Bánh Bèo Recipe

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Vietnamese Banh Beo (Bánh Bèo) is a type of steamed rice cake with savory toppings in Vietnam. It is a well-liked Vietnamese snack and street food.

From the central part of the country, Banh Beo has spread northward and southward and even transcended borders to become popular worldwide.

Each serving of Banh Beo is a small, snow-white rice cake topped with a rich mixture of meat and enjoyed with a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. The description sounds simple, but the enjoyment this dish bestows doesn’t.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about Banh Beo, such as the customs associated with it, primary tools and ingredients for making Banh Beo, how to make Banh Beo from scratch, and must-know tips. Many exciting facts are waiting for you to discover!

Banh Beo1

What Is So Interesting About Banh Beo?

Banh Beo is a famous dish from Thua Thien – Hue province, which was the capital of Vietnam’s last dynasty and a culinary center. It consists of three parts: the delicate white cake, the shrimp-based topping, and the dipping sauce.

Its name is literally “duckweed cake” or “water fern cake,” possibly due to the similar shape. While Banh Beo is mainly a snack and street food, many locals in Hue like to have it as a main dish for lunch and dinner. The most usual time to eat it is after 3 PM.

“Banh beo” is also a prevalent slang term in Vietnamese. If a girl or woman is described as a “banh beo,” she is too girly or weak-willed to the point of silly. It is like the opposite of a Mary Sue.

Are There Other Varieties Of Banh Beo?

Yes, Banh Beo comes in many versions throughout Vietnam. The classic one from Hue is topped mainly with shrimp. In northern Vietnam, the topping relies heavily on pork. Banh Beo in the central Vietnamese provinces uses pork, shrimp, and wood ear mushrooms for the toppings.

Meanwhile, the version in southern Vietnam can contain mashed mung beans and is rather sweet. In terms of size, the Hue-style Banh Beo is smaller than the rest.

This article will introduce you to the central Vietnamese version of Banh Beo. It is very similar to the original in Hue, but it is heartier and more filling.

How To Enjoy Banh Beo Like A Local?

Authentic Banh Beo in Hue and Central Vietnam is prepared and served in individual small dishes that look like condiment bowls.

To enjoy them, you should pour the sauce over a cake before using a spoon or a chopstick to scrape it out of its dish. While the cake may be small, the etiquette is not to eat more than one cake at a time.

Alternatively, you can just transfer the rice cake to a separate dish and dip it in the sauce.

What Tools Should I Have To Make Banh Beo?

You don’t have to use complex gadgets to prepare Banh Beo at home. I bet you already have the necessary equipment in the kitchen.

  • Small dishes: For cooking and serving Banh Beo. As for the size, you should be able to put 5 – 6 dishes in the steamers at once. Small serving bowls or appetizer plates will fit the bill nicely.
  • Steamer: For cooking Banh Beo. There are many kinds of steamers, from stainless steel to bamboo ones. I work with the former.
  • Non-stick skillet: For preparing the topping.
  • Ladle: For mixing the batter and transferring it to the dishes to make the cakes.
  • Spatula: For moving and flipping the ingredients while cooking the toppings.
  • Mixing bowl: For creating the batter. If you don’t have a specialized bowl for this task, substitute it with a large bowl.
Banh Beo Tools

What Are The Main Ingredients Of Banh Beo?

The ingredient list for Banh Beo may seem pretty overwhelming at first, but I guarantee you that many items in it are already in your pantry. Let’s check them out.

For The Rice Cakes

  • Rice flour: The most important part of the batter. It looks similar to sticky rice flour, which results in an unsuitable texture for Banh Beo, so you should ensure that you’ve got the right one.
  • Tapioca starch: For thickening and softening the texture of the cakes. But only a small amount is necessary: too much tapioca starch will result in squishy cakes.
  • Water: You will need both hot water and room-temperature water.
  • Lemon juice: For deodorizing the batter. While the smell of rice flour and tapioca starch is very faint, some people may not like it. Lemon juice will take care of that, but feel free to omit it if you have no problem with the smell of the rice batter.
  • Vegetable oil: For increasing the moistness of the batter as well as preventing the batter from sticking to the steamer or dishes.

