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Friday, November 14, 2014

Bánh Tiêu (Fried Sesame Puff Bun)

When the cold starts creeping in, and the rain starts coming down; while my girls are in school and the husband is at work, the entire house is so quiet I can hear the pins drop. I often enjoy sitting comfortably on the couch with a throw blanket over my shoulder watching the little raindrops racing down the window pane. Listening to the rhythm of the falling rain while sipping my favorite hot drink, and munching on something warm, crunchy and sweet is really comforting. The relaxing sound of the rain makes everything ordinary peacefully beautiful.

Bánh tiêu is one of those comfort snacks that I enjoy during a cold, rainy day.  Once a dough ball , covered in sesame seeds, is rolled out into a flat disk  and dropped into a pot of hot oil, it pops up like magic, creating a hollow bun.  The golden brown bánh tiêu, slightly sweet and crispy on the outside with a mildly chewy texture, carries a wonderful aroma when the sesame seeds burst in your mouth , making it so addictive. I wonder what it would be like with poppy seeds!

Bánh tiêu is fairly easy to make. You just need four basic ingredients (flour, milk, sugar and sesame seeds ) to produce a big bowl filled of delicious banh tieu within a short amount of time. Now you have the recipe, make these bánh tiêu to show off your culinary skills on your next weekend get together.
RECIPE: Bánh Tiêu


3 cups Self Rising Flour
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup White or Black Sesame Seeds
Canola Oil, for frying

Preparing Dough

In a large mixing bowl combine flour and sugar, mix well.

 Add milk and mix well using a spatula.

Dust the surface of your work area with flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking.  Transfer the dough to the work area and knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes until you get a nice smooth round ball. You can also knead the dough in the same mixing bowl if preferred.  

Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with a lid if it has one or cover with a clean damp kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying. Allow to rise in a warm place until its size is doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. To speed up the rising process, I usually turn on the oven at 350 degree for a couple of minutes just to keep the oven slightly warm then turn it off. I then place the bowl of dough in the oven.

When the dough is ready, remove from the oven. Smash down the dough to remove air bubbles.  Divide dough into about 25 balls. Continue covering the dough balls with the damp towel to keep them from drying out.
Rolling The Dough Balls

On the work area, sprinkle some sesame seeds then place a dough ball on top of the sesame seeds. Sprinkle some more sesame seeds on top of the dough and roll it out flat into round disk.  If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, dust the rolling pin with flour.  The thinner you roll it out the more hollow the bread gets when frying it.

You can start to fry the dough as you finish rolling out each one or roll all the dough balls out and fry them all at once.
Frying Bánh Tiêu

Heat up the oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium. You can tell when the oil is hot enough by inserting a wooden chopstick into the oil and you should see the oil bubbling around the stick.

Carefully drop a dough disk into the hot oil to prevent splashing.  Use tongs or chopsticks to push the dough down into the oil to help puff up the dough. As soon as the dough starts to puff up, flip it quickly back and forth until it's golden brown and evenly puffed. The dough turns brown really quickly and burns easily if you don't pay attention .

Place bánh tiêu on a couple pieces of paper towel so that the excess oil can be absorbed into the paper towels.


Enjoy bánh tiêu with a cup of hot green tea while they're still warm and crunchy. Any left over can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Toast them up for a minute and let it cool down to get them crunchy again.


  1. Do you have a recipe for mixing up a self rising flour at home? Thank you!

    1. Self rising flour is flour with baking powder and salt already added.
      You can make your own self rising flour by mixing all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt.

      1 cup all-purpose flour
      1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
      ¼ teaspoon salt

      Mix to combine.

  2. Just wondering if the recipe would still work if there is a filling, like chopped up peanuts or red bean paste. Please advise. Thanks!

    1. I haven't tried it but it should be good to add the filling after frying. I know some regions in Vietnam eat this with steamed rice cake (bánh bò hấp) stuffed in the hollow center. Please try it with your favorite filling and let me know. Thanks

  3. Ms. Loan, your description of the rain brought back so much memory of the time I was a little girl growing up in Saigon! The rain season would come and linger for days on end. I would sit and watch the rain drops dancing off the windows all the while feeling so safe knowing that my parents, siblings are all there. Did I mention I was a precocious little girl? Lol. Anyhow, I love love banh tied and will make them soon. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thanks Loan so much for such a great recipe. I didn't know that making Bánh Tiêu is this simple. Please allow me to copy it down for future usage. Enjoy your weekend Loan.

  5. Chi Loan oi, sao ma banh tieu em lam chi noi co chut chut toi a, co cai thi noi khong deu, cho nay cho kia noi. Em lam sai cho nao ho chi? Em dung Self Rising Flour at home theo cach chi chi dan tren, nhung banh khong noi chi a, buon ghe! em da thu 2 lan roi. Chi dung baking powder hieu nao? mau hong hieu Alsa cua Phap phai khong chi? hay double acting baking powder cua My? con neu em muon mua "Self Rising Powder" thi mua o dau va mua hieu na chi Loan? Cam on chi nhieu!!!

    1. 1. Self-rising flour chợ Mỹ nào cũng có hết. Họ thường để kế bên all purpose flour.

      2. Dùng double acting baking powder.
      3. Lửa đừng low mà cụng đừng high quá. Bánh sẽ vàng trước khi phồng. Cán bột mỏng. Dầy quá bánh sẽ khó phồng.
      Em mua bột self rống flour về thử lại đi

  6. Hi Loan , chi Lynh ne. Hom nay chi lam Banh tieu rat thom ngon., ma chi có 1 cai la no thoi , con lai flat Hihihi. Sao vay Loan ?

    1. Hi chị Lynn, Có vài lý do bÁnh không phồng. Một là dầu quá nóng, hai là do mình cán bột. Cái này khó giải thích phải làm sao cho đúng để bánh phồng. Chỉ có cách là mình làm vài lần rồi rút kinh nghiệm thôi. Em làm quen rồi nên bánh khi nào cũng phồng hết.

  7. I made this again, and ran into the same problem that everyone said. The first few didn't puff, they were flat like pancakes. Then I experimented different methods with the dough, and finally, they all puffed at the end.

    First of all, don't roll the dough out too thin. The dough must thick enough so that when it puffed, it wouldn't break. I weighted each of my doug balls to be around 25g-30g, and I rolled it out about the size and the thickness of a chocolate chip cookie that you see in Sam's or Costco's.

    The oil must be heat up to 375F+. Lower than that, the dough would not puff up. Higher than 400F, it would burn too fast. So see if you can maintain the oil between 375F and 400F.

    When you put the flat dough in the oil, leave it alone, don't touch it. Not until you see the puff started showing and expanding. The rounder (relatively) you can roll your dough, the better it'd puff as well. Once the whole dough is puffed up, then you can flip it.

    I'm sure it's not the only way to do it, but it was the way I finally got it to work. It's been a frustrating process for me, because I've never been able to get it to puff before, with all various recipes.

    This recipe is easy, but it doesn't taste like the authentic bánh tiêu. It lacks the chewiness and the typical yeasty, sourly ammonia (mùi khai) that's uniquely bánh tiêu. However, the kids still love it. They didn't know any difference. Fried doughs are just awesome to them, even the flat ones.