Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes w/ Cotton Shrimp)

Banh beo is another one of my favorite dishes growing up. Even now I still indulge myself in a full plate of banh beo at family parties (oink oink). This dish is not overly complicated to make, but it does take a lot of components. The good news is you can make the extra components ahead of time. I would say that this dish is time consuming, but it is sooo worth it! This recipe yields about 55-60 banh beo. Good luck and enjoy!

200 gram rice flour (bot gao loc)
20 gram tapioca starch (bot nang)
2 ½ cup water
Pinch of salt (or if you want to get technical, ¼ tsp)

Other ingredients/utensils:
Large steamer pot
10-20 small shallow/hollow plate (see pic)
Oil and brush
Chopped scallions (green onions)
“Cotton Shrimp” (see how to make at the end)
Prepared fish sauce (see recipe)
Pickled shredded carrots (optional)
Mung bean paste (optional/see pics)

Step 1 – Preparing the “batter”
Mix rice flour, tapioca starch, and water and leave in refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours (it’s best if you leave it overnight). After the allotted time, you will see that most of the water has separated to the top. You will need to pour the water into a liquid measuring cup and however much water you pour out (check the measuring cup) you will need to replace that much water. The reason we have to do this is to get rid of the powdery rice taste.

Step 2 – Making the banh beo
Prepare the steamer pot ¾ of the way full of water on high heat and bring to a boil. In the mean time, get your small hollow plates ready by brushing a little oil on each one (see pic). When your water has reached a boil, take your tongs and place the 10 oiled plates into the top part of the steamer and cover. Keep the empty plates in the steamer for 1 minute so the plates can get hot. The reason we do this is so we can get the sunken middle in the banh beo. After 1 minute has elapsed, using a ladle spoon the batter about ¾ way (see pic). Be careful as to not overfill the plates. Place cover on and steam for about 4 minutes… watch the clock or set a timer because you do not want to exceed 4-5 minutes because the banh beo will become flat and soggy. While you wait, oil the next batch of plates. When 4 minutes have elapsed, take the plates out using tongs (they’re hot!). Let the banh beo plates cool for a few minutes then using a plastic fork to remove the banh beo from the plate onto a big serving plate (see pic). While the first set of plates are cooling, place the second set of plates into the steamer for 1 minute and repeat the process until you have used all of the batter.

Step 3 – Plating and topping the banh beo
After you have finished cooking and plating all of the banh beo, all you have to do is place the toppings on top. First spread a little bit of mung bean paste (optional), then spread a little but of the oiled scallions, then lastly sprinkle some shredded shrimp on top. When serving pour a little bit of prepared fish sauce and pickled shredded carrots on top (optional).

Mung bean Paste (optional):
Take ¼ cup of mung bean and soak in ½ cup of water for about 2 hours to soften them. Then in a small pan bring the mung beans to a boil, then lower heat and cover for about 4-5 minutes until they’re soft. Remove from heat and pour out excess water that you used for cooking. Add about 2 Tbsp water and mix well then set aside.

Scallions in oil:
Cut 3 stalks of scallions/green onions, put in a microwave safe bowl and drench them in 1 Tbsp oil and microwave for 1 minute (easiest method).
Crushed/cotton shrimp:
There are 2 ways you can make the shrimp topping. One way is if you have medium-large dried shrimp (tom kho), you may put about 10-12 in a blender and “shred” them slightly. Put the shredded dried shrimp into a small pan and toss for about a minute. Then lower heat and add 1 drop red and 2 drops of yellow food coloring to make that beautiful orange red color. Another way to do cotton shrimp is by using fresh shrimp. Take 6 large shrimps clean, devein, and dry them. Pan toss the shrimp until cooked, and then pound them in a mortar or if you’re lazy blend them in a blender slightly. Then add 1 drop red and 2 drops yellow food coloring and mix well. (Note: We used dried shrimp/tom kho)

Prepared fish sauce:
8 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 heaping Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon/lime juice
chopped red chilies (optional)

Combine the ingredients and taste. If it is not to your taste, you may adjust the ingredients… if you want it sweeter, more sour etc. add the appropriate ingredients. Make sure you season it to your taste.


  1. Very nice blog. Banh beo is one of my favorite dishes. Unfortunately, I haven't had some for years. Where can one buy the miniature porcelain plates in the photos?

    1. Hi QN,

      If there is an oriental supermarket near you that would be the best bet. That's where we got ours from. Good luck :)

  2. They look so yummy & clear. I did followed your instruction but mine were clear:( any clues?) thanks for sharing , love this dish :)

  3. Mine were not clear I meant sorry typo :(

    1. Hi Huong,

      What do you mean by not clear? Were yours cloudy or clumpy? It might be the brand of rice flour you used.