Bánh xèo and post road trip recovery

Somehow April turned into a busy month, much too busy for someone not working! Two weddings, one hen weekend in the Hunter Valley (where I cooked with Alana for 15 hens – bring on the wraps with chilli con veggie), two sets of visitors from Europe, OzHarvest volunteering at the Easter Show and a week long road trip.

Barth and I had decided to drive up to Brisbane for my brother’s wedding.  We packed our bags, grabbed our sleeping bags and tent and headed onto the Pacific Highway late in the day without making any plans.  We decided to stop near Port Stephens on our first night.  It turns out that typing “Port Stephens campground” on Google Maps will not take you to a campground, particularly when your phone goes out of reception halfway down an isolated dirt road.  Who would have thought… Anyway, we finally found a campsite around 10pm where we (and I mean Barth) pitched our tent by torchlight to the sound of roaring waves.  We woke up in the morning in the most beautiful spot in Myall Lakes National Park – enormous sand dunes, huge crashing waves (post-cyclone Ita), long empty beaches.  Very nice, and a great start to our trip after an early morning beach swim.  All the way throughout our drive up the coast, I continued to be impressed by the stunning beauty of the coastline.  Must do another road trip again soon…

Campsite at South West Rocks

Campsite at South West Rocks


Breakfast on the beach

Breakfast on the beach


Chloe and me

My sister Chloe, and me, at our brother’s wedding

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley

Alana and me

Alana and me making our way over to Joanne and Mike’s reception

We are now back in Sydney after a quick dash through a thousand kilometres on Sunday.  Needless to say, I am quite happy to have a week chilling out at home and catching up on things, and finally having time to do some cooking.  As much as I love fish’n’chips on the beach and takeaway Thai, I was feeling the lack of healthy food, and fresh, tasty vegetables.

Bánh xèo

Bánh xèo preparations

So I’ve been on a cooking mission this week, making good use of the new cookbook I (finally!) received earlier in the month: My Darling Lemon Thyme.  I’m a big fan of Emma Galloway’s blog of the same name, and find her recipes give a vegetarian twist on some classics, and are fresh, simple and inspiring. Upon discovering that her children were both gluten and dairy intolerant, she had to adapt her kitchen to cater for their demands (formerly being a pastry chef in Sydney and Byron), so the book is a good resource for those with intolerances.  It is also one of those cookbooks that you’ll cook out of from time and time again.  Its very accessible, and you will feel healthy just reading the recipes.

Nuoc cham

Nuoc cham, the dipping sauce


One of my favourite Vietnamese foods is banh xeo (Vietnamese crispy crepes), and this was one of the first recipes I cooked from Emma’s book.  Its delicious! The recipe serves 3-4.

Banh Xeo

Rolled up and ready to tear off to wrap in the lettuce leaf



  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp celtic salt
  • 1/2 tsp muscovado dark sugar
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2-3 green shoots from spring onion

Dipping sauce

  • 1/4 cup muscovado dark sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celtic salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup light soy or fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 red chilli, finely minced

Bits and pieces

  • 1/2 cup dried mung beans
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 bunch mint leaves
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1-2 brown onions
  • 250g hard tofu
  • Olive oil, for cooking


  1. Prepare the batter by mixing the rice flour, cornflour, salt, sugar and turmeric in a bowl.  Slowly pour in the coconut milk and water and whisk.  Stir in the spring onion shoots and set aside for 30-60 minutes (or longer) in the fridge.
  2. Rinse the mung beans and add to a saucepan with one cup of water.  Bring to the boil, and then simmer on low heat for 25 minutes until cooked.  Once cooked, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  3. While the batter is resting, prepare the dipping sauce by dissolving the sugar and salt in a bowl with the boiling water.  Stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce, and then add the garlic and chilli.  Taste – feel free to add more lemon juice or soy if the sauce isn’t tangy enough.
  4. Wash the lettuce and mint, and put into separate serving bowls.  Finely slice the cucumber (into sticks) and onion (into rings).
  5. Slice the tofu into thick strips and then lightly brown in a frypan with some olive oil.  After tofu is cooked, finely slice into 5mm pieces.
  6. Before you begin to make the crepes, prepare the table setting with the bowl of lettuce, bowl of mint and dipping sauces as the crepes should be served while hot.  Place the remaining prepared ingredients next to the stovetop.
  7. In a non-stick frypan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry a couple of the onion rings on medium heat.  Add a couple of the strips of tofu and then move the onion and tofu to one side of the pan.
  8. Stir the batter, and then ladle a spoon of the batter into the frypan.  Swirl the batter so it thinly covers the entire pan.  Add a small handful of mung beans on top of the onions, and then put the lid on the frypan and let cook for 5-6 minutes.  The crepe should turn golden brown, and the edges should crisp up the side of the frypan.
  9. Before removing the crepe from the pan, add a few slices of cucumber and then fold in half.  Serve immediately, while you start to cook the next crepe.
  10. Eat the crepes by breaking off a piece, folding up in a lettuce leaf with some mint and dip into the dipping sauce.
Bánh xèo and post road trip recovery thumbnail image Vegetarian version of crispy Vietnamese crepes 30min

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