Vietnamese Fried Rice Cakes (Banh Bot Chien)
I. Love. Street. Food. It’s comfort food on crack and every culture has their own unique takes on it. Banh Bot Chien – when you get this in Vietnam, the vendor will fry up these soft and chewy rice cakes, crack eggs into them, and serve them with some toppings and a sauce. It sounds super simple – and it is – but it covers a surprising amount of different textures and flavors.
You can make this with ready-made Banh Bot if you can find it at an Asian supermarket; it also comes in taro flavor (Banh Bot Khoai Mon)! If you can’t find it, you can also make your own with the recipe detailed below!
The handmade rice cake needs to be steamed. If you don’t have a steamer basket, don’t worry – you can assemble your own! Details below. Also, the batter needs to rest overnight, so plan accordingly!
Pstt *shameless plug* if you’d like to watch the process, check out my highlight for this recipe on my Instagram @pokethedough
For the rice cakes
1 cup rice flour (non-glutinous)
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1.5 cups water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
For the soy dipping sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white (or black) vinegar
1 small red chili pepper (1 tsp chopped) – optional
For the sweet garlic fish sauce (optional)
1 heaping tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
4-5 tbsp water
1/8 tsp vinegar
1-1.5 tsp lime juice (scant 1/4 of lime)
1 small Thai red chili pepper (1 tsp chopped) – optional
1-2 minced garlic cloves (about 2 tsp)
For the pickled veggies (optional)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded green papaya
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp black soy sauce
1 tbsp neutral oil
1 cup scallions, chopped
2 cooked Chinese sausages, minced – optional
Preparing the batter: In a microwavable bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, water, vegetable oil, and salt. Stir well to dissolve. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Preparing the steamer: If you have a steamer basket, prepare that as usual. If not, there are two options to assemble:
Take out a large pot and the mold you’re going to use for the rice cake. Choose a mold that will hold itself up on the inside rim of the pot, so that there is space underneath the mold.
(The goal here is to cook the rice cake in the mold without having any of the simmering water touch it; steam should be the only thing coming in contact with the mold and the rice cake.)
Pour an inch worth of water into the pot and set the stovetop to medium-high. Bring the water to a simmer.
If your mold is too small to hold itself up on the inside rim, choose a heat-safe bowl to hold the mold above the bottom of the pot. The same concept applies here – we don’t want the mold to touch the water that’s going to be simmering at the bottom of the pot.
Place the bowl inside and place the mold on top so that the mold does not touch the bottom of the pot. Pour an inch worth of water inside. Set the stovetop to medium-high. If the mold touches the water, use a bowl with a bigger height. Bring the water to a simmer.
Half-cooking the batter (overnight rest): Before putting it into the microwave, stir up the batter again. Microwave for 1-2 minutes (1 if your microwave is stronger than average, 2 if weaker than average).
Take out and stir well. Then microwave for 1 more minute. Take out and stir well. You will get rice flour paste that’s mostly soft solid that’s also slightly wet. If the batter is too liquidy, microwave for another minute and repeat.
Transfer the paste into any mold (I used a small loaf pan, a square mold would work great) greased with some vegetable oil. Smooth and flatten out the surface with a spoon or spatula.
When the steamer is ready (water is simmering), place the mold inside and cover with a lid.
Then steam the paste for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.
Making pickled veggies the day after: Mix ingredients for the pickled veggies and set aside for 15 minutes.
Making the sauces: Simply combine all the ingredients for each sauce. Set aside.
Final cooking: Remove the cake from the mold, cut into rectangular cubes either in the size of dominoes or your preference (I made mine half the size of dominoes because I used an 8-inch pan). Divide into 2 portions. We will fry each portion individually for one serving.
Mix each rice flour cake portion with 1 tsp black soy sauce.
In a non-stick frying pan, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Over medium-high heat, add the rice cake cubes and pan-fry both sides until crispy golden brown. Use a spatula to flip. It should take about 7-8 minutes each side.
Crack 2 eggs into the pan and break the yolks to bind the rice flour cubes together. Spread and swirl all of the liquid egg around to cover the bottom of the pan.
Top with chopped scallions and cook for 1-2 minutes until the egg is slightly set. Flip it over with a spatula to cook the other side for another minute.
Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with Chinese sausage and more scallions. Drizzle some sauce over the plate or serve on the side as a dipping sauce. Serve pickled vegetables on the side as well.