Banh Bot Loc Recipe: Modernising a Timeless Vietnamese Dish

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Banh Bot Loc is one of my favorite dishes, and what’s not to love about this meal? Traditional Vietnamese dishes are not only healthy, but they are also delicious, traits which have helped increase their popularity across the globe.

These meals also have modern variations to them which help you in whipping them up at much faster rates while preserving their nutritional benefits as well as their unbelievable tastes. When it comes to this favorite that I hold dear to my heart, the one thing that comes to mind is how savory it is.

These are not only dumplings but instead, they feature sweet shrimp and pork encased in a chewy and translucent dumpling skin. Their chewy and incredible taste is one of the reasons that people cannot get enough of this dish, terming it as one of the best dumplings across the globe.

Anyone with whom I have shared my banh bot loc tran recipe with swears by it and I have fast garnered quite many drop-ins at the house who sweetly ask me to make them some of my dumplings.

I gladly oblige as I too cannot get enough of this delicacy.

If you have been looking for a snack that you can whip up and eat at any time of the day, then this is it. I have to warn you though that upon the first bite, it will be hard not to reach for another as they are quite addictive, this coming from a person who has sampled hundreds of snacks over the years.

The dumpling skin is slippery and chewy at the same time, and once you combine this with tastefully prepared meat and some sweet fish sauce to go with it, it will take all of you not to shriek in joy. I should know as this was my first reaction to this meal and yet even after months of preparing it, I cannot seem to get over how good it is.

Read on and find out how you can enjoy this meal on the cheap if you have trouble believing that a snack can be this good or if you have tasted such shrimp and pork dumplings and are aching to get the recipe.

Banh Loc: Tasteful Shrimp and Pork Dumplings

Points to note

I find that it is much easier to get great results when there are a few tricks and tips in play. Though you do not have to adhere to the stipulations, following these pointers in your initial preparations gives you a much better chance at nailing the recipe. That said, let’s get into it:

When making Banh Bot Loc, I use lean pork. However, this is a matter of personal preference, and this should in no way bind you to use this. Some people have substituted it with pork belly and experienced equally fantastic results.

Others prefer to use chicken thighs owing to their love for poultry. If you do not care, either way, you can opt to skip this part and use a whole shrimp in its stead. The results will still be as tantalizing. When it comes to what to use, go with what best pleases you.

These dumplings are such that they should be bite-sized.

As such, you will note that not much shrimp and pork goes into them and you should cut your meat sizes accordingly. When it comes to shrimp, go for a small quantity and you should also ensure that the one you choose is fresh.

Sizes ranging from 71-90 are advisable, and you can cut them in half to get the bite sizes. If you decide to use much larger pieces, you should work on cutting them into thirds to give you the desired proportions.

One of the secrets to achieving great Banh Bot Loc lies in how you make the dough as the process can be a bit complicated especially for a first timer. If you have other things that you wish to do before making the batter, be sure to do them first or to delay them for a while as you will need to be hands-on at this stage.

A mistake in timing will cost you significantly as you will end up with dough that is too thick to be of any use to you. To start with, set the heat on low as this will enable the starch mixture to heat gradually. In this way, you will note once the tapioca lumps start forming and it is at this stage that you should remove the dough from the heat.

Any longer than necessary and you will have to redo the process which will cost you regarding time and ingredients. Also, when it comes to the dough, you should note that the more of it there is, the harder it becomes to work.

As such, if you plan on making a double recipe, you cannot prepare the double batch at once. You need to work on the first dough and proceed to make the dumplings before working on the second dough and making more dumplings.

The reason behind this is that once the mixture becomes cold, you will find that it is much harder to spread and you could end up having a very frustrating time during preparation.

However, this only applies if you are making the dumplings on your own. If you have many people in the kitchen, then you can make batches equal to the number of helpers.

A dumpling will generally require 0.4 to 0.5 ounces of dough, and this recipe should afford you up to forty-five dumplings per batch on the higher side. On the lower side, you will probably end up with 36 pieces. As such, be sure to calculate how many of these snacks you want to enjoy before doubling the recipe or altering it in any way.

It is quite easy to get carried away when boiling the translucent meat dumplings in a bid to get them ready in record time. While this may work for other recipes, it will have disastrous results for Banh Bot Loc. Vigorous boiling leads to detachment of the parchment paper from the dumpling, and you should trust me on this, you do not want that.

Easy does it in this case. Additionally, you may choose to steam the dumplings as opposed to boiling. You should note that the cooking time does not change in either circumstance and you will need at least ten minutes for the process to come to completion.

Many people love these snacks for their chewy nature.

I know I do. However, not everyone likes them for these, and if you are not a fan of chewy tastes, you can make the recipe lean towards your preference. Do this by adding two tablespoons of cold water and three tablespoons of rice flour to the dough.

The downside to this step is that they will not end up as translucent as those of the original Banh Bot Loc recipe. But make no mistake though; they will be just as mouth-watering. Parchment paper is a great material to use when making these delicacies. However, you could add more flavor to your meal through the use of banana leaves.

You will find that many people swear by cooking with these leaves for the aroma that they impart on the dumplings. Again, this is also a matter of preference. Go with the parchment paper if you are unsure of how you would enjoy the snacks with this flavor in tow.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make as many Vietnamese tapioca dumplings as you would like and enjoy them for the coming months. As long as you have not cooked the dumplings, you can store them in a freezer for as many as three months.

