The whole time I thought Bánh xèo was the equivalent of a Vietnamese omelette.
But no. Kinda.
It looks kinda like an egg that’s been thinly spread out and then stuffed with bean sprouts, pork belly, and seafood. But it’s not an egg. Apparently, it’s rice flour and turmeric powder, which is why I thought it was an egg. I should probably do my research before I eat, not after.
By itself, it just tastes like a plain, slightly greasy thin crepe with crispy sprouts and seafood in it. The thing that makes the dish taste as good as it does is the basket of vegetables that accompanies. Lettuce, cucumbers, Thai basil, cilantro, mint, perilla leaves, and other greens I’ve never heard of.
You take a piece of the dish and wrap it in a leaf like a little present. It’s fresh and works really well.
All cultures have this fascination with making foods that are wrapped. Almost every country has an equivalent of a dumpling: Koreans have mandus, Italians have calzones, and Mexicans have burritos. Spring rolls are prevalent all across Southeast Asia. I’m not sure where this concept came from, but maybe it has to do with the fact that our ancestors were primarily nomads and foods that are wrapped were easier to travel with? It’s interesting how foods are ubiquitous across different cultures.