Banh Cuon or Steamed Rice Roll is a light, delicate, and yet flavorful dish among Vietnamese street food.
Banh cuon is a very light crepe often with ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, and onions and eaten with Vietnamese ham (cha lua), steamed bean sprouts, and cucumbers.
Another variation arising from a village in Northern Vietnam famous for their banh cuon is called banh cuon “Thanh Tri” a style where the crepe is not rolled but kept in sheets without any filling, and sprinkled with fried onions.
Vietnamese “banh cuon” is different from the rice rolls found at anywhere else. The reason for this thinness is the process of how it’s made. Banh cuon can be made extremely thin because it’s steamed over a fabric covered pot which can quickly cook the rice flour, keeping it moist and workable. A very thin layer of batter is poured on to the cloth and evenly spread and steams paper thin, and in less than a minute, a flat and flexible bamboo stick is used to lift off the delicate rice crepe.
Gordon Ramsay once visited Vietnam in his Gordon’s Great Escape show and came to Mai Chau in the north and learned how to cook banh cuon from the local. Unfortunately, he seemed to struggle making the dish after many attempts. He tried his hands on lifting off the crepe from the steamer and messed up quite a few because of his impatient.
See how extremely thin and translucent the steamed rice roll is?
Vietnamese Steam Rice Roll Recipe
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 teaspoons pork seasoning powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small jicama, diced
- 1 cup dried Wood Ear mushroom (soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain then mince)
Marinate the ground pork with seasoning powder, salt, sugar, and pepper. In a large pan, heat up the vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add ground pork, jicama and mushroom. Then break up the chunks of ground pork with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring and tossing until pork is all the way cooked through (about 10 minutes).
- 1 standard size bag of Steamed Rice Roll / Banh Cuon Flour
- 5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Add everything in a medium-size bowl and stir until dissolved.
Steaming the Rice Flour
A good non-stick frying pan is a must to make Banh Cuon since the rice flour is really delicate and sticky. Brush on a very light layer of oil and ladle on the well-mixed batter and immediately tilt and swirl the pan around to evenly coat the pan, then pour a little batter into a hot pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Again, if it’s a really good non-stick pan, no oil will be needed. Cover with lid and let it steam for about 2 minutes for each roll. Once done, flip the cooked rice flour onto a plate. Top with the pork and then roll.
Top the rolls with pork terrine, fresh herbs, bean sprouts, fried shallots and cucumber. Dress with “nuoc cham” and garnish with sliced chilli. The pork filling can be refrigerated overnight. The crêpe dumplings can stand at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 hours before reheating. Banh Cuon flour is available at specialty food stores. Fried shallots are available at Asian markets.