In The Book of Greens, Portland chef Jenn Louis has an answer for anyone going through a case of kale fatigue. It turns out, there are hundreds of ways to cook and eat greens that never even occurred to us.
If you want to impress dinner guests, serve this. I promise you’ll get ooohs and aahhs all around. There are a few tricks to pulling off this recipe, but when done correctly, it’s such a likeable dish, flavor-wise and texture-wise, because of some nontraditional ingredients. A banh xeo is a savory pancake, one of the best things I ate when I traveled to Vietnam. Typically it includes pork, shrimp, and sometimes chicken in the batter. I change things up a little by using bacon instead of pork and adding some ingredients you wouldn’t usually see in Vietnam, like frisée. I like the frilly loftiness that the frisée brings to this dish. That frilliness holds nice texture and volume, playing off the crispiness of the crepe.
Using a good nonstick pan is key to the success of this recipe. The crepe needs to be seared until crispy, yet it needs to slide off the pan easily. Another key is to let the batter sit overnight, so that the rice absorbs moisture and the batter becomes thicker and more conditioned.
- In a small bowl, soak the mung beans in hot water until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer them to a blender. Add the coconut milk and puree until very fine, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer the mung bean puree to a large bowl and whisk in the rice flour, cornstarch, water, half of the green onions, and the turmeric; season with salt. The batter should be very smooth. Let the banh xeo batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to overnight.
- In a large bowl, combine the remaining green onions, the mint, basil, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, and frisée. Toss to combine and set aside.
- Over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 14-inch nonstick skillet. Scatter a few white onion slices around the pan, then lay the slices of bacon equidistant from each side of the pan.
- After 3 to 4 minutes, when the onion is golden and the bacon renders its fat, stir the batter and ladle 2⁄3 cup of it into the pan. Tilt and swirl the pan to coat the bottom with a very thin layer of batter. Drizzle 2 teaspoons vegetable oil around the edges of the crepe, allowing the oil to reach between the bottom of the pan and the crepe. Cover the skillet and cook until the bottom of the crepe is golden and crisp, about 2 minutes.
- Slide the crepe onto a plate and top with one-sixth of the vegetable salad. Gently fold the the crepe in half over the vegetables. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make six crepes.
- Serve the nuoc cham in individual dipping bowls. To eat, tear off a piece of the crepe with the salad filling and place in a lettuce leaf. Dip into the nuoc cham and eat immediately.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chile and stir to combine. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reprinted with permission from The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
The Book of Greens