For The Toppings

  • Minced shrimp: Fresh shrimp are the ideal ingredient, but you can also mince dried shrimp that have been soaked in water. Put the shrimp in a food processor and run until you get a chunky paste. Shrimp floss is a good substitute for minced shrimp.
  • Minced pork: Many Vietnamese Banh Beo recipes use pork belly or pork shoulder for minced pork. These two cuts have a suitable amount of fat that ensures the topping is moist, flavorful, and not too greasy. But you can use leaner cuts to reduce the fat content.
  • Minced shallots: For adding a slight sharpness and sweetness to the toppings.
  • Minced garlic: For making the aroma of the toppings more appealing.
  • Annatto powder: For imparting an appealing brownish-orange color to the mixture. You can replace it with annatto oil.
  • Sugar: For balancing the richness of the mixture. Brown sugar is my favorite option.
  • Black pepper: For adding a slight spiciness and warmth to the mixture.
  • Vietnamese fish sauce: For adding an umami flavor to the mixture.
  • Tapioca starch and water: The mixture helps bind the ingredients together and thicken the toppings.

For The Garnish

  • Garlic and chili sauce: This famous Vietnamese dipping sauce is a must-have condiment for Banh Beo. Besides minced garlic and chili peppers, it should also contain sugar and lemon juice to have a sweet-and-sour flavor profile.
  • Scallions and oil garnish: You can prepare a large batch of scallions and oil garnish in Vietnamese style and save it for later.
  • Fried shallots: For topping the cakes

How Can I Prepare Banh Beo At Home?

The process of creating home-made Banh Beo involves making the rice batter, cooking the toppings while waiting for the batter to rest, completing the batter with hot batter, steaming the cakes, and finishing them with toppings. It is actually easier than it sounds!

Step 1: Prepare The Rice Batter

Add rice flour, tapioca starch, and room-temperature water to the mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly.
Add lemon juice and continue stirring until all the ingredients are well combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Rather than plastic wrap, you can also use reusable proving cloth or a large tea towel to cover the bowl.

Banh Beo Step 1 Prepare the Rice Batter

Step 2: Prepare The Toppings

Heat vegetable oil in the skillet. Sauté minced shallots and minced garlic in it until fragrant.

Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings

Add minced pork and cook for 2 minutes. Stir constantly.

Add minced shrimp and continue stirring.

Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings1

Add annatto powder, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce, and some water to the skillet.

Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings2

Dissolve tapioca starch in a small amount of room-temperature water and add the mixture slowly to the skillet. Stir well to combine.

Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings3

Cook for another 2 minutes or until the consistency suits your preference.

Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings4

Step 3: Complete The Batter

Stir the batter thoroughly while slowly adding hot water to the bowl. This step ensures that the finished rice cakes will have a soft and smooth texture.

Add vegetable oil to the batter.

Banh Beo Step 3 Complete the Batter

Step 4: Cook The Rice Cakes

Put the filled steamer on the stovetop. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Preheat the small dishes in the basket for 3 minutes.

Banh Beo Step 4 Cook the Rice Cakes

When the dishes are hot enough, fill each of them with a suitable amount of batter. Don’t add too much batter, or the cakes will be excessively thick.

Banh Beo Step 4 Cook the Rice Cakes1

Put on the lid and steam for 7 minutes.

Take the dishes out of the steamer. Repeat the process until the batter runs out.

Banh Beo Step 4 Cook the Rice Cakes2

Step 5: Assemble The Steamed Rice Cakes

Top each rice cake with some fried shallots, scallions and oil garnish, and bits of the pork and shrimp mixture.

Serve the rice cakes hot with the garlic chili sauce on the side.

Banh Beo Step 5 Assem the Steamed Rice Cakes

Are There Tips To Get Perfect Banh Beo?

