One of our favorite recipes, is the super savory and crispy Vietnamese Banh Xeo. A popular street food snack in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, the yellow tinted crepe has gained popularity throughout many Southeast Asian countries because it can be a cost effective way to feed a big family. This makes it a great recipe for use to teach, as we reach out to families in need in Bangkok.
“I grew up in Vietnam, but we lived in a remote village in the countryside. I never had a chance to have banh xeo until learning to cook with Christy. I can’t wait to try making it for my family.” – Alina, CK Trainee
Just like Alina, there are lots of people who may not have had the joy of enjoying these deliciously crispy crepes. They are more fragile and more deeply savory when compared to western crepes. To master the perfect crunch, you need to steam a thin layer of batter until golden brown and it naturally releases from your pan.
However, the real fun part begins when you see what’s inside. Typically bahn xeo can be stuffed with a choice of chicken, shrimp, ground pork, and bean sprouts. But there’s not reason they can’t be vegan, gluten free, or cooked with whatever ingredients you have in the fridge.
Enjoy Christy and Alina’s rendition of the renowned sizzling crepe below. Remember you can request this dish in our charitable cooking classes, and the proceeds from your cooking class and donations will help us to teach and train more young people to be leaders in the kitchen, and their community like Alina.
Banh Xeo Recipe
Recipe by Christy Innouvong & Alina Xiong
Yields: 10-12 crepes
2 cups soda water
1 bunch of green onion, chopped into centimeter pieces (aka scallion, roughly about 200g)
125 ml of coconut milk (a tap more than half a cup)
140 grams rice flour
1-2 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
200g shredded chicken breast or protein of your choice
Tip: Some versions call for you to stir fry your protein with a tbsp of garlic and onion. This is optional.
Just be sure you cook your filler protein in advance, so you don’t need to overcook your crepe while waiting on the meat to finish cooking.
1 carrot, shredded thinly
300g bean sprouts
Veggies for Wrapping (optional)
You’ll want to wash all your leafy greens well because you will eat them raw. Be sure to leave some extra time for removing them from the stem if needed.
1 bunch of Vietnamese mustard greens
Tip: This can be hard to find. Substitute Vietnamese coriander, perilla leaf, or heart leaf if possible.
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of cilantro
1 head of romaine or similarly leafy lettuce for wrapping
Vietnamese Dipping sauce
Nuoc cham (pronounced NEW-uk jham) aka Vietnamese dipping sauce is traditionally poured over each crepe, or alternatively used for dipping bites of your banh xeo or fried egg rolls.
Here’s a simple recipe for nuoc cham:
1/2 cup of soda water
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1/4 cup of vinegar
3 tbsp of white sugar
2 tbsp of lime juice
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 spicy red chili chopped
Prepare Your Batter
Combine all batter ingredients except scallions in a large mixing bowl for at least 30 minutes before cooking. You can leave refrigerated up to one night before cooking. Add scallions only right before making the crêpes.
Prepare Your Filling
Cook your protein and slice or shred small, so it can easily be eaten when biting into the crepe.
Wash bean sprouts and leafy greens. Keep your leafy greens large and intact, they will be used to wrap bites of your stuffed crepes.
Making the Banh Xeo Crepe (Each takes approx. 5-7 mins)
In a skillet, heat to medium and then turn the heat to low. This is important because if the skillet is too hot, it will burn your crepe before it is fully cooked. Brush some cooking oil (a teaspoon will do) on your skillet and add your batter (approximate ½ a cup). You can pick up the pan and tilt so that the batter covers the entire skillet.
Tip: If you add too much batter, simply pour the excess back into your batter bowl.
Add a little bit more batter if it wasn’t enough to cover the pan, but to achieve a thin, crisp omelette the less batter the better. Add your filling ingredients and cover for 4-5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, the bean sprouts should appear slightly cooked and the batter should also be transparent and crispy around the edges. You can brush a touch of oil around the edges to help lift your crepe.
