I have spoken a lot about how I met Tom Green in Saigon last year, and on how Vietnamese Street Food is the best in the world. Here’s a bit of throwback Friday to one of my favorite dishes, Banh cuon.
Banh cuon is a style of Vietnamese noodle rolls from Hanoi, but they are extremely popular nationwide, and thus can be found in Ho Chi Minh City. That being said my Hanoi friends do insist it is better up north……
You’ll see vendors selling banh cuon, all over, but I got my fill in a wonderful place in District 1 (Saigon) called Street Food Authentic. I’ll blog about this place later. Yes, it was touristy, but it was also veritable street heaven, and that is alright by me!
So, what is ban cuon?
The name officially translates to rolled cakes, but is not really a cake, and more a whole lot of goodness wrapped up in a noodle.
The coating is made from rice flour and tapioca starch, with water being added and it is left to ferment a little overnight.
The traditional filling is minced pork and woodier mushrooms. Regular readers will know about my mushroom phobia (and yes that includes the magical ones), which I will get to later.
How they make the batter is a fascinating site, with them finding a pot, putting a cloth on, smearing with batter, and then letting it steam from below. From this you are left with that is basically a massive spherical noodle. From there great skill is taken in adding the filling and turning them into the perfectly shaped dishes/wraps that people like to buy. In a sense, they are a bit like potstickers, but much more Vietnamese.
From my visit to Saigon Food Street – Authentic (never leave out the authentic part), I was to learn that there are a few different varieties of the ban cuon, with me going for Banh Cuon Tom, which featured shrimp. The pieces were then cut up and served as standard with a Vietnamese salad, blanched bean sprouts and shredded salad (you do not win friends with salad).
The whole meal set came out at 90,000 VND, or just under $4. To me banh cuon (in whatever variety) makes a great appetizer, which should be chased with meat, and beer. I opted for BBQ pork, and Bia Saigon. Not a bad way to waste an evening away in Ho Chi Minh City, or as the cool kids still call it (well district 1 at least) Saigon.
Now for the last chopper out…..