Woop Woop, I got my first real Vietnamese cooking lesson here in Ho-Chi-Minh City! Around my place over here are a few textile factories and the people that work there come to have lunch in the property of my roommates family. His aunt Thuy is the one cooking the delicious meals for them every day. Together with her daughter Tiu she showed me how to prepare ‘Bánh bột lọc‘, which is a Shrimp & Meat Cake cooked in Banana Leafs. ‘Banh’ actually is the Vietnamese word for ‘Cake’ and indicates a lot of delicious snacks you can get at the sides of every road ;-). This one is a traditional Vietnamese meal coming from Huế, a city in Central Vietnam that is famous though for vegetarian specialties. Tiu told me that they like to eat it many times because it’s so easy to make. Well, for me and I think for you too it will be surprising what flour and water can be transformed to, hehe!
These little cakes could be great for party snacks or as appetizers. They are eaten together with a great sauce, easy to make, I will provide you with this recipe following this post. I have to admit though that the dough of this cake, that has a kind of jelly consistence, is a thing we have to get used to, at least I have to. But I hope I will, because the taste is good, it’s easy to make, so different from what we know in Europe and you can do a lot of variations.
Let’s start with the tasty and actually very simple filling:
You need small shrimps as you can see in the picture and the meat is pork that should have a lot of fat and be sliced thinly. You add only salt and a bit of sugar to that mixture. You fry it up in a special oil, a ‘cashew oil’. I don’t know if you can buy it in stores, here it is homemade and is done with the dark grains you can see in the following picture, they are bought here on markets and cooked up in regular vegetable oil, until the oil gets the desired dark color that is needed for the filling, and then filtered. (I found the oil at this website, just to give you an example:
You add a few spoons of that oil to your pan and fry the filling in it for around 20 to thirty minutes. You can let it cool down and prepare the magic dough!
With the following (this will get you a lot of cakes for a big big party, feel free to reduce):
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
Stir that mixture, here they do it only with chopsticks, I guess you can use different methods. It doesn’t have to be super harmonious, it stays moist and can even get a bit clumpy, doesn’t matter. You heat the dough up for about 5 min stirring continuously, and don’t let it cook!
After that you take a Banana Leaf that should be cut in about 15x20cm sizes and spread about half a spoon of the dough in the middle of it (important: on the flat side, not the one with the riffles), the thinner the tastier it will be. Place 2 to 3 pieces of your shrimps/pork (mix it up!).
Close it having the filling in the middle of the dough, folding a little package out of it.
Nearly there, don’t get tired! Now you only have to steam your little packages for a few minutes (if the water is boiling already, about 5 min) and voilà open up and find this little surprise :-)
Nomnomnom, I hopw you’ll like it! Please give me feedback, if you tried it, I would be very glad to hear about your experience. But to complete the taste of this cake, you need something more: The ‘Nước Mắm Sauce‘