Remove the lid and fold in half (omelette style), transfer to a plate and serve immediately with greens and dipping sauce on the side.
How to Eat Banh Xeo
Roughly tear your fresh herbs and place on top or inside of crepe. Generally people will chop the crepe in several pieces and eat inside of the large leaves as a wrap. Decide whether you prefer the leaf wrap version, or just want to eat it like a taco. Whatever you choose, be sure to drizzle your nuoc cham sauce over the entire banh xeo crepe. Enjoy!
Hey parents! Welcome to the Courageous Kitchen, we’ve got a fun recipe to share with you today. If you haven’t been on our site before, we’re a charity helping marginalized youth in Bangkok, and funded by guests taking our cooking classes and tours. Today we’re taking Thailand’s iconic pad thai recipe from our classes, keeping the dish’s Thainess intact, while making it fun for kids (and easy for parents).
One of the classes we offer is a cooking class for kids and families, and pad thai is often a favorite of our visitors. However if we want everyone to enjoy their own plate of pad thai, we’ll usually have the parents making a traditional pad thai recipe, but do a simplified version for the kids using instant noodles. So today’s recipe has been battle tested both with the refugee kids we serve as a charity, and with many of you who stop by during your travels in Bangkok to support us.
Why is Cooking Pad Thai so Difficult?
For those unfamiliar, pad thai is the iconic Thai dish most famous as the ambassador of Thai food to countries in the west. For example in the US, newcomers to the cuisine often make this steamy hot plate of noodles their first stop. The sticky noodles are delicious when hot, eye pleasing, especially when decorated with shrimp, and unlike some Thai dishes, not going to burn you with spice.
Pad Thai recently made our list of Thailand’s best noodle dishes, but we must admit recreating a delicious version at home is a challenge. This is largely because of ingredients that are hard to find, or misunderstood. When you search the internet you also have a barrage of recipes, many of which look and taste nothing like the delicious plates you may have tried in Thailand.
Today we want to offer you an easy pad thai recipe, that’s appropriate for kids and really tasty. To make it we’ve omitted much of the long list of ingredients, including components like the toasted peanut garnish, which many children may have an allergy to anyway.
Your focus, instead of giant shopping list of exotic ingredients, is instead on making a delicious sauce. If you can master the sauce below, that’s half the victory already claimed! Later we’ll stir fry it with instant noodles, but if you keep some of your soon-to-be-famous pad thai sauce stocked, it can be an easy dish to whip up in a pinch.
Kid’s Pad Thai Sauce Recipe
This sauce recipe is enough for 4-5 portions of noodles. If you’re happy with the first round, make it in a larger batch and keep refrigerated for whenever pad thai cravings may strike.
1 cup tomato ketchup
Tip: Unlike sour tamarind juice, this is likely already available in your fridge!
1 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
Tip: If you’re using another type of sugar such as palm, agave, or natural sugar, simply add to taste.
1/4 cup fish sauce
Tip: Go meatless and substitute in high quality salt or soy sauce to taste.
1/3 cup vinegar
1 tsp paprika
Grab a non-stick pan and put it on low heat.
Add all of your ingredients, mix, and reduce on low for 30 minutes.
Remember to stir as it reduces, and when ready, it should be thick enough to easily coat any type of noodles you use.
Allow to cool and store in the fridge. If refrigerated, this easy pad thai sauce should last a few weeks.
Tip: Use the sauce for other things! If you’re happy with the sauce and the kids like it, use it for whatever suits you. Dip chicken nuggets, use to flavor your kid’s fried rice, or instead of plain ketchup on french fries.
Kid’s Pad Thai Recipe
1 pack of instant noodles
Tip: The size of the noodle packs may vary by brand, but typically they are 60-80g per pack. That’s filling portion for kids 9 and up, so adjust as necessary.
50g tofu, chopped into small squares
1 handful of blanched Chinese kale, broccoli, or the veg of your choice
Small handful of bean sprouts
2 tbsp of pad thai sauce
1 tbsp of oil for stir frying
Tip: Our kids don’t like lime. Do yours? If so, make this an optional garnish, along with a few more bean sprouts on your child’s plate!
