Vietspices Search

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bánh Bèo (Steamed Rice Cakes)

click the picture for better image quality

Being the youngest, I've always been spoiled by my family. Since elementary school, getting snack money every morning was my daily treat. I basically could eat anything my tummy desired.

Pleiku, where I grew up, was food heaven for me. It's a small town that attracted wonderful food vendors representing various regions of the country. I still remember all the stands I used to frequent for breakfast, afternoon and late night snacks.


One of my favorite afternoon snacks was bánh bèo (steamed rice cake). And my favorite bánh bèo stand was located right in front of this one house near Chợ Nhỏ, a small market that's located in an alley. It's been so many years but I still recall a huge stone grinder that they had. Whenever we needed to grind rice to make bánh xèo (savory shrimp and bean sprout crepe), we would come here and paid a small fee for the service. The rice was poured along with water into a tall stone grinder which is pulled in a circular motion by hand to produce a milky batter.

Their bánh bèo was served in small ceramic plates, topped with shrimps, fried shallot, and drizzled with sweet savory fish sauce. Those little bánh bèo was packed with enormous flavors. They were irresistible especially when you are sitting and counting every minute for them to come out of the steamer. I ate every little morsel and even drank every drop of fish sauce on that plate. What precious memories huh?

A few years ago, I posted a recipe of bánh bèo (click here) using the dried flour from the store which I am not too fond of as it has the smell of old flour. I didn't know why I waited until now to make my own batter for bánh bèo. The first time I experimented with my own batter using both types of white rice and sweet rice, the result was spectacular. The bánh bèo was so fresh and soft with a big dimple in the middle. It will make you happy just looking at it.

So, I am giving away my bánh bèo recipe. You can purchase the small bánh bèo dishes at World Market (click here). I got 60 of these dishes as gifts from Vietnam. If you can, I recommend soaking both types of white and sweet rice together and grind yourself a fresh batter . The bánh bèo will taste heavenly. The next time when your tummy calls for bánh bèo, I am sure you won't want to use dried flour again.
RECIPE: Bánh Bèo

For Batter 
3 cups Rice, Homai California Calrose Rice
1/4 cup Sweet Rice
6 cups Water
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) Oil
For Toppings
1 pound Shrimps, shell on
1/4 cup Dried Shrimps, optional
3 Slices Sandwiches or Bread, for croutons, optional  or 
1 pound Pork Fat, for fried pork fat, optional
1 bunch of green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, smashed
3-4 Shallots, thinly sliced or
store-bought Crispy Fried Shallots
a pinch of Salt
Olive Oil
For Fish Sauce Dip
recipe 1
1 1/2 cups Shrimp Broth
3 tablespoons Fish Sauce 
2 tablespoons Sugar
1-2 fresh red chilies, thinly sliced
recipe 2
1/4 cup Fish Sauce
3/4 cup Coco Soda
1/4 cup Sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh Lime or Lemon juice
1 Red Chili Pepper
3 cloves of Garlic

Preparing Bánh Bèo Batter

As for rice, I used Homai California Calrose Rice and Koda Farms Sho-Chiku-Bai premium sweet rice. I just happened to have these brands of rice in my pantry but you may try any types of rice you prefer.

Combine the rice in a large bowl.  Rinse a few times until water is cleared.  Soak for at least one hour or overnight. 

Rinse it for the last time.  Drain the rice.  In a Vitamix blender or a high-powered blender or a stone grinder if you have one, add rice, salt with water. Let your blender run at maximum speed of 10 on high for about a minute or until blended. You want to blend the rice as smoothly and finely as possible. 

Slowly pour the batter into the trainer and train it to remove bubbles.  

Add oil and mix well.   Let it sit for at least half an hour to allow the batter to absorb the liquid and the air bubbles to settle before steaming.
Preparing Shrimp Paste Topping

I like the combination of both aromatic and taste of fresh and dried shrimps but using fresh or shrimps alone is good too. 

Preparing dried shrimps - rinse shrimps a few times. Soak it in water for 10-15 minutes until soft. Drain shrimps. You can reserve the water that you soaked the shrimps to make dipping fish sauce. Pound shrimps into a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle.

