homemade bánh cướn chay – vegan rolled cake

Bánh Cuốn Chay

today marks 100 days
since gpa’s passing
as is tradition
dw & i went to temple on sunday

the 100 days milestone
is actually a celebration,
signifying the end of tears,
though mourning is up to 3 years.

from my limited knowledge
a vegetarian diet is typical
during the mourning period
i could be spreading rumors
i’m likely spreading rumors

either way,
i finally figured out
how to make bánh cướn,
meaning rolled cake,
and i veganized it
making a mushroom filling
and a spicy soy sauce to dress it

Bánh Cuốn Chay

homemade bánh cướn chay
adapted from luke nguyen

makes about 18 rolled cakes

note: i’ve tried the steam method, years ago, and my gpa laughed at my attempt. it convinced me that this is the kind of dish that is so much easier to purchase already made. however, i’m a stubborn fool. i made this about a month ago, with fairly good results. i used a huge ass heavy bottom pan that was difficult to handle so the crepe came out thicker than i liked. this 2nd time around i bought a 7 1/2″ non-stick pan which was much lighter and easier to maneuver with. the key is to pour the batter when the pan is hot and immediately lid. if you get into a rhythm, good for you, the process is quite pleasant, despite the tender fingertips. also: exact measurements for the filling and sauce are kinda lacking cus i was working on the fly. sorry about that.

spicy garlicy soy sauce – gluten free

1/2 cup gluten free soy sauce, i use tamari
1/4 cup water
2 generous TBL rice vinegar
2-3 tsp sugar
2 tsp fried garlic OR 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 red chili, chopped finely, optional

mix everything together in a jar. this is a taste preference, add more of less of each ingredient and adjust according to taste.

1 container of mushrooms (i used baby bella, though any will do), chopped
3 pieces of dried wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, chopped
1 small white onion, diced
5-6 strands of chive blossoms, diced
salt/pepper to taste

in saute pan heat up some olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom. when hot add in the diced white onion and saute until fragrant. season with salt. allow the onions to get translucent. next add in the mushrooms and saute until the mixture has reduced a smidge, season with salt/pepper. i let it go for about 5 minutes on med-high heat. take pan off heat, add in about half the diced chive blossoms and mix. put mixture in bowl, set aside.

200 g rice flour
60 g tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
600ml (approx. 2 1/2 cups) cold water
oil – veg or canola

add above ingredients in bowl, whisk until combined.

in the pan that you’re gonna use, drizzle some oil to coat the pan. i use a clean rag or paper towl to spread the oil evenly around the pan. the temp is around med-high.

pour a small ladleful of the batter (aim for 2-3 TBL), rotating the pan to cover the base with a thin layer of the batter. immediately cover with lid and allow to cook for about 30 seconds.

have a prepared well-oiled tray/cutting board/plate ready.

remove lid and flip the noodle sheet onto the oiled surface. set aside the pan on a cool burner (though if you’re working with a partner, you can keep on cranking out the sheets)

scoop a TBL or so of the mushroom filling on the sheet, fold the top over, fold the 2nd sides in and then fold top side again to shape a roll.

repeat process until everything is used up, make sure the pan is well oiled between takes. sometimes there’s more filling than the there’s batter, or vice versa. it happens.

top with fried scallions and fried garlic, garnish with the rest of the diced chive blossoms and dress with spicy soy sauce.

additional accompaniments: sliced cucumbers, cilantro, mint, lightly steamed bean sprouts.


Bánh Cuốn Chay

my other vietnamese dishes:
vermicelli noodles (bún thịt nướng)
chicken noodle soup – phở gà
pickled carrots & daikon
beef stew – bò kho

Phở Gà – vietnamese chicken noodle soup

Phở Gà

when i was in college,
maybe 18 or 19,
i dated a beautiful boy
(dated is probably too strong a word, ahem)
one with almond shaped eyes
hair silkier and blacker than mine
and he had a tendency to ignore me at the parties
where i would impatiently wait for him to look my way
but his eyes always shifted anywhere and everywhere else
to say the least,
it was a complicated relationship
one studded with embittered arguments
huffy silences
really mean answering machine messages
(yes, it was that long ago)
until one night,
middle of the night soon after the start of my 3rd year,
during a period in time when
i had gotten myself ridiculously entrenched
in yet another complicated relationship,
one that got me kicked out of the house,
i told him enough already
it was 3am
i was half asleep
and goddamnit, i had to report to work
in two and a half hours
and i put the phone back on the cradle
turned off the ringer
and washed my hands of that soap opera