Blanch any vegetables you want to add by dipping into boiling water for a few minutes (for Chinese kale this usually takes about one minute in boiling water).
Remove from the boiling water and add to ice water to stop the vegetables from cooking, and preserve the fresh color.
Use the same boiling water now to quickly boil your noodles. Most instant noodles will only take 1-2 minutes to become soft. Set aside.
Add oil to your wok or non stick pan. Follow with your chicken and cook until the color changes.
Add your vegetables to your cooked chicken, along with tofu. Stir quickly to heat the vegetables up.
Now add your cooked instant noodles and mix well.
Add bean sprouts and your pad thai sauce.
Mix everything and push to the side of the pan, away from the heat. In the hot portion of the pan crack and scramble your egg, stirring vigorously until cooked.
Once the egg is cooked, mix with all of the other ingredients and turn off the heat.
Now that you’ve mastered the sauce, you’re ready to get to the stir frying. Once your ingredients are prepared, this should go rather quickly. Follow the instructions below, and remember not to feel as though you can’t improvise the recipe to slip in more veggies, or even to omit meat in the dish entirely.
Thanks for trying out the Courageous Kitchen recipe for kid’s pad thai. We hope you have an opportunity to cook it together as a family, and enjoy a taste of Thailand wherever you are around the world. Please take a moment to get to know us better, by following our food and charitable adventures on facebook and instagram. As always, happy cooking!
Happy 2019 everyone! We finished 2018 on a high, hosting a record number of families in our kids cooking class. So we want to continue to encourage people to get into the kitchen as a family throughout 2019, starting with the first holiday on the calendar, Thai Children’s Day!
For the occasion we’re sharing a special recipe that’s easy for kids, tasty for adults, and doesn’t create too much of a mess in the kitchen. The tasty recipe we chose is Thai Coconut Pancakes!
We have been making this simple recipes in our cooking classes, and recently took St. Andrews school, to teach 8-11 year old students in the Eco-Beasts program, while discussing eco-friendly food and packaging.
Now it’s your turn to make this simple Thai recipe! There are only 5 ingredients. Share these tasty treats by cooking and eating them with your family. If you love them, remember to support Courageous Kitchen with a donation to help us provide food and education to marginalized youth in Bangkok!
This recipes makes 12-15 silver dollar sized pancakes.
2 cups of sticky rice flour
2 cups of shredded coconut
1 cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup of rice flour
1/3 cup of white sugar
Thai Coconut Pancake Instructions
Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add a tap of extra coconut milk if it doesn’t whisk smoothly.
Put a non-stick pan on medium heat, pouring the batter carefully.
When you begin to see bubbles in your pancakes, flip them until they’ve been suitably browned on each side. If your pan is warm enough, this should take only 2-3 minutes on each side.
Allow to cool and serve the hot Thai pancakes on banana leaf instead of plastic or styrofoam!
Can I use other fruit in the pancake instead of coconut?
This isn’t a great recipe if you’re not a fan of coconut, because it includes both shredded coconut and coconut milk. However, you can substitute the 2 cups of shredded coconut with 2 bananas, and make the very banana flavored version. The students we met at St. Andrews recently couldn’t decide which version they liked best!
Why does it seem like so much sugar?
When mixing the batter it can seem that you’re using a lot of sugar. However remember that you’re also getting sweetness from your shredded coconut. The pancakes should ideally be sweet enough that you do not need to add any syrup or butter, making them a significantly healthier snack or breakfast choice than traditional western pancakes.
Do street food vendors sell these coconut pancakes?
You can find these coconut pancakes at the street food vendors in Bangkok, however, they will be a different style. The type featured in this Children’s Day recipe is called paengji (แป้งจี่), but the type you see more commonly on the street is kanom babin (บ้าบิ่น). You can differentiate them easily because kanom babin is usually smaller and a variety of colors from including taro or pandan. If you spot them have a try, they are equally delicious!
