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Friday, February 12, 2010

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Rice Flour Cake)

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 1

Last summer, when I was up in Oakland, I passed a Vietnamese restaurant with a huge sign declaring that they had banh bot chien (Vietnamese fried rice flour cake). Huh! I had never heard of such a dish before.

A bit of Googling turned up a post from Noodlepie about banh bot chien on the streets of Saigon and a recipe from Houston Wok. So the dish looked like simply steamed rice flour, cut into rectangles, pan-fried, then stir-fried with eggs and scallions. Seemed simple enough, but I knew I wanted to make it with banh cu cai/lo bak gou (Vietnamese/Chinese pan-fried turnip cake) for more flavor. I had made turnip cakes once before, but hadn't gotten around to making it again since.

One of students' fathers gave me an entire pan of turnip cake for the lunar new year. It was heavenly. So tender and flavorful with chopped bits of dried shrimp and Chinese sausage. I ate most of it plain since it was so good that it needed little else, but I did save a bit to make banh bot chien.

Just rice flour cake, eggs, and green onions, yet this simple dish was so comforting. Scallions/green onions fit in perfectly for this month's Weekend Wokking challenge of ONIONS.

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 2

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Rice Flour Cake)

You'll need:
About 1 lb of banh cu cai/lo bak guo (Vietnamese/Chinese turnip cake) or taro cake or plain steamed rice flour cake if you wish, cut into 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles
3 eggs, beaten
3 scallions, sliced
My Ultimate Stir-Fry Sauce or your choice of Chinese black sauces or soy sauce

Mmm. That heavenly turnip cake.

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 3

Cut into 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles. Drizzle a bit of oil and pan-fry on medium heat until golden brown and crispy.

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 4


Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 5

Add 3 sliced scallions.

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Then add in 3 beaten eggs. I've seen this served as an omelet, so if you prefer that, then keep it whole.

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Otherwise, flip to make sure the eggs are cooked on the opposite side.

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 8

It's OK if it gets messy. Add my ultimate stir-fry sauce or your choice of black sauces.

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Break up the egg a bit and stir-fry so the turnip cake absorbs the sauce.

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Plate and enjoy while crispy.

Banh Bot Chien (Vietnamese Fried Flour Cake) 11

Who else made banh bot chien?
Houston Wok serves his omelet-style.

I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

This month's secret ingredient is the ONION. The host is Christine of Kits Chow. Please check her blog for 8 onion recipes. If you've got an onion recipe you'd like to submit, please send entries by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, February 28 to kitschow (at) gmail (dot) com .

1 year ago today, Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar.
2 years ago today, Tuong Ot Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Chile Sauce).


  1. This is very exciting. It looks like a dish we used to eat at home called poon fun. It is like a savoury jello. It must have been made with rice flour and water. It was set and cut into cubes. Served in chicken soup with a bit of fried ground meat topping and cilantro.

    I'm going to try your recipe, minus the onions to see if I can replicate that old favourite.

  2. Omg I can't believe you didn't have this dish til later life. We love this dish,its absolutely fun to make,fun to eat. Thank you so much for the link take care Chi =)

  3. Whats the ultimate stir-fry sauce?

  4. Christine,
    Hmm. That does sound interesting. I want to see what you come up with.

    I only heard about it last year! It's so great with daikon cake instead of plain steamed rice cake.

    Just posted it!

  5. This is my favorite dish. I always this dish wheneve I went to the noodle restaurant that's closed to our home. Love this, I prefer to eat it at the restaurant than making it myself.

  6. LOL didnt see the ultimate stir-fry sauce earlier. Just went to my city's only asian supermarket, and they did not have hoisin sauce or kecap manis. I looked around and they didn't even have rice flour cake/turnip cake :( guess i'll have to wait to go home to cook this (i live in a college town)

  7. FC88,
    It's so easy to make. I much prefer doing it myself. :)

    No hoisin sauce? Really? But that's so basic. For kecap manis, you can substitute with dark soy sauce with a bit of sugar. I'm gonna try making the turnip cake again. Bought the daikon and it's sitting in the fridge. I've just been too lazy to cook it yet.

  8. Thanks for this! I had this recently in a restaurant and it was so simple and good, I want to make it at home. Not sure where to find the rice flour cake or turnip cake, but sure I can track it down.

  9. Ms Baklover,
    The rice flour cakes or turnip cakes are found at most Asian supermarkets. I'm going to experiment with some recipes soon so if you can't find them, you can make them!

  10. From two Bay Area lovers of banh bot chien who hadn't had it in over 2 years (until last week when we got some in Sai Gon!!): Could you please mention where that restaurant advertising banh bot chien in Oakland is? Of course we'll try making it ourselves too.

  11. your attempt at making banh bot chien isnt that bad. it's just, you're missing a lot of stuff... i'm not trying to put you down or anything, the way you made it looks delicious and is the most basic way of doing it. but if you were to get a plate of this in vietnam (or at any vietnamese restaurant) it would look a lot different

  12. Nook,
    I don't remember the name of the restaurant. I think it was on Broadway because we were leaving Pho Ga Huong Que and headed toward Lake Merritt. I did eat it at Thien Long in San Jose so if it's not far from you, I know it's definitely on the menu there.

    What am I missing? I did eat this in a restaurant and the only difference between my version and what I ate in the restaurant is the restaurant version left it as a big omelet, and had soy sauce to pour on top. By a lot of other ingredients, are you talking about banh bot chien thap cam, which is a slightly different dish? Criticisms like yours add nothing to the discussion because you don't qualify your comment by saying what was missing. You say it's wrong, but assume that all restaurants serve it the way you're thinking, when in fact, I have eaten it in a restaurant and it is just that simple of a dish.

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  14. Rin,
    So glad you liked it! Now I just gotta try my hand at making turnip cakes and it'll be all homemade.

  15. Typically it is not fried with any sauce but served a dipping sauce that can inspire great debate about its ingredients and proportions thereof.

  16. Ducci,
    Yup, I've had that version in restaurants too and it was pretty bland. Fried with eggs like an omelet.

  17. Quynh,
    So weird to find people love this dish when I only recently found out about it!

  18. I put dried shrimps (the very tiny ones) to add flavor to it. You can also add chopped sweet chinese sausages.

  19. I also put deep fried shallots & shredded green papaya on top of the final products.

  20. TV,
    Great suggestions. I wonder if it's redundant to put the shrimp and Chinese sausage if you're frying turnip cakes though? I've never seen it with green papaya before, but that's be great too.

  21. I'mgoing to make it using store bought turnip cake. Great idea.


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