Banh chay - Vietnamese Vegetable Fritters with Instant rice paper sheets
Easy - You got this
Fresh and seasonal banh chay (vegetable fritters) on a bed of Vietnamese herbs, rolled compactly in instant rice paper sheets, and served with a Vietnamese dipping sauce, to create the perfect Vietnamese rice paper roll experience.
Vegetarian food is easily found throughout Vietnam and as it’s closely connected to Buddhism practices. Those who follow the Buddhist religion typically eat vegetarian either periodically, as part of purification rituals, or on a life-long basis. Growing up, Mum and Dad decided to devote themselves to a permanent vegetarian diet, and as a result I was exposed to the many beautiful, delicious and wonderful vegetarian meals Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. These can vary from easy vegetarian meals, like this vegetable fritter recipe, or more involved dishes such as pho chay (vegetarian pho).
Vegetable fritters appeared in our household whenever we all craved cold rolls—a frequent occurrence. The unctuous and naturally sweet taste made them the perfect rice paper roll filling. They are extremely versatile as they can be made up of almost any seasonal vegetable. Our go to family recipe are similar to zucchini and carrot fritters but also feature thinly sliced potato that become crispy when cooked and demand a generous seasoning of salt.
We are not prolific consumers of MSG in our household and instead opt to use a good quality salt. My tip for the best savoury tasting banh chay and Vietnamese dipping sauce is Murray River Pink Salt. Murray River salt has a unique taste that’s not overly salty, and a fine texture which makes it a dream to use in the everyday kitchen. Since introducing mum to Murray River salt flakes, she’s been a convert and now uses it often in her everyday cooking.
Banh chay is best enjoyed in rice paper rolls, so do yourself a favour and grab some instant rice paper sheets—the additional texture will elevate the rice paper roll dining experience. Alternatively, if you can’t get your hands on them, stick to lettuce cups which are arguably just as delicious!
1 cup plain flour
¼ cup rice flour
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 ½ teaspoons Murray River Sea Salt
375ml cold beer or cold soda water
1 large potato, thick julienne or grated
1 large carrot, peeled and thick julienne or grated
1 medium zucchini, 1cm diced or grated
1L neutral cooking oil
Vegetarian dipping sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice from ½ lemon or lime
1 teaspoon Murray River Sea Salt
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 chili, finely minced (optional)
60g Instant rice paper sheets or substitute with lettuce cups
1 bunch mint
1 bunch Vietnamese perilla (optional)
1 bunch coriander (optional)
1 bunch Vietnamese fish herbs (optional)
2 baby cos lettuce or ½ iceberg lettuce
How to make batter:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add egg and whisk well until foamy (2-3 minutes) then add remaining batter ingredients and whisk well until no clumps are present. Place in the fridge for minimum 15 minutes
Duncan’s tip: Keeping the batter cold will ensure the vegetable cakes will turn out light and crispy when fried.
How to make vegetable fritters:
1. In a medium frypan/saucepan add oil and bring to 180C.
2. In the meantime, add potatoes, carrots and zucchinis to the batter and combine well.
Duncan’s tip: dicing the zucchinis will add another layer of texture to the vegetable cakes.
3. Fill a small ladle with the vegetables and batter mixture and pour it into the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes then flip and fry for a further 2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove and place on a metal rack to allow excess oil to drain, then season with a pinch of Murray River Sea Salt. Repeat this step until the batter is finished.
How to make vegetarian dipping sauce:
1. In a small mixing bowl, add all ingredients and stir well until sugar dissolves.
Enjoy with instant rice paper sheets:
1. On an instant rice paper sheet add lettuce, a combination of Vietnamese herbs and a fried vegetable cake.
2. Leaving the ends open, gently but firmly roll the rice paper roll to form a large cigar. Generously dip in the soy dipping sauce and savour each bite
Duncan’s tip: Instant rice paper sheets will soften immediately at any exposure to moisture.