“This was a really fun experience for our whole family. Also wonderful to know our tourism dollars we’re helping local people. Highly recommended."
Guest, October 2018
"Amazing cooking class. Lily, Nisha and Dwight were wonderful. I enjoyed the class immensely, and what a great organization!"
Guest, November 2019
"If you are in Bangkok you MUST visit Courageous Kitchen! Dwight and everyone gave us a top notch cooking experience. The food is SO good and you feel like you’re at home with family and friends while you’re there. I will return every chance that I get."
Guest, October 2018
Micro-Giving This Holiday with Amazon Smile
Don’t forget if you’re shopping with Amazon, this holiday you can select Courageous Kitchen as your charity of choice with Amazon Smile.
As your designated charity Amazon donates a small fraction of the proceeds of each sale back to our charity!
Last month we featured the powerfully spicy, but often misunderstood drunken noodle recipe to assist you with letting the heat linger on beyond the end of summer. This month the vibrant red chili residue on our fingers may be reminiscent of a scene from Halloween, but we promise it won’t burn you nearly as bad as last month’s devilishly tasty noodles. In Thailand October’s biggest holiday isn’t Halloween. Instead of spooky decorations, the country is anxiously preparing to cover food stalls in little yellow flags for the celebration of the Vegetarian Festival.
For the occasion we’re making Thai nam prik pow jay (น้ำพริกเผาเจ), often referred to in recipes as Thai chili jam. For example, you can find it used in classic renditions of tom yum soup recipes, but most methods of making this chunky roasted paste include meat byproducts such as fish sauce, fermented shrimp paste, and dried shrimp.
Here’s a vegan version you can follow to make the paste by soaking, blending, roasting, seasoning, and finally reducing fresh Thai chilies. We hope knowledge of how to make this mainstay ingredient will inspire you to make your own at home, for use in vegetarian, vegan, and non-veg soups, salads, or various Thai concoctions.
This recipe yields 480 – 500 grams of roasted sweet chili jam.
2 cups Vegetable oil
120g Sun-dried chilies
2 tbsp Palm sugar
3 tbsp Tamarind juice
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Black soy sauce
1 tbsp Roasted ground peanuts (unsalted)
Thai Chili Paste Instructions
Soak the sun-dried chilies for 30 mins in water until they turn soft. Cut them open to remove seeds, then cut them into small pieces and rest them aside.
Peel garlic and shallots, rinse well, and slice them small.
Toast the sliced garlic and shallots until they turn golden brown
Pound the chili skins into a fine texture. This will take about 30 mins with a traditional mortar and pestle. Alternatively, you can use a blender or food processor to speed up blending the ingredients.
Add the toasted garlic and shallots, pounding or blending them together until all the ingredients turn into a fine paste texture.
Heat your wok or nonstick pan, adding 2 cups of oil. Next, add the paste into the wok then stir and mix well, allowing the oil to blend, and shallots to cook down.
Now you’re ready to season your paste. Add palm sugar, salt, black soy sauce, tamarind juice, and ground peanut. Stir for 20 mins until the color of the paste turns darker and you can smell a smoky aroma. The oil should now appear a deep red color.
Turn off the heat, and put the paste into the jar or airtight container. To avoid risk of illness and increase shelf life, we recommend sterilizing your container by boiling it in advance. You can also leave some space near the top of your container empty, filling the empty space with the extra oil from your pan.
When I finish making my own Thai chili paste, what recipes should I use it in?
Thais love their roasted chili jam. In Thai it’s called nam prik pow. When you have mastered a recipe for this paste you can use it in a variety of recipes such as:
Tom Yum Soup (as well as some versions of Tom Kha)
When does Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival take place?
The Thai Vegetarian Festival happens each year in October for 10 days. The dates vary depending on the lunar calendar, but you can usually expect it to happen within the first two weeks of the month. In 2018, we will celebrate the Vegetarian Festival from Monday, October 8th, until Wednesday, October 17th.