Preparing fresh shrimps - bring 2 cups of water to a boil (use water from soaking dried shrimp). Add shrimps and cook for a couple minutes until shrimps turn pink. Remove shrimps then peel and reserve the shrimp broth to make dipping fish sauce.

Smash shrimps with a meat tenderizer or the back of the knife. You can also pound shrimps into a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle.

Place a frying pan on low heat, add the crushed dried and fresh shrimps. Use a spatula to mix the shrimps for about 5 minutes or until shrimps are completely dry and bluff.  Set aside.

Preparing Croutons or Fried Pork Fat

Cut bagel, bread or sandwich into small cubes. In a frying pan toss 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and bread cubes. Bring to a medium-low heat. Stir croutons occasionally. Remove the croutons when they are turning golden. Place croutons on a paper towel to absorb the excess of oil.

Another method to make croutons is tossing these pieces of bread with olive oil.  Place them on a tray and toast it in the oven until golden.  Make sure to keep your eyes on it occasionally as they can get burnt quick.

If prefer Fried Pork Fat (Tép Mỡ), click here for recipe.

Preparing Fried Shallot and Green Onion Oil

In a small bowl, add green onion and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

Bring cooking oil to a medium heat.  Once it's hot, add shallots and cook until it slightly turns brown. 

Turn off heat.  Let it cook for a couple minutes until shallot is golden brown.  Don't wait for shallot to turn golden brown and turn off heat as the oil is still very hot and it will burn the shallot very quickly.  Remove fried shallot with a strainer. Set aside.

Pour the hot oil into the green onion bowl. Mix it well. Set aside.

If you use store-bought crispy fried shallots, cook oil in smashed garlic until garlic is just starting to lightly brown. Turn off the heat. Pour the hot garlic oil into the green onion bowl.

Preparing Fish Sauce

recipe 1

recipe 2

Mix all the fish sauce ingredients. Set aside.
Steaming Bánh Bèo

Fill a steamer with 2/3 water and bring to a rapid boil. Place a layer of plates into the steamer for about 30 seconds or until hot. Stir the mix before each use. Fill each plate with 2/3 batter. Cover and steam for about 3 minutes.

Remove rice cakes. Repeat this process until batter is finished.


Top bánh bèo with scallion oil, shrimp paste, crispy shallots, croutons or fried fat pork.

Drizzle or flood with fish sauce. Scoop it out with a teaspoon and thoroughly enjoy!
Eat well.  Stay healthy.


  1. Ms Loan, the recipe was a success! Thank you so very much for sharing.

  2. I followed your direction to a T but I did not get the 'xoan" on the surface of the steamed cake. The texture is perfect though. What did I do wrong?

    1. Was the water rolling boil?
      I missed one step. Place the plates in the steamer for about 30 seconds or until hot them pour the batter in. Try it and let me know. Sorry

  3. Aah yes, the water was rolling boil but i'll place the plates in the steamer for 30 seconds next time. Thank you! one more thing, how long do you let the grain drain before putting it in the blender? you were right , the flavor of the steamed cake is superior compare to the flavor of the dry flour mixture. As always, thank you for taking the time to share your cooking passion with us. We'd love to meet you one day!

    1. I drained it then set up the blender and started to blend it. I hope we have a chance to meet up! :-)

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I love your sweet rice idea. Banh beo tastes divine, even after a good night in fridge :).

  5. Hi there. Would you let me know what is sweet rice in vietnamese?

  6. Sweet rice in Vietnamese is called "Gạo Nếp".

  7. I am so happy to have found you site. I absolutely LOVE these things, but have been unable to find the small dishes. Thanks to you I now know that I can purchase them less than two miles away from my home. Your recipe using rice I have here at home has me excited as well. So thanks are in order all around.

  8. Hi I remember you had another version of your banh beo recipe where you used rice flour and tapioca flour? Is it possible if you can post that again on your blog or post the link up? Thank you.


  9. Oops never mind I found the other version :)


  10. Hi! The banh beo looks amazing and can't wait to try it. But I have a silly question, is the rice raw or cooked? It was kinda hard to tell by the pictures.

  11. anonymous

    hi: the banh beo looks amazing, I like to try your recipe. I have one question to ask? I have to use Homai California Calrose Rice which you post your recipes. any chance to substitute the any rice in this recipes. or have to use this kind of rice.