Phở Gà

the thing about phở is that
it seems complicated
the broth is spice laden
you add things
you subtract things
it is never the same bowl
i myself would prefer to go out for phở
than to make it
but i found myself with a whole chicken to use
and it being soup season & all
i decided to uncomplicate it
in its most simplest
it’s chicken broth that’s been infused with
some exotic spices
maybe i’m oversimplifying
but in a time where i don’t have time
for convoluted bs
this is exactly what i can handle

Phở Gà

phở gà
adapted from wandering chopsticks

package 1-lb of Banh Pho (Vietnamese Flat Thin Rice Noodles)
1 whole chicken, about 3-4lbs
1 onion, studded with about 15 cloves
2 2″ knob of ginger
2 sticks of cinnamon
6 star anise pods
4 cardamom pods
head half a of garlic
4 carrots, scrubbed and chunked, keep the skin on
2 tsp salt
fish sauce to taste

in a small frying pan, dry fry the spices

with a creme brulee torch char the clove studded onion, garlic and ginger knobs

in an 8 quart pot add the chicken and charred vegs, and carrots

in a small spice bag add the spices and then put into pot

add water until everything is just about covered

season with salt

bring to boil and then lower temp to simmer for about 45 min – 1 hour

remove chicken and allow to cool, then shred, putting bones back into pot. cover chicken until ready to eat

meanwhile, allow soup to simmer for another hour or so (i let it go for about 3 hours)

when ready to eat, cook up noodles according to package instructions and divvy into bowls

top with shredded chicken, garnish with thinly sliced onions and scallions

carefully ladle soup into bowls

it’s even better the next day, and then the next

serves 8 – calories: 366 | fat: 6g | carbs: 41g | protein: 37g

phở gà

other noodle bowl concoctions:
morestomach – vermicelli noodle bowl
whisk & knife – beef noodle soup
i am a food blog – oxtail pho
my darling lemon thyme – spicy noodle salad with pickled vegs
use real butter – chinese soy sauce chicken
angry asian creations – wonton noodle soup
angry asian creations – shrimp pad thai
angry asian creations – singapore noodles

vietnamese vermicelli noodle bowl

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

dw & i participated in our
local neighborhood
trivia night recently
we summarily got our
asses kicked
never mind that we are
devoted Jeopardy viewers,
our collective knowledge of
randomosity be damned,
the floor was wiped
with our asses

for staunch introverts
it’s something short of a miracle
to get us out of the house
if it’s not an actual
gathering with dear friends,
or a private 1:1 meal,
but there we were,
admittedly on the fringe,
right at the edge of the crowd,
quietly observing other trivia-buffs
i suppose we could’ve
responded more warmly to others
who attempted conversation with us
(do you really think we should
name our team elephantitis??)
i could’ve been wittier
(i have nothing witty to say
between these parenthesis)
we could’ve mingled
gawd, we are so awkward!

in the end, we came in
second to last
i take comfort in knowing that we were
the lone 2 person team,
everyone else being 3+ or more,
one team totaling about A DOZEN

i also take comfort in knowing
that our illegal rooftop
herb garden has been fruitful
not having to rush home with store-bought
basil or mint
trimming the stems & dunking it
into water to stave off wilting
now i can just turn to dw to
harvest a handful
and 10 minutes later
our meal is all the better tasting
we can’t be victorious in everything we do
i’ll take a victory at home herbage
over trivia anytime

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl
{bun thit ga nuong}

for the marinade:
2.5 TBL fish sauce (use the red boat brand)
1.5 TBL sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 stalks of green scallions, diced
1 whole organic chicken, chopped up

for the dressing (nuoc mam cham):
3 TBL fish sauce
3 TBL rice vinegar
2 TBL sugar
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 TBL freshly squeezed lime juice
1 bird’s eye chili

mix all completely, can keep in clean jar in fridge for weeks.

extras & garnishes:
vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package instructions
cucumber, sliced
handful of washed & dried mint and basil leaves
pickled carrots/daikon (do chua)
crushed roasted peanuts
green scallions/onions chopped & mildly cooked in a bit of olive oil
spring rolls (which i always buy, ain’t nobody got time to make these from scratch)

treat this like a salad. in a bowl add in however much noodles and vegs you want. top with the grilled meat, garnish with green scallions oil and finish with the crushed peanuts. season with the dressing. you’re aiming for a sweet, sour, salty and spicy mix in your mouth.

yields: 2 bowls, serving 2 hungry people (*note: this is worst case scenario calculation. i typically err on side of fat ass) – calories: 447 | total fat: 2.2g | saturated fat: 2.2g | cholesterol: 145.3mg | sodium: 4163mg | total carbs: 28.7g | dietary fiber: 0.6g | sugars: 26.3 g | protein: 51.3g

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

other vermicelli noodle bowls:
angry asian creations – with grilled lamb
wandering chopsticks – with pork + shrimp