You can hear these before you see them. Once I spot these frying on the coal stove of a Vietnamese street vendor, I rush over to feel the heat and enjoy the sizzling sounds that only get louder as I approach. The Vietnamese word “Xèo” translates as “sizzling,” so these are commonly known as “sizzling Saigon crepes.” They are thin, crunchy pancakes that radiate the yellow glow of turmeric, as they slowly crackle in savory pork fat. Although they look like omelets, there is no egg in them at all.
Once the crepe is cooked, it’s packed with crunchy bean sprouts. To eat, the sprout-filled crepe is torn apart and wrapped up with lettuce leaves and herbs. It’s dipped in a lime-dipping sauce (nước chấm). This recipe makes easily enough for a light lunch for six people.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.