What are bánh bôt loc?
Bánh bôt loc are tapioca ravioli stuffed with shrimp and pork, garnished with fried shallots and fermented fish sauce, that the Vietnamese enjoy as a snack.
The gastronomy of Huê
The city of Huê has an exceptional cultural and historical heritage, a legacy of its imperial past that its gastronomy perfectly illustrates.
Under the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 to 1945, the city was indeed the imperial capital of Vietnam. The Emperor and the court lived there. It acquired great prestige both in the field of poetry and music as well as gastronomy.
The cuisine of central Vietnam and Huê is renowned as being very tasty, refined as well as spicier than that of the north or south of the country.
The imperial cuisine was varied and full of finesse. It is characterized by a very careful presentation and dishes whose preparation required time as well as a specific know-how to harmonize the flavors. Today in Vietnam, Hue is the only place where imperial culinary heritage lives on.
What does bánh bôt loc mean?
In Vietnamese, the term bánh can be translated as cake or bread, but it is actually used for a large number of preparations. This word actually refers to dishes made from flour. In Vietnam, these flours are mainly rice and tapioca.
It could be a cake, a bread, a pastry, a brioche, a sandwich, a pancake, a cream, or a ravioli. This word does not refer to a type of cooking since these foods can be steamed, baked, fried or even boiled.
To identify the preparations, the Vietnamese add an adjective after “bánh” to complete the description.
There are plenty of examples, such as bánh xèo, a pancake of rice flour and turmeric, folded in half and garnished with pork, shrimps, bean sprouts and aromatic herbs, which owes the xèo qualifier to the sizzle that it produces during cooking.
Bánh bò is a coconut-flavored rice cake. Bò means beef or cow and its use here could be related to the fact that these little cakes look like the udder of a cow.
Bánh bôt loc could also be translated to filtered flour cake since bôt means flour and loc means filtered. People talk about filtered flour because the cassava starch that makes up the dough is recovered by a filtering method.
How to prepare bánh bôt loc
There are actually two versions of these Vietnamese ravioli:
– bánh bôt loc lá is wrapped and cooked in a leaf (lá). This is the traditional version in which banana leaves or dong (stachyphrynium placentarium) are used to pack the preparation.
– bánh bôt loc trần, the variant without leaves, also called naked (trần), which corresponds to the recipe featured here.
These are not the only distinctions, as the consistency and cooking method also differ. Bánh bôt loc trần are cooked in water, the dough is kneaded and then shaped by hand. Bánh bôt loc lá are steamed and the dough spreads over the leaf, so it is a little thinner than the other variant.
In the Chinese cuisine, there are variants of bánh bôt loc trần such as dim sum called har gow or chaozhou fun guo, both from Guangdong, a province in southeastern China.
What is special about these ravioli lies in the dough: translucent after cooking, slightly elastic and sticky. Very interesting taste-wise and visually! This texture is obtained from the tapioca starch which features these characteristics.
Although it is fairly simple, the preparation requires however to be vigilant on a few points. First of all, the water must be really hot. If it is not hot enough, the starch will not combine properly and the dough will be brittle. On the contrary, the dough should look like playdough, be very flexible and not stick. You must be able to manipulate and stretch it easily.
The amount of water can vary depending on the quality of the starch. The second part of the starch can be added gradually to adjust as needed.
To prevent the dough from drying, it is recommended to put it in a plastic bag after kneading and to close it between each shaping of meatballs.
Last, strongly pinch the two parts of the dough because cooking in boiling water will not be forgiving and all the stuffing may escape.
Finally, immediately after cooking, immerse the bánh bôth loc in cold water for a few minutes. This helps firm up the dough to prevent it from tearing, make it more transparent and also prevent them from sticking together. For this last point, green onion oil is used. In addition to flavoring the dish, it will help make the raviolis less sticky.
Then drain the ravioli. Before serving, steam them gently, it will make them tastier and softer.
Bánh bột lọc are translucent Vietnamese tapioca ravioli. They are traditionally filled with shrimp and pork belly.
- ½ lb small shrimps
- ½ lb pork belly meat
- 3 shallots , finely diced
- 1 tablespoon nuoc mam (fish sauce)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Sunflower oil
- 3 cups cassava flour
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 scallions , chopped
- 2 shallots , chopped and fried
- ½ bunch cilantro , finely chopped
- Nuoc mam (fish sauce)
- Cut the shrimps into small pieces and dice the pork.
- Heat a frying pan over high heat.
- Pour 4 tablespoons of oil. When it is hot, add the shallots.
- Sauté them and add the pork. Brown for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the shrimp.
- Add the nuoc mam, then the sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Let cool.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add ½ cup (150 ml) vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the scallions. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
Add 1 cup (150 g) cassava flour into a bowl and the remaining 2 cups (250 g) cassava flour into a separate bowl.
Add 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water into the first bowl of cassava flour gradually while stirring with a spoon, then let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Mix with the spoon and pour into the bowl containing the 2 cups (250 g) of cassava flour. Mix with the hand until the dough becomes homogeneous and elastic.
Make small balls of 1 inch (2 cm) in diameter.
Take a small ball and roll it to make a mini flat cake, with the thumb and forefinger.
- In the center of the dough, drop a little bit of pork and shrimp filling, close it in half (half moon) and seal it by pinching the edges.
- Repeat the process to finish the filling and the dough.
- Heat a pot of water, and when it is boiling, add the small shaped bánh bột lọc in the water.
- Cook for about 5 minutes.
- When all the bánh bột lọc rise to the surface of the water, take them out and drain them.
- Before preparing the dish, heat the scallions in the oil. Drain them.
- In a deep dish, place 6 bánh bột lọc per person.
- Sprinkle with nuoc mam, chopped cilantro, scallions with oil and fried shallots.