One of my favorite street food style Vietnamese dishes is bánh lọt xào – a simple stir fry of rice noodles, eggs, and a molasses-based “thick soy sauce.” The flavor profile bears resemblance to bánh bột chiên, a Vietnamese pan-fried rice cake similar to the turnip cake served at dim sum restaurants. There are only a few ingredients involved, so if you have the fixins on hand, this could make for a very quick meatless dinner!
NomCat Tip for the Ingredients:
1. Bánh Lọt: The namesake of the dish, these noodles are readily available at Asian grocery stores that stock freshly made rice noodle products, tofu, soy milk, etc. They can be found next to the hủ tiếu (wide, flat rice noodles) packaged in clear bags like in the photo below. The brand we purchased hails from El Monte, CA and is labeled “rice pin noodles,” after their tapered shape. If you have difficulty finding these, you could substitute fresh (or dried and reconstituted) phở noodles, thus making phở xào. Alternatively, you could stop by a Korean grocery store and get a package of duk (떡), round discs of rice flour cakes (although I would blanch them first to soften).
NOTE: The bánh lọt used in this recipe is not to be confused with the green jelly bánh lọt (also known as chendol in other Southeast Asian cuisines) used in Vietnamese desserts, or chè. They are very similar in shape, although which came first, I can’t be sure…
2. Thick Soy Sauce: Definitely not the “soy sauce” that typically comes to mind, thick soy sauce is made of mostly molasses and is a very viscous, dark colored fluid. I buy the one from Koon Chun which is also a popular brand for hoisin sauce, but be sure to read the label! I’ve been known to accidentally buy the wrong product… all of their jars have the same yellow labels and differ only in the text (all written in the same red capitalized letters).
1 15-ounce package of bánh lọt (or other rice noodles)
1 tablespoon olive oil + 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic oil)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons thick soy sauce
Soy sauce or seasoning sauce to taste (I sprinkle in about 1 to 2 teaspoons and let the diners add more to their liking)
Scant handful of green onions, chopped
If your noodles were in the refrigerator, pierce the packaging and microwave for 1-2 minutes to help soften (and separate) the noodles. If your noodles are fresh from the store, skip this step.
In a large pot (or wok), heat the oil on medium-high heat and saute the garlic. If using pre-made garlic oil, make sure the garlic bits do not get too dark. Toss in the noodles and stir vigorously to separate.
Drizzle in the thick soy sauce, keeping the noodles moving so the molasses does not burn.
I usually just crack the eggs directly into the pot and stir to mix, but you could also beat the eggs in a small bowl first and then add them to the noodles. Stir to combine and coat the noodles in egg.
Grind in some fresh cracked pepper and sprinkle with soy sauce or seasoning sauce. I also like to sprinkle in a bit of garlic salt for extra flavor. It’s OK to prepare this a bit under-seasoned so the diner could season to taste.
Add the chopped green onions. You’ll want to just wilt them. When the moisture from the eggs has cooked off, remove from the heat and serve. You could whip up a quick “sauce” of soy sauce and sriracha for a spicy kick to serve alongside the noodles.
This recipe yields 2-3 servings.
Optional: bánh lọt xào is often prepared with bean sprouts. Martin isn’t a big fan so we did not include them here. If you plan to use them, be sure to pluck off the roots and rinse the sprouts in cool water. Drain well and add them at the beginning when you first toss the noodles with the oil.
I love the chewy texture and fun-to-eat shape of the bánh lọt, and I enjoy making this dish at home as it can be too greasy when prepared at Vietnamese-Chinese restaurants. This quick and easy recipe is also a great way to participate in Meatless Mondays (although you could easily add some slices of beef, chicken, or even seafood for endless variations on this dish). Enjoy!