All you need for this is an airtight bag or container, and each time you need a quick snack, you can get hold of a few and get to steaming or boiling. Another fantastic thing about them is that you do not need to thaw them and you can go straight to cooking.

As such, whenever the craving hits, you do not have to start with preparation. I prefer using my free days to make as many as I can and store them for later use.

When it comes to cooked dumplings, you can only store them for a week.

The chances are high that you will have eaten them by day two. Hardly do I ever hear of chewy dumplings going bad. Who am I kidding? I am yet to come across someone claiming that they let their Banh Bot Loc go to waste in their fridge.

Banh Bot Loc Recipe

Ingredients

For the filling you will need:

  • 3 ounces of pork shoulder/ loin
  • 3 ounces of 71-90 shrimp
  • One garlic clove
  • ½ a small shallot
  • One teaspoon of sugar
  • ¼ a teaspoon of fish sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • One teaspoon of vegetable oil

For the dumpling skin, you will require:

  • 1 ½ cups of tapioca starch
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • One teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups of cold water

For the scallion oil, you need:

  • One small bunch of green onions
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

For the dipping sauce, you will use:

  • Two red chilies
  • Two tablespoons of sugar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • Two tablespoons of lime juice
  • One tablespoon of fish sauce

Directions

You will start by cutting the pork into slices that are about a quarter inch thick before slicing them into strips that are about 0.75 inches. Having done this, place them in a bowl.

Next, cut the shrimp into two and put the pieces into a separate bowl. Peel the garlic cloves and proceed to mince them before dicing the shallot into small pieces.

Marinating the pork not only makes it much softer but it also brings out its taste. To do this, combine ¼ of the minced garlic, ¼ of the diced shallots, ¼ teaspoon of the paprika, ¼ teaspoon of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of the fish sauce and 1/16 teaspoon of the ground black pepper.

Mix these ingredients in a bowl and add the pork to the mixture. Ensure that you cover all the parts of the pork with the spices and leave it there for fifteen minutes. Get started on marinating the shrimp as you wait for the pork to marinate.

For this, you will need ¼ of the minced garlic, ¼ of the diced shallots, 1/16 teaspoon of the ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon of sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. In a bowl, mix the spices until evenly combined before adding the shrimp. Cover the shrimp with the mixture, ensuring that you apply it equally. Allow the marination to take place for fifteen minutes.

Once the marination is complete, proceed to heat a skillet over medium to high heat. Add the vegetable oil and half a teaspoon of sugar to the skillet and allow to cook for fifteen seconds. Add the remaining minced garlic and the diced shallots once the melted sugar starts to change its hue to a golden brown.

Stir-fry these ingredients for fifteen seconds before adding the marinated pork.

Continue with the stir-frying for another three minutes before adding the marinated shrimp. Let them cook for another two minutes while stirring on a regular basis.

At this point, add more paprika to the mixture and allow for it to combine well before turning off the heat. Transfer the components to a plate where they can cool and give them time to do so.

As the meats cool, get hold of a parchment paper and cut it into four-inch squares until you get forty such shapes. You can make a few more, depending on the number of dumplings you wish to achieve. In a saucepan, mix the tapioca, salt, cold water, and vegetable oil. Combine them until the starch dissolves.

Next, place the pan over low heat and stir continuously as the mixture heats. Keep your eye on the mixture such that once lumps begin to form and stick to the whisk, you turn off the heat. This process should take about five to six minutes. Once you remove the mixture from the heat, continue to stir it at a fast rate for about one minute.

This procedure will allow for the starch to form a cake-like batter. Once you achieve this, place the saucepan over low heat and continue stirring for another minute. At this point, your dough should have thickened and taken an appearance such as that of pudding. If you have this, you can now transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool for five minutes.

Take one of the parchment squares and lay it on the worktop. Scoop about two and a half teaspoons of the dough and spread it on the paper in a circular manner. The circle should be about 2.5 inches in diameter. At the middle, place one piece of shrimp and one of pork.

Fold the square in half to make a semi-circle and press along the edges to seal the dumpling. Use a dish or cookie cutter to help shape the dumpling into a semi-circle and place it on the side. Repeat this process for the other dumplings until there are no more ingredients.

Next, bring water to boil in a large pot. Ensure that the boiling is rapid before reducing the heat such that the boiling is not as vigorous. Add half of the dumplings to the boiling water and let them sit in it for five minutes.

At this point, they will float at the top.

Proceed to rotate them and continue boiling them for another five minutes. Once they are ready, place them in a large bowl full of ice water and let them soak for three minutes. From here, move them to a colander where they will drain for five minutes before transferring them to a bowl. Do this for all the dumplings.

For the dipping sauce, you will need to combine the fish sauce, the sugar, the water, and the lime juice. Keep stirring until all the sugar dissolves before adding some chopped red chilies based on your preference.

For the scallion oil, start by chopping the green onions and placing them in a safe microwave bowl. Add the salt, vegetable oil and pepper and mix them. Next, put them in a microwave and let them heat for twenty seconds at high power.

When serving, start by brushing some of the scallion oil on a plate before peeling the parchment paper off the dumplings. Top these Vietnamese dumplings with the oil and serve them with a side of the dipping sauce. If you wish, you can add some fried onions to the topping for added taste.

Making Banh Bot Loc is such a fantastic experience. I hope you have lots of fun when doing so. Thank you!

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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