these I didn’t realise they were gluten free. More importantly they look religious, thanks for the recipe!

  20. sylviadewy says:

    Such a perfect and healthy recipe for breakfast.. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting Sylvia. I have just had an unhealthy breakfast at the Wolseley, in central London. But oh my it was delicious! Omelette Benedict Arnold – their cholesterol-bomb specialty. Once a year treat 🙂

      1. sylviadewy says:

        Hehehe.. Committing sins once in a while is absolutely okay!! I like to cheat at times in my diet too 😉

        And egg bendicts.. yummmm 😛

        You know I got this perfect recipe of egg benedict, hope you will like it too –

  21. Kellie, I don’t know if you can tell, but my husband is out of town for a few days and I’m trying a bunch of your recipes. Yesterday it was the Jerk Paneer. Tonight I made these crepes. I liked them very much. I love the way your recipes have tons of flavors and textures (crisp radish, smokey cilantro, smooth tofu, etc.). In the crepe recipe, I have one question, Either you or one of your responders mentioned crisp crepes. Were they supposed to be crisp? Mine were tasty but they were not foldable like an egg-based crepe. They reminded me more of a cici-flour based crepe. Maybe I didn’t cook them long enough? I added plain water, not the soda water – would that matter? I’m at 6000 altitude, but I doubt that would matter……..

    Tomorrow I’m making Indonesian Tofu Fried Rice.

    1. Hi Linda. No, I didn’t realise but I did have a wee laugh! I take it he is a steak and potatoes guy? So funny! I’m super excited that you are having a bit of a food to glow marathon, and also letting me know about it. Just feeling a bit guilty for some of the ingredients you ate needing to track down 😉 Regarding the crepes, I’m wondering if it’s a pan temperature issue? It if you think they should be super pliable like an egg-based one? With this type you can only get one fold, and even that can crack or misbehave a bit – that’s normal. So if that’s what happened you did it perfectly! I usually get lacy edges and softer interior, but that’s with loads of practise (the sacrifices I make!). I hope you love the Indonesian fried rice. It makes a great leftovers breakfast too! Thanks Linda x

  22. media609tlc says:

    Reblogged this on appalachianspamagazine and commented:
    I enjoy your recipes. Great and Healthy

  23. katelon says:

    Reblogged this on Empower and Balance and commented:
    I used to have Vietnamese landlords and occasionally they would take me out to eat at a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant. These crepes were my favorite! Enjoy!

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