Banh Xeo pancakes - eat them with your hands, Hoi An style (dreamstime)
Blog Words : Food & Drink | 05 March

3 suppers from Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An on Vietnam’s central coast, voted as the best city in the world in the 2013 Wanderlust Readers’ Awards, is a foodie hotspot. Here's how to cook up your own feast at home

1. Cao Lau

Serves: 4

Cao Lau is a Vietnamese pork and noodle dish found only in Hoi An. The legend goes that this dish can only be cooked with water from Ba Le Well, an ancient well of the Cham people but here we share a simpler recipe for you to try at home.

Ingredients:

3 cups pork stock
500g rice noodles

Marinade for pork:

500g pork rump
150ml soy sauce
100g onions, sliced
½ tsp Chinese five-spice seasoning
2 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tsp sugar

Garnish:

A handful of each of the following herbs: coriander, basil and mint
200g salad leaves
200g bean sprouts
1 chilli, chopped
Lemon wedges
Tep gion (Cao Lau croutons which is ravioli dough fried), replace with poppadom or fried wonton dough in 1cm squares

1. Marinate the pork with the garlic, onion, five-spice, sugar and soy sauce for about 30mins.

2. In a hot pan, sear the pork well on all sides. Add in the marinade and simmer for a few minutes to allow the liquid to reduce.

3. Add two cups of the stock, then simmer the pork for 60 minutes until sauce is further reduced and the meat glazed. Remove the pork and set it aside. Once cool, slice thinly.

4. Fry the poppadom/wonton dough in a light oil, then set aside on kitchen paper.

5. Add one cup of stock to the pan and bring it to the boil. Blanche the bean sprouts in the stock for 30 seconds, then add the noodles for two to three minutes.

6. Remove the noodles and bean sprouts and strain well.

7. Divide the salad leaves, noodles and bean shoots between four bowls. Top with pork slices and herbs. Ladle some of the remaining stock over the pork and garnish with chopped chilli, the poppadom/fried wonton dough and a squeeze of lemon.

2. Banh Xeo pancake

Serves: 4

Named for the ‘ssssssst’ sound the crepe’s batter makes when it hits the hot pan, these Vietnamese savoury pancakes are originally from the south of the country. In Hoi An, this smaller version is meant to be eaten with your hands.

Ingredients:

150g rice flour
100ml coconut cream
100ml water
1 egg
¼ tsp turmeric powder
50g spring onion
1 tbs vegetable oil
100g pork shoulder, sliced
16 small cooked prawns
200g bean sprouts
1 green banana, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 star fruit, sliced
Mixed herbs for garnish (lemon basil, coriander, mint)

Sweet and sour fish sauce for dipping:

1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
1.5 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp water
1 tsp red chili, chopped
1 garlic glove, chopped

1. Combine flour, turmeric, water, egg, spring onion and coconut cream in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge for one hour or overnight to rest.

2. Heat a 20cm (base measurement) non-stick frying pan over high heat. Lightly brush pan with oil.

3. In another pan cook your pork shoulder slices.

4. When very hot add in a ladle of the batter mixture and tilt pan, swirling batter to cover base. Cook for approx two minutes or until underside is golden.

5. Place two slices of pork and two prawns on half the pancake. Top with bean sprouts and cook with lid on for one minute. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

6. Repeat with the remaining oil, flour mixture, pork, prawn and bean sprouts.

7. Add green banana, cucumber and star fruit if available, mixed herbs and roll up.

8. Serve with the sweet and sour fish sauce for dipping.

3. Sautéed beef with mango

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

130g beef (striploin or sirloin)
½ green mango
½ ripe mango 
20g chilli
20g ginger 
20g garlic
1 tsp fish sauce
100ml cooking oil
2 tbsp soy sauce 
Mixed herbs: coriander, basil, mint

1. Slice finely the beef and then marinate with chilli, soy sauce, ginger, fish sauce and garlic for at least 30 minutes.

2. Slice the two mangoes into thin batons.

3. Heat the oil in a wok and sautéed the beef for two minutes.

4. Add the mango and cook for another two minutes.

5. Serve with steamed rice and the mix herbs on the side.

These three traditional recipes have been provided by David Lacroix, the executive chef at one of the town’s original hotels, the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa