Last Updated on November 24, 2023
If you are a fan of traditional Vietnamese food, you must love Banh nam. It is a savory rice cake dish filled with ground pork, shrimp, and wood ear mushrooms then wrapped in banana leaves. This delicious snack is usually enjoyed with a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chili.
Though the recipe for this dish is perplexing, you can make it with any filling you like. But it is essential to get the texture of the cake just right. However, you can follow the recipe below to make Banh name at home. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it.
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What Is Banh nam?
Banh nam is a Vietnamese rice cake or savory snack made from rice flour, tapioca flour, and water. It is usually filled with pork, shrimp, wood ear mushroom, garlic, shallot, and green onion. The finished product has a chewy and moist texture with a savory flavor. Traditionally, it is wrapped in banana leaves before steaming.
This exciting dish is usually served as a snack or appetizer. It can be found in most Vietnamese restaurants or made at home. Also, it is popular in many Vietnamese restaurants in Latin America.
Where Did I First Try Banh Nam?
I first tried Banh nam when I visited Hoi An in Vietnam for my honeymoon. This beautiful city has everything you can imagine from incredible street food to great cafes. My husband and I went to a small restaurant that served authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
When I saw Banh nam on the menu, I was really interested in trying it. This dish looked like a savory dumpling or cake with pork filling. Plus, the presentation was quite impressive—it came wrapped in banana leaves.
It tastes like a savory gelatinous cake, but it has an interesting chewy texture. The filling was made of ground pork with shrimp, wood ear mushrooms, and herbs that gave the flavor an additional kick. I was very impressed with this dish and wanted to learn how to make it at home.
Not only the taste, but the presentation of Banh nam was also great. The banana leaves added a nice aroma to the dish and gave it an aesthetic touch. Besides, it made the cake easier to transport and serve. Everyone at the table was impressed with this delightful snack.
You can also checkout the following appetizer Recipe :
2 cups rice flour: Rice flour is one of the main ingredients in this recipe as it is used to make the cake base. It gives the texture a chewy and moist consistency.
2 ts salt: Salt is used to season the cake and give it a savory flavor.
2 tbsp oil: Oil is added to help bind the ingredients together and make sure they don’t stick to the pan during cooking.
6 cups water: Water is used to make a paste of rice flour, tapioca flour, and oil.
1/4 cup tapioca flour: Tapioca flour is used to give the cake a light, bouncy texture.
1/2 cup wood ear mushroom: Wood ear mushrooms are commonly used in Chinese dishes. They are believed to have medicinal properties and are used for their unique flavor and texture.
1 tsp oyster sauce: The oyster sauce is used to give the filling a savory and slightly sweet flavor.
1 lb pork finely ground: Pork is one of the most common fillings for this dish as it gives an umami flavor and a nice texture. It should be finely ground so it can cook quickly when steaming.
1 lb shrimp finely ground: Shrimp is another popular filling for Banh nam. It should also be finely ground so it cooks quickly and evenly when steaming.
1/4 cup garlic, shallot, and green onion minced: These ingredients give the cake a flavorful aroma and an extra kick of flavor.
Banana leaves to wrap: Banana leaves are used to wrap the cake before steaming and give it a nice aroma.
In a bowl, mix together rice flour, salt, oil, and water until you get a smooth paste-like consistency.
Place banana leaves on your work surface and spread some of the paste in the center.
Place the wood ear mushroom, pork, shrimp, minced garlic, shallot, and green onion in the center of the paste. Add a teaspoon of oyster sauce to enhance the flavor.
Fold each side of the banana leaves over the filling until it is completely enclosed.
Place your Banh nam in a steamer and steam for about 30 minutes or until it is cooked through. Serve your Banh nam with some dipping sauces.
• Make sure to finely grind the pork and shrimp for the filling so it cooks quickly when steaming.
• To add an extra kick of flavor, you can add some fish sauce to the filling.
• It’s best to use banana leaves that are slightly thick as they will hold their shape during cooking.
• For an extra crunchy texture, you can add some chopped peanuts to the filling.
• You can also make your Banh nam with other fillings such as beef or shrimp paste. Experiment and see what flavors work best for you!
What Ingredients Can I Replace or Substitute While Making It?
If you don’t have wood ear mushrooms, you can replace them with button mushrooms. You can also use vegetable oil instead of coconut or olive oil if desired. You can substitute the pork and shrimp for other proteins such as beef, chicken, or tofu. Instead of banana leaves to wrap the cake, you can use parchment paper.
Banh Nam Recipe
- 3 cups of water the liquid component for cooking the rice flour mixture, ensuring proper hydration and facilitating the cooking process.
- 1/2 lb. of shrimp peeled and deveined, finely chopped, adding a delicate and sweet seafood flavor to the dish, creating a harmonious combination with the other ingredients.
- 1 tbsp. of oil such as vegetable or canola oil, providing moisture and preventing sticking during cooking, resulting in a tender and non-greasy final product.
- 1 tsp. of salt enhancing the overall taste of the dish, bringing out the natural flavors of the ingredients and providing a savory note.
- 1/8 tbsp. of tapioca flour adding a smooth and chewy texture to the dish, helping to bind the ingredients together and creating a satisfying mouthfeel.
- 1/4 tbsp. of sugar balancing the flavors of the dish, adding a touch of sweetness to complement the savory and umami notes.
- 1/4 cup of wood ear mushroom a type of edible fungus that adds a unique and earthy flavor to the dish, providing a slight crunch and enhancing the overall texture.
- 1/2 package of banana leaf used as a traditional wrapping material, imparting a subtle and aromatic flavor to the dish, creating an appealing presentation and adding a hint of natural sweetness.
- 1/4 tsp. of black pepper adding a subtle and warm spiciness to the dish, enhancing the overall flavor profile and providing a pleasant kick.
- 1/2 lb. of finely ground pork contributing a rich and meaty flavor to the dish, providing a hearty and satisfying element.
- 1 green onion stalk adding a fresh and mild onion flavor to the dish, providing a subtle aromatic note and a touch of color.
- 1/2 tsp. of oyster sauce a savory and umami-rich condiment that adds depth and complexity to the dish, imparting a delightful savory note.
- 1.5 cloves of garlic cloves, adding a pungent and aromatic flavor to the dish, infusing it with a delightful garlicky aroma and taste.
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped, contributing a mild and sweet onion flavor to the dish, enhancing the overall depth of flavors.
- 1 tsp. of annatto seed oil adding a vibrant and rich orange color to the dish, imparting a subtle and unique flavor reminiscent of earthy and nutty undertones.
- 1 cup of rice flour a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour, creating a light and delicate texture in the dish while providing a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
- In a bowl, mix together rice flour, salt, oil, and water until you get a smooth paste-like consistency.
- Place banana leaves on your work surface and spread some of the paste in the center.
- Place the wood ear mushroom, pork, shrimp, minced garlic, shallot, and green onion in the center of the paste. Add a teaspoon of oyster sauce to enhance the flavor.
- Fold each side of the banana leaves over the filling until it is completely enclosed.
- Place your Banh nam in a steamer and steam for about 30 minutes or until it is cooked through. Serve your Banh nam with some dipping sauces.
One serving of Banh Nam provides approximately 230 calories, 7 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
How to Store Banh nam?
Banh nam can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, steam or microwave until hot. Alternatively, you can freeze Banh nam for up to 3 months and then thaw before steaming or microwaving.
Can pregnant women eat this?
Yes, Banh nam is safe for pregnant women. However, it is recommended to check with a doctor before consuming any food while pregnant.
How do I know when the cake is done steaming?
When the cake has cooked through and the filling is no longer pink in color, it’s ready to be served. Besides, the cake should have a soft and chewy texture.
Is Banh nam gluten-free?
Yes, Banh nam is naturally gluten-free as it only contains rice flour and other gluten-free ingredients. Also, some recipes may call for tapioca starch instead of rice flour.
Can I use any type of protein for the filling?
Yes, you can choose to fill your Banh nam with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, or even tofu. Experiment and see what flavors work best for you!
Can I make this dish vegan?
Yes, you can easily substitute the pork and shrimp with tofu and other vegan proteins. However, make sure to check the ingredients of your oyster sauce as some may contain animal products. Additionally, you can also use vegetable oil instead of coconut or olive oil if desired.
Banh nam is a delicious traditional Vietnamese dish made with rice flour, pork, shrimp, and mushrooms that are wrapped in banana leaves. It is usually served as an appetizer or snack with dipping sauces.
This dish can easily be made gluten-free and vegan-friendly by using the appropriate ingredients.
To make Banh nam, simply combine all the ingredients for the filling, wrap it in banana leaves, and steam until cooked through. Store the Banh nam in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy this flavorful and satisfying dish with friends and family!
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