Ryan suggested that as part of my blogging, I try and connect with Mum through her cooking seeing as most of my passion has come from her. I've been thinking about it alot lately but just never had the right moment to bring the camera into the kitchen, until today that is. Mum is in the kitchen cooking Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Savoury Pancakes, next to Pho this is mum's second signature dish. It's kind of funny that we were only talking about me getting into the kitchen with Mum on Saturday night. I also need to learn more from her when it comes to Vietnamese food, she's the best teacher I can have.
So I walk into the kitchen this morning and see that all the ingredients to make Banh Xeo are out on the bench. I assumed that Mum had prepped everything ready for dinner later that day. When I come back to the kitchen a little later mum is already cooking away, apparantly little bro was really hungry. I saw the perfect opportunity to go grab my camera. I was a little weary as Mum finds it a little strange that I am taking all these photos of food but she was all in on the excitement and started giving me orders and directions as to how and what to take photos of while she was cooking. It was kind of cool.
So Mum instructs me to take a before and after shot of the pancake before it gets folded and plated up. It was really fun being in the kitchen just snapping away with mum shouting orders at me, "here take a photo of this", "here you want to show this angle", "take a photo of what it looks like before it's cooked".
Mum plating up a pancake for little bro.
Little bro is a meat eater, no bean shoots, no vegetables, no herbs.
I started taking some random shots of the ingredients and she starts telling me off for not composing the shot properly. "You have to put all the ingredients together to show what goes into the pancake", "Where are the vegeables? You want to show the green vegetables". There's the pancake batter (which is more of a crepe batter really), pork belly, whole shrimps (she also adds shelled small prawns because she knows us kids don't like the whole shrimps), sliced onion and bean shoots. The pancakes are served with the greens.
Though Ryan and I had planned to go out for the day and have lunch out, the smell wafting up was just too tempting so I place an order for one pancake as a snack/appetizer for us to share before we go out, I was pretty hungry already. She knows I hate bean shoots! I ended up eating them anyway.
She complained that little bro rushed her, she runs to get some chopped green onions - "To add colour" she says. It definately adds another dimension to the overal appearance.
Mum pumping out another pancake. She's really quick!
These pancakes are best eaten fresh straight out of the pan, the crispy thin edges are the best part! I bring the plate to Ryan and he looks at it a little puzzled and says "That's not a pancake!" I explain that it's more of a savoury crepe even though we call them pancakes and he asks "So how do I eat this?". I'm a little puzzled and shocked that in all the 10 years we've been together he hasn't had Mum's Banh Xeo yet... I mean he's eaten practically every other dish that she's cooked and I know that this dish has been cooked in my house many many times.
So I take a piece of this large green leaf (I am not quite sure of it's western name - it's not lettuce, though sometimes she uses lettuce), spread some herbs like mint and basil on it, tear a piece of pancake off with all the cooked pork and prawn and place it on top of the herbs and roll it up ready to be dipped into the home made fish sauce (dipping sauce). Ryan gets the hang of it and seems to enjoy himself though he thinks the eating method is a little too messy for him. He also had a bit of bad luck with biting on a piece of cartilage which mum had left behind. He says that the pancake is a little bland and needs the sauce. I think that the sauce is what ties it all together. In one mouthful you have all these different textures and flavours, soft and crispy pancake, firm prawns, succulent pieces of pork, sweet onions, with the bean shoots adding a bit of refreshment and crunch, along with the salty sweetness of the fish sauce. It was only when we were in the car driving away that I wanted to go back for more - it really whet my appetite!