During this period, many people will give up eating meat, visiting temples to make alms. To support them, many of the street food and restaurants around town go completely vegan, or jay. Following this tradition goes beyond just vegetarianism, and includes refraining from eating eggs, dairy, garlic, onion, honey, and other ingredients.
Is vegan Thai chili paste used in street food in Bangkok?
Heck no. Ahem— let us rephrase— absolutely notEVAH.
Although Bangkok has seen a resurgence of vegetarian (and to a lesser degree vegan) cuisine, don’t expect to experience this on the street. You can trust we’d know, because we’re always scanning Bangkok street food options in our weekly street food tours. Even during the Vegetarian Festival, many of the recipes where you would find the paste are forsaken, for less indulgent choices like soup noodles.
What are your favorite vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bangkok?
Since there aren’t too many to choose from, this isn’t too difficult to answer. When our team is craving vegan Thai food that we can’t make at home, we visit May’s Veggie Home. The name sounds like a Thai vegetarian spot, but the restaurant is actually vegan. There’s lot to choose from on their menu, it’s not too pricey, and it’s located a short walk from the Asoke skytrain station.
When we’re craving non-Thai vegetarian food, it’s usually hands down North and South Indian eats from Dhana Bhavan. Much harder to find, but always worth the hunt. Not far from this backside of Silom, is also Bonita Social Club, a place which has one of Bangkok’s best veggie burgers.
Would it be hard to be vegetarian or vegan in Bangkok?
Yes, it can be depending on how restrictive your daily diet has become.
Do you love to eat fruit? Are you ok with mushrooms or tofu in everything? Not eating meat is one problem to adjust to, but tacking on a soy allergy, or disdain for fruit and mushrooms, could make your time in Thailand disastrous.
Here are a few tips to help you survive vegetarian or vegan life in Bangkok:
Be prepared to cook for yourself.
Be able to explain your dietary restrictions in Thai.
Explore the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, which has a stronger green-eating food scene.
Beware of sneaky meats (aka meat sauces and broths) that may be a small component of Thai dish you love.
Tip your veg hawking street food vendors and restaurant staff, tell friends, and help them promote their restaurants on social media.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider supporting Courageous Kitchen with a donation of a plate or cooking class below.
Donate to Improve Access to Education
Each week Courageous Kitchen provides fun, education instruction to at risk students. This instruction includes English language learning, cooking classes, and special outings. You can donate any amount, but if you’re unsure here are some suggestions:
$1 = sponsor one plate
$30 = sponsor a meal for an entire class
$100 = sponsor a full day of instruction
$400+ = sponsor a month or more of Courageous learning
Each gift given on the form below will help us reach our goal to fund classes for an entire year!
Courageous Kitchen’s special of the month is pad kee mow drunken noodles! This is a personal favorite of our team and popular with many of our guests. Today we take a deep dive into many of the questions you ask about this dish, providing you with our tried and true recipe below!
Pad kee mow noodles are the quintessential Thai hangover food. The words ‘kee mow’ are a reference to someone who is regularly drunk. This dish is literally, a drunk’s stir fry, and if you’d ever had the full face numbing heat of the Thai version, you know exactly why.
You only need to decide if the drunkenness the dish’s name refers to is because of it’s hangover killing properties, or the magical stir fry sauce that coats and colors the noodles and meat so well.
What’s the difference between pad kee mow and pad see ew?
While they are cooked similarly, the main difference between these two dishes is the spiciness from the added herbal ingredients. You can find our pad see ew recipe included in our Courageous Recipe Magazine.
In fact, the two dishes are so similar, that we refer to them as brother or sister dishes. Many of their commonalities are likely because both share Chinese origins, developed in woks of Chinese migrants to Thailand. Compared to the milder see ew, the version of kee mow that Thais know and love was born in a Chinese wok, but has all the fiery heat required to make the dish distinctly Thai.
