Eric Wolfinger
Charles Phan's Bánh Bèo: Steamed Rice Cakes with Mung Beans & Shrimp
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Bánh Bèo: Steamed Rice Cakes with Mung Beans & Shrimp

Vietnamese Home Cooking , Charles Phan / December 2012

Adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan.

For 90 pieces (requires advance preparation)

Flavored fish sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 Thai chiles, stemmed and minced

Mix fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water in small bowl; stir until sugar has dissolved; add garlic and chiles; stir well; place in airtight container; cover; reserve in refrigerator.

Scallion oil:

  • 1 cup scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Mix scallions, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl; heat oil in small saucepan set over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking; pour over scallions (mixture will sizzle vigorously); stir gently; cool; place in airtight container; cover; reserve in refrigerator.

Crispy fried shallots:

  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups shallots, thinly sliced
  1. Heat oil in small saucepan set over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 275°F; add shallots; cook, stirring, until brown (about 8 minutes); remove with a spider; place shallots on plate lined with paper towels to drain, using a spider; reserve.

  2. Increase heat to high; heat oil until thermometer registers 350°F; add shallots; cook just until crispy and brown, watching carefully so shallots don’t burn (1 to 2 seconds); immediately pour oil through fine chinois into airtight container; place shallots on plate lined with paper towels; cover oil; reserve for another use; reserve shallots.

Rice cake batter:

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat starch
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups warm water

Whisk flour, starch, sugar, and salt in a bowl; add water; whisk until smooth; cover with plastic wrap; reserve.

Assembly:

  • 1/2 cup dried mung beans, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
  • 1 1/2 tsps. sesame seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup white bread, cut into 1/8" cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried shrimp, soaked in cold water overnight, drained, and pounded in a mortar with a pestle until fluffy
  • nonstick cooking oil spray
  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; add mung beans; cook until very tender (about 5 minutes); remove from heat; drain; spread out beans in single layer on paper towels to absorb excess liquid; once dried, place in a bowl; finely chop 1 Tbsp. fried shallots; add to bowl along with 1 1/2 tsps. shallot oil, sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix well; cover with plastic wrap; reserve.

  2. Heat oil in small sauté pan set over medium-high heat; add bread cubes; cook, stirring until brown (3 to 4 minutes); place on plate lined with paper towels, using slotted spoon; reserve; pour off all but 1 Tbsp. oil from pan; add shrimp; cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted (about 10 minutes); place in small bowl with slotted spoon; reserve.

  3. Coat 12-cup standard muffin pans and baking sheets with cooking spray; reserve.

  4. Set roasting pan over 2 burners at high heat; add water to reach 3/4" up sides of pan; lightly whisk reserved batter; pour 1 Tbsp. batter into each muffin cup; when water is boiling, add muffin pan to roasting pan; cover roasting pan tightly (a baking sheet or aluminum foil work well); steam until cakes are just set (they will pull away from sides of pan and take on a shiny appearance; about 1 1/2 minutes); touch top with finger, if sticky, recover; cook 15 to 30 seconds; remove muffin pan from roasting pan; unmold cakes with a spoon or small offset spatula; place on prepared baking sheet; repeat steaming process until all of rice batter has been used, coating muffin cups with nonstick spray between batches and adding water to roasting pan as needed.

  5. To serve, top each cake with 1 tsp. mung bean mixture; top with 1/8 tsp. toasted shrimp; drizzle with scallion oil and bread cubes; divide among plates for serving; place fish sauce in small serving bowls to serve alongside for dipping.