Water Fern Cake is a popular street food in the central of Viet Nam, especially in Da Nang, Hue and Quang Nam. The raw materials to make Banh Beo are fice flour and tapioca starch, topped with minced shrimp according to Hue Style of a mixture of shrimp and pork in Quang Nam, Da Nang style.
Water fern cake in Hue style is quite small with not too much things in it so people can enjoy the ingredients clearly. On the top of the cake, there will be a thin class of oil, roasted shrimp crumble and some pieces of pork skin. Besides, Banh Beo Quang Nam version is bigger and more popular to every class of people. The surface of it is warm and a bit runny. It is easy for people to feel the softness, warmth from the cake and the topping; crunchiness and nuttiness from peanuts covered in the fish sauce with the peanut and fish sauce in it. Banh beo is often served in a plate with fish sauce on top or in a bigger saucer than Banh beo Hue and will be devided into 2 or 4 parts to eat easier.
The ingredients made Water Fern Cake include rice flour, tapioca starch, oil, shrimp or pork belly. Put the rice flour, tapioca starch and water on a large mixing bowl. Stir it carefully and allow the mixture to rest for 1 hour to decrease the strong smell of flour. Add a little salt and cooking oil and then transfer to a tea pot or a jug for easy pouring. Stack small condiment bowls in a steamer and steam the empty bowls for several minutes. Wrap the lid of the steamer with a thick kitchen towel to prevent water from dripping into the cakes and pour a thin layer of the mixture in each bowl and steam for 4 minutes then waiting for them to cool. Each cake should have a nice “dimple”.

DSCN3999 banh beo beo1

To make topping Hue-style Water Fern Cake, the shrimps will be seasoned with salt, pepper and chicken stock and then set aside for 15 minutes. Steam for 5 minutes or microwave for 2-3 minutes until the cake turn orange. In a mortar and pestle, grind the prawns till a rough texture. Then roast in a pan (without oil) on medium low heat for 1-2 minutes to remove some of the moisture till separated.

Hue-style Water Fern Cake
With Quang-style topping, pork belly, minced shrimp and shrimp paste will be added in a heated pan on medium high heat and fry without any oil for several minutes so that some fat will melt into liquid form. Dilute the banh beo batter with a little water and slowly add to the pan until you get a slightly thick consistency.

Quang-style Water Fern Cake
To make the sauce: the shrimp shells and simmer will be cooked in a sauce pan for 5 minutes. Extract the broth and discard the shells. Apply 1:1:5 ratio: 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 5 tbsp shrimp broth. Crush fresh chili with a spoon and add to the fish sauce.
Normally Banh Beo is eaten for breakfast like other things for breakfast such as Pho, My Quang, Banh Mi (Bread) or Xoi (sticky rice). Besides, other people also enjoy it as a snack in the afternoon. Water Fern Cake is usually served with Banh Bot Loc (Vietnamese transparent dumpling) or Banh Nam (cake stuffed with minced shrimp and pork).

1a banh beo - steamed rice cakes with shredded shrimp banhbeo


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