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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bánh Khọt (Miniature Crispy Shrimp Rice Cake)

I drifted away while my guitar teacher ran his fingers over the piano keys and the class strummed along on their guitars. Beautiful harmonies made from the delicate piano with subtle overtones of the guitar on a crisp autumn afternoon make me crave for some sizzling bánh khọt. Weird right? Food is so distracting and it's making me such a bad guitar student. 

I like to cook food with fresh ingredients as much as I can. Hence, I 'm fond of making my own batter directly from the grains. Not only do I like fresh tasting  ingredients but I am also into the old school ways of creating things from scratch.  But anything to speed up this process is more than welcomed. Nowadays, food has become a lot easier to prepare. With the advancement of technology, smart and efficient cooking tools help make cooking so much easier. One of the best decisions I have ever made was investing in a Vitamix blender. I use this daily to create smoothie, juice, and turning  grains into drinks and fresh batter for such delicacies as bánh khọt.

Bánh khọt is a small spherical hearty rice cake that is fried in a cast iron pan or clay pan until golden brown and crispy on the outside but soft in the middle. Bánh khọt's ingredients and condiments are very similar to the popular  bánh xèo (sizzling savory crepe). They both use the same batter which consists of rice flour, turmeric and coconut milk. Although, certain regions of Vietnam skip the coconut milk and sometimes the turmeric powder altogether.The beauty of these dishes is that both bánh xèo and bánh khọt are served with lots of herbs, lettuce or mustard greens. It gives you a chance to catch up on your vegetables. Nonetheless, it's the herbs and lettuce along with the savory fish sauce served with carrot and daikon radish pickles that enhance its flavor.

My version of bánh khọt doesn't contain coconut milk but if you prefer the creamy and rich texture, you can add this to the  batter.  I like to add broken bean sprouts into the batter so that every bite of bánh khọt is filled with a crunchy texture.  In addition, the natural sweetness of shrimp and octopus fills up the center of the bánh khọt keeping it moist and tasty on the inside but still crisp on the outside.
RECIPE: Bánh Khọt

3 cups Rice, rinsed, soaked overnight
6 cups Water
2 teaspoons Salt
2 Egg, beaten 
2 tablespoons  fresh Lime or Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 1/2-2 cups broken Bean Sprouts
1/2 cup finely cut Green Onion

Substitute for Fresh Batter
1 bag Bánh Khọt Flour or
3 cups Rice Flour
3 cups Water
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg, beaten 
1 tablespoon fresh Lime or Lemon Juice
1/2 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 cup broken Bean Sprouts
1/4 cup finely cut Green Onion

2 lbs Shrimps, peeled, deveined
Octopus or Squid, optional
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Black Powder
2 Sweet Onions, cut into small cubes
1 small carton Coconut Cream, optional
Healthy Condiments

Fish Sauce Dip, click here for recipe
Lettuce Leaves or Mustard Greens
Daikon and Carrots Pickles, click here for recipe 
assorted Herbs

a cast iron bánh khọt pan, available at most of the Asian supermarkets, about $14
 a cast iron Ebelskiver pan, available at most of the kitchenware stores. 
a cast iron takoyaki pan, available at Japanese stores.

Preparing Batter

Method 1: making batter from rice

As for rice, I used Homai California Calrose rice. I just happened to have this brand of rice in my pantry but you may try any type of rice you prefer. 

After the rice has been soaked overnight, rinse it one last time. Drain the rice. In a Vitamix blender or a high-powered blender, add rice with water. Let your Vitamix blender run at maximum speed of 10 on high for about 30 seconds or until blended. You want to blend the rice as smoothly and finely as possible. Strain it with a strainer to remove bubbles. Let it sit for at least an hour or overnight to allow the batter to absorb the liquid and the air bubbles to settle before cooking.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the batter ingredients except bean sprouts and green onion. Mix well until batter is smooth. Add bean sprouts and green onion. Set aside.

Method 2: making batter from dried rice flour

In a mixing bowl, combine  dried rice flour  and all the ingredients except bean sprouts and green onion. Mix well until batter is smooth. Add bean sprouts and green onion. Set aside.

Preparing Shrimps and Octopus

I like to use large shrimps to prevent dry-out during cooking. Cut shrimps into 1/2 inch size.  Slice the octopus, if used.

I bought cooked octopus at Otto's Market, a local Japanese store. This octopus is cooked in a Japanese style with mirin, sake and soy sauce. Hence, it has a nice bite with a slight sweet and salty taste, and significantly less chewy. 

In a large bowl combine shrimps, octopus, garlic powder, and black pepper.  Toss well.  Set aside. 
Preparing Onion

Cut onion into small cubes.  Set aside.
Frying Bánh Khọt

Place the  iron pan on stove over medium heat. When the pan is hot, brush oil then add about half a teaspoon of onion in each mini cup.

Stir the batter well.  Fill each mini cup to full.

Take a small spoon to scoop out the batter in the center of the mini cup, then add shrimps, octopus, and a half teaspoon of coconut cream (if  you prefer the rich and creamy texture).

Cover the pan up with a lid for about a minute.  Remove the lid. When cake is crispy on the outside, cooked the inside for a bit longer and it releases easily from the pan, use a spoon to scoop bánh khọt out.


Atlas, take a leaf of lettuce or mustard green; throw on some herbs; place a bánh khọt on it and top off with some freshly daikon and carrot pickles. Now,  roll everything together. Then dip it in the savory tangy fish sauce and take a nice bite. Yum. I'm definitely strumming the right chord now.
Eat well.  Stay hungry!


  1. Hi Annette,
    what do you do with the middle portion of the cake that you scoop out. Also does the shrimp sticks to the batter of the cake at the end?

    1. Keep the batter that you scoop out and use it for the next batch. Shrimp does stick to the cake.

  2. Chị Loan cho e hỏi tại sao chị lại cho giá vô hỗn hợp bột vậy ? E cám ơn

    1. Vì khi cắn vào bánh, mình sẽ cảm nhận được cái giòn của giá xen lẫn trong bánh. Và có giá sẽ làm giảm bớt độ ngán.