Yes, there are a few things you should keep in mind to get the best Banh Beo, such as cooking the topping ingredients in the right order, stirring the batter regularly, cooking on high heat, etc. I will also show you how to determine the doneness of the rice cakes and ways to repair a runny batter.

  • Cook in the right order: pork takes more time to cook than shrimp, so it must go in first.
  • Stir the batter: before pouring the batter into the heated dishes, you should give it a good stir to keep lumps of flour from sinking to the bottom.
  • Heat and steam: always steam over high heat and fill the steamer and add enough water to the steamer (at least one-third of its volume). With sufficient steam, each rice cake will have a pretty coin-like impression on the surface.
  • How to tell if the rice cakes are done: Pierce them with a toothpick or a small knife. If its head comes out dry, your steamed cakes are ready.
  • How to fix a runny batter: you can simply add more rice flour to the batter. Another way is to cover the batter with a clean, dry towel and leave it for 30 – 45 minutes. Repeat the process if the batter is still runny.
Banh Beo3

What Sides Can I Enjoy With Banh Beo?

Dishes that can go with Banh Beo are a matter of personal preference. Vietnamese people in different places have different choices. You can try the following options and see which one is your favorite.

Central Vietnamese folks like crispy fried pork rinds. Meanwhile, people in southern Vietnam have many more choices, like pickles, mung beans, Banh Bot Loc (clear-looking steamed dumplings), Banh It Tran (sticky rice dumplings), etc.

When it comes to drinks, iced tea, green tea, and iced coffee go wonderfully with Banh Beo.

How To Store And Reheat Banh Beo?

While Banh Beo is easy to spoil at room temperature, it can last for several days in the fridge and two to three months in the freezer. I recommend keeping the rice cakes and toppings in separate containers.

You don’t even have to remove the rice cakes from their dishes: if the dishes are clean enough, just put everything in an airtight container and move it to the fridge. But in case the dishes aren’t freezer-friendly, scooping out the rice cakes is a must.

To reheat Banh Beo, put the rice cakes with toppings in a microwave with a small dish of water, and reheat them for a few minutes. Even better, you can use a steamer to reheat Banh Beo.

What Are Other Vietnamese Dishes That I Can Try?

You can try other well-known Vietnamese street food items + (Vietnamese street food) like Banh Khot, Banh Cuon, and Goi Cuon or delicacies from Central Vietnam like Bun Bo Hue and Mi Quang. Here is what you need to know about them.

  • Banh Khot (mini savory pancakes): This famous snack and street food hails from Vung Tau province in southern Vietnam. It has a small size, savory shrimp-based toppings, and a rich dipping sauce like Banh Beo. But Banh Khot is crispier and more seafood-heavy.
  • Banh Cuon (steamed rolled cakes): While Banh Cuon is of northern Vietnamese origin, you can find it in street food stalls and restaurants all over the country. Each serving consists of a rice flour-based sheet rolled over minced pork, mushrooms, and herbs.
  • Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls): A classic Vietnamese street food, Goi Cuon is also suitable for snacks and main meals. It is made with rice paper, boiled pork, boiled shrimp (optional), rice noodles, various herbs, and a tasty peanut-based dipping sauce.
  • Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Vietnamese beef noodle soup): This noodle dish is another wonderful recipe from Hue. It is very spicy and hearty, thanks to using a lot of spices and various savory foods made from pork.
  • Mi Quang (Quang noodles with shrimp and pork belly): Quang Nam province is a neighboring province of Hue, and its cuisine shares some similarities. You can see it in this delicacy, a combo of flat rice noodles, many types of proteins, toasted sesame rice crackers, herbs, and a turmeric-flavored broth.

Do You Want To Enjoy Banh Beo Today?

You don’t have to be a master chef to say yes to this question! With the right ingredients, equipment, and a little practice, you can easily bring a piece of Vietnamese imperial cuisine to your kitchen. It’s time to dazzle your family and friends with these cute-looking rice cakes!