In western Thai restaurants these dishes are adapted for local tastes and may be sweeter, and less spicy than what you find in Thailand. So when guests in our Bangkok cooking class request pad see ew, but mention loving spicy food— we usually try to catch it in time to upgrade their order to pad kee mow. We love teaching people to make an authentic version, because it seems to take guest’s existing romance with the dish to a whole new level.
While the same stir fry sauce can be used for both dishes, pad see ew‘s signature egg is swapped out and the chinese kale (aka gai lan, a sturdier and less leafy bok choy) is down played. Instead, you find yourself in a love hate relationship with the intensity of young peppercorn, kaffir lime leaves, and the little known ‘krachai‘ root (aka fingerroot, more on this below). Those ingredients are enough to numb your face, while the chili included in the recipe serves to burn down the rest of the house. Contrarily, no fresh chili is usually included in pad see ew.
I tried making this and ordering it in restaurants, why isn’t it nearly as good as the version I’ve enjoyed in Bangkok?
First off, it’s tough to compete with the aunties and uncles slinging this dish in the streets of Bangkok. While you can grab a plate out of any made to order stall, the best shops making it are the ones who specialize in only a few dishes. Secondly, the mix of somewhat obscure ingredients can make this dish difficult to replicate abroad. Finally, there are a few small details about the dish vendors here you may have overlooked including:
The use of freshly made sen yai or wide rice noodles
Marinating the meats overnight
Flash frying the noodles over high pressure gas burners or charcoal for a smoky flavor
While we hope the recipe below can help cure your craving, we should all just admit that short of importing a Thai chef and a fireman, there will always be someway to improve the homemade version of pad kee mow.
What is the gnarly brown root used in authentic pad kee mow recipes? Can I use ginger as a substitute?
Foodies more familiar with Thai food, won’t be surprised that the use of a strange looking and little-known root is crucial. The krachai root, was previously known as Chinese ginger, but today is better known by English speakers as fingerroot.
The skinny finger-like structure of the root from which the name originates, can make it difficult to peel. This is why we’re always impressed to see the love for this dish on display in the form of pre-made kee mow kits in our local market. This special little package significantly reduces your prep time, and while you can’t find it in the west, in Thailand’s markets the kit usually sells for less than a dollar.
Do I have to add sweet basil to the dish?
We strongly recommend you adding a Thai sweet basil (called horapa in Thai) if you can find it. We are encouraged to see more varieties of basil available in the US each year as demand grows. Unlike the more peppery Thai holy basil, this basil is fragrant, gently countering the intensity of the other ingredients. In Thailand many of your favorite curries are similarly complimented with a healthy handful of these delicious leaves.
Pad Kee Mow Ingredients
Portion: 3-4 people
600g Fresh or Pre-Soaked Rice Noodles
150g of Chicken
4-5 Chopped Chinese Kale Leaves
2-3 Fresh Peppercorn Stems
1 Large and Mild Red Chili (Serrano or similar)
50g or 1 Handful of Thai Sweet Basil
2 Sliced Jinda Chilies (Thai bird’s eye chilies can substitute)
Pad Kee Mow Sauce Ingredients
2 tsp of Dark Soy Sauce
1.5 tbsp of Fish Sauce
3 tbsp of Oyster Sauce
1.5 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 tbsp of Palm Sugar
Pad Kee Mow Instructions
Drizzle dark soy sauce on your noodles and mix evenly.
Blanch kale and rest aside.
Mix stir fry seasoning in a small bowl, mince your garlic, and rest both near your stir fry station.
On medium heat add your cooking oil, and when it’s hot, follow it with your garlic.
Add chicken to the wok and stir until cooked.
Add kale, dark soy sauce coated noodles, and stir vigorously to prevent noodles from clumping.
Add your fresh peppercorn, fingerroot, and chili.
To finish add your Thai sweet basil just before removing from heat.
Plate your noodles and garnish with a few large slices of chili, fresh sweet basil on top, and a lime for your guests to squeeze nearby.