Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cooking with the Fam: Bánh Bèo with Mẹ

Near the end of August we made our way back home to Nova Scotia before school kicked into gear for both of us. Before we get on with the Bánh Bèo, let's talk about a little something special from Halifax, Nova Scotia. As soon as we got home from the airport, my Mẹ asked me if I was hungry and asked me if I wanted a donair.
Understand that the only place to get a true donair is indeed in Halifax, Nova Scotia and it would be ridiculous to pass up the idea of having one while there.

Hello my old Donair friend. It has been too long. I am also aware that this picture
is of a donair, and not bánh bèo.
A donair is a pile of meat, a dash of chopped onions and tomatoes all wrapped in a thin piece of pita bread and then smothered in the most sinfully sweet sauce known to man kind. We Haligonians also dip cheese covered garlic fingers in this sickeningly rich sauce...and we love every drop. We will further explore when I make donairs here in Montréal.

After I had my heart attack fix for the year, my mom taught me how to make Bánh Bèo. She had asked me what I wanted to make, and I mentioned a few things, and she kept saying how none of those were really that special or difficult. Eventually we settled on this. My aunt gave me a bag of the flour to make these little 'cakes' but I didn't have a steamer until my mom gave me one on my visit home.

Bánh Bèo
Printable Recipe

Steamer Pot
Small flat bowls/dishes (ones used for dipping sauces), or a pan like this.
Cooking oil

Flour Recipe
1 1/2 Cup rice flour
1/2 Cup bot nang or corn starch
2 cup cold water
1 cup hot water
1/2 tsp salt

Green Onion, sliced super thin.
Dried Shrimp, about a rice bowl's worth
Mung Beans about 150g
Nuoc Mam Pha

Soak the shrimp and mung beans for an hour.

In a saucepan, mix the mung beans and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil uncovered, over low-medium heat. Stir gently then cover. Turn heat to very low and cook until mung beans are dry and fluffy. Similar to cooking rice, this should take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

While this is boiling, mix the flour together. Add the 2 cups of cold water. Stir. Add the hot water. Stir and let the batter sit.

Drain shrimp. Blitz in a food processor until it is all shredded up. Fry shrimp in a pan to dry it out. Remove from heat when they are all fluffy and cotton-like. Don't make them crispy and burnt!

Add some water to your Steaming Pot. Get your dishes and brush them with oil. Pour the batter into the moulds. Place them in the steamer.

Steam for 5-6 minutes or until the batter is firm and translucent.
Meanwhile you can prepare the sliced green onions by putting them in a bowl, drizzling with oil and microwaving for about 20 seconds. The quick and easy trick for oily green onions.

Remove the bánh and top them with the mung beans, then the shrimp, then some green onions. Take as many as you want onto your plate and drizzle (or drench) with Nuoc Mam pha. Enjoy.

Most of these pictures were taken with my fancy school iPad, which I got now that I'm teaching again. The quality isn't great but they sure work in a pinch. Speaking of teaching, I've been pretty busy with it recently which puts a lot of the food I've cooked and taken pictures of, on the backburner. Even Gillian had planned on writing a couple of guest posts about some things she was excited about showing everyone, unfortunately her busy student life has stifled hopes of that as well.

So most of the stuff I have been cooking recently isn't even Vietnamese but there is hope for me yet, thanks to my uncle who runs a newspaper called Thoi Bao. He recently asked me to write about food for the new, monthly 'youth' edition. Another opportunity to share food with people? How could I say no, despite the fact that I wouldn't even be able to read 90% of the newspaper it was published in? It also ensures that I make something Vietnamese every month.

The editor of the paper sent me the October edition to show me what the layout looked like for the first one but after I thought about it, I realized the paper can be found online. I'm on page 11, and my cousin of Tofu and Banh Cuon fame did some cute comics for page 10. I've already sent something for the November issue, and I should be posting about it here soon.

Cause you are, a cinema.