But don’t keep the recipe to yourself. I’m sure your loved ones will appreciate it very much if you share this recipe with them. In case you have questions to ask about Banh Beo or great tips to share, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Banh Beo

Vietnamese Steamed Rice Cakes With Savory Toppings (Bánh Bèo)

There are many versions of Banh Beo; some are easy to whip up but not very tasty, while others are the opposite. Allow me to give you a recipe that balances ease and deliciousness.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main dish, Snack
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 528kcal

Ingredients

For the rice cakes

  • 8.8 ounces 250 grams rice flour
  • 1 ounce 30 grams tapioca starch
  • 350 ml room-temperature water
  • 350 ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the topping:

  • 7 ounces 200 grams minced shrimp
  • 12.3 ounces 350 grams minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1.5 teaspoon annatto powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
  • 20 ml room-temperature water

Garnish

  • Sweet-and-sour garlic and chili pepper sauce
  • Scallions and oil garnish
  • Fried shallots

Instructions 

  • In the mixing bowl, stir rice flour, tapioca starch, room-temperature water, and lemon juice thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
    Banh Beo Step 1 Prepare the Rice Batter
  • In the skillet, sauté minced shallots and minced garlic in oil until fragrant.
    Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings
  • Add minced pork and cook for 2 minutes. Stir constantly. Add minced shrimp and continue stirring.
    Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings1
  • Add annatto powder, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce, and some water to the skillet.
    Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings2
  • Dissolve tapioca starch in a small amount of room-temperature water and add the mixture slowly to the skillet. Stir well to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes.
    Banh Beo Step 2 Prepare the Toppings4
  • Stir the batter thoroughly while slowly adding hot water to the bowl. Add vegetable oil to the batter.
    Banh Beo Step 3 Complete the Batter
  • Put the filled steamer on the stovetop. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Preheat the small dishes in the basket for 3 minutes.
    Banh Beo Step 4 Cook the Rice Cakes
  • Fill each dish with a suitable amount of batter. Put on the lid and steam for 7 minutes.
  • Take the dishes out of the steamer. Repeat the process until the batter runs out.
    Banh Beo Step 4 Cook the Rice Cakes2
  • Top each rice cake with some fried shallots, scallions and oil garnish, and bits of the pork and shrimp mixture. Serve with the garlic chili sauce on the side.
    Banh Beo Step 5 Assem the Steamed Rice Cakes

Video

Notes

  • The instructions are for preparing 4 servings.
  • Don’t pour too much batter into the dishes, or the cakes will be excessively thick.
  • Always add minced pork before minced shrimp.
  • Stir the batter carefully right before pouring it into the heated dishes.
  • Steam over high heat and fill the steamer and add enough water to the steamer (at least one-third of its volume).
  • To determine if the rice cakes are done, you can poke them with a toothpick or a small knife. The cakes are ready if the toothpick/ knife comes out clean.
  • To fix a runny batter, you can add more rice flour to the batter or cover the batter with a clean, dry towel and leave it for 30 – 45 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 528kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 754mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
Tien - Alden

Tien – Alden

Content Writer

Expertise

Home Cooking, Recipe Development, Food Editor, Beverage Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Asian Food Content Creator

Education

Saigon Tourism College

  • Program: Certificate in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines.

Advanced Culinary Workshop, Beijing

  • Program: A three-month intensive program of Advanced Culinary Workshop
  • Focus: Authentic Chinese cuisine.

Vietnamese Traditional Cooking School

  • Program: Certificate of Vietnamese Traditional Cooking
  • Focus: A specialized course on traditional and family recipes passed down through generations.

American College of Vietnam

  • Program: Bartender
  • Focus: Provide background knowledge and help students confident to create appealing drinks

Alden is a skilled chef with expertise in Asian cuisines, known for blending traditional Vietnamese and Chinese cooking with contemporary innovations. Alden’s passion for Asian flavors and her creative approach to both food and beverages inspires fellow chefs and those aspiring to enter the field.

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