Bánh Bèo

Bánh bèo is a type of small, steamed rice cake from Central Vietnam, often topped with savory ingredients and served with a sweet and spicy fish sauce for dipping.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
  • Street Food
  • Traditional
Home » Dishes A-Z » Bánh Bèo

Fact: Bánh bèo is named after its shape, which is similar to duckweed (bèo), an aquatic plant.

Flag of Vietnam#40 in Vietnam

Basic Information

Bánh Bèo: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/bahn beh-o/

Alternative Name(s)

No

Dish Type

Pancake

Course

Appetizer, main course

Mealtime

Anytime
Origin and Region

Bánh Bèo: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Central Vietnam

Associated Region

Thua Thien Hue
Vietnam Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Bánh Bèo Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Bánh Bèo: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Rice flour, toppings, fish sauce (for the savory version), coconut milk (for the sweet version).

Main Cooking Method

Steaming

Preparation Process

Rice flour batter is steamed in small bowls, then topped with savory ingredients and served with a special fish sauce mixture.
A Deep Dive

Bánh Bèo: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

Traditional Vietnamese dish of Hue and the Central region

Taste

Savory

Texture

Soft

Aroma

Fragrant

Color

White, colorful toppings

Serving Style

In bowls

Serving Temperature

Hot, warm, or at room temperature

Accompaniment

Bánh bột lọc, bánh ít, bánh đúc (in the South).

Occasions

On any occasions

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Non diet-specific

Calories

608 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for a serving of bánh bèo of steamed cakes.

Popularity

Vietnam

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Bánh Đúc
  2. Bánh Nậm

Popular Dining Area

Street vendors, eateries, and markets in Vietnam

Bánh bèo is a Vietnamese steamed rice cake that originates from Hue in the Central region of the country.

Banh Beo Overview

As a traditional dish in Vietnam, bánh bèo usually consists of three main elements, the white base made from rice flour, savory toppings, and the dipping sauce created using fish sauce.

Aside from the toppings, the fish sauce mixture is the main flavoring factor often poured directly over the steamed rice cakes. Depending on the region, this Vietnamese street food is adopted with different sizes, shapes, and ingredients.

For example, people in Sai Gon often pair bánh bèo with other rice cakes like bánh đúc, bánh bột lọc and bánh ít.

In Central Vietnam, Quang Nam and Hue are the two regions popular for their bánh bèo while the South even comes with a sweet version of the rice cake using mung beans and coconut milk.

Commonly, bánh bèo is a street food item served directly in the bowl it’s cooked, which is enjoyed by pouring the fish sauce over the surface.

Small bánh bèo is often eaten in one bite, while bigger servings of the rice cake are divided into smaller bites using a spoon.

Explore the wide array of bánh bèo made using various ingredients and come in different sizes. Additionally, I’ll let you in on the basic components that create bánh bèo before knowing about the advantages and disadvantages of eating this steamed rice cake.

Aside from that, make sure to know more about some of the inquiries related to bánh bèo and some dishes that have similarities to it.

Key Points

  • Bánh bèo is a Vietnamese steamed rice cake created in Hue in Central Vietnam.
  • It has three main elements, including the white base made from rice flour, savory toppings, and the dipping sauce.
  • It is a street food item that is served in small bowls and eaten with a spoon.

Bánh Bèo Images

What Are the Variants of Bánh Bèo?

Bánh bèo is not simply steamed rice cake with toppings, as each region in Vietnam offers a different take on this traditional specialty:

Banh Beo Hue

Often has a thinner profile

Banh Beo Quang Nam

Larger in size and thicker
The batter is much softer

Banh Beo Hai Phong

Noted for its dipping sauce made using a pork bone broth

Banh Beo Quang Tri

Has a unique cooking method
The rice cakes are thin

Banh Beo Quang Ngai

Has a thick consistency topping with a vibrant orange color

Banh Beo Hoi An

A popular snack in Hoi An’s Old Town, known for its delicate balance of flavors

Banh Beo Sai Gon

Often paired with other rice cakes

Banh Beo Binh Duong

Notably chewy texture due to the addition of pork skin

Banh Beo Da Nang

Has 2 varieties: bánh bèo tai (small at around ear size) and bánh bèo chén (comes in a bowl)

Banh Beo Quang Binh

Thin bánh bèo with a pure white color

Banh Beo Nghe An

Has a transparent look similar to bánh bột lọc
Possesses a chewy texture

Banh Beo Phan Thiet

Has a small size with a dent in the middle

Banh Beo Mien Trung

Has a thick topping with a vibrant orange color

Banh Beo Binh Dinh

A simple version of bánh bèo in Binh Dinh with pork toppings

Once you’ve discovered the many versions of bánh bèo, make sure to expand your understanding of the elements that make up this steamed rice cake.

What Ingredients Are Used to Make Bánh Bèo?

Bánh bèo in many regions of Vietnam mainly revolves around creating a white batter base for steaming before combining it with various toppings. For that, here are the basic elements that contribute to a bánh bèo:

Rice flour

Rice flour

The main ingredient for the cake base, giving it a soft and slightly chewy texture.

Tapioca starch

Tapioca starch

Sometimes mixed with rice flour to add a bit of a gelatinous, chewy quality to the cakes.

Shrimp

Shrimp

Fresh or dried shrimp are often used as a topping after being ground or chopped finely.

Steamed Pork

Pork

Boiled or steamed pork is sometimes shredded or cut into small pieces and used as a topping.

Scallions

Scallions

Finely chopped and mixed with oil, they are used as a garnish.

Crispy Pork Cracklings

Crispy pork cracklings

Also known as pork rinds, they add a crunchy texture when sprinkled on top.

Mung Bean

Mung beans

Sometimes used as a filling or topping, often in a paste form.

Nuoc Mam

Fish sauce

A staple in Vietnamese cuisine, it’s mixed with water, sugar, lemon juice, and chili to create a dipping sauce.

Fried shallots

Fried shallots

Offer a crunchy texture and a sweet, aromatic flavor as a topping.

To keep your spirit going, make sure to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of eating bánh bèo so your meal is worry-free.

Pros and Cons of Eating Bánh Bèo

These are a few good and bad aspects about eating bánh bèo that you should note down:

Pros

  • Gluten-free: The base of bánh bèo is made from rice flour, making it suitable for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
  • Light meal: Typically, Bánh bèo is light and can be a good snack or light meal, not too heavy on the stomach.
  • Customizable: This dish is highly customizable to suit different tastes and dietary requirements.
  • Versatility in flavors: The versatility in flavors means that bánh bèo is enjoyed by a wide range of palates, from sweet to savory.

Cons

  • Refined carbs: Since bánh bèo is mainly made from rice flour, it’s high in refined carbs and is not the best for those on low-carb diets.
  • Fish sauce: The dipping sauce is usually high in sodium, which is a concern for those with high blood pressure or sodium-restricted diets.

Aside from these features, allow me to quench your curiosity about bánh bèo by answering some of the concerns that people often have about this Vietnamese steamed rice cake.

Bánh Bèo FAQs

While traditional bánh bèo includes meat, there are vegetarian and vegan versions that use mushrooms and mung bean paste instead.

It’s best eaten fresh, but it can be reheated using a steamer to maintain its texture.

Bánh bèo is typically gluten-free as it is made from rice flour; however, it’s always best to check all ingredients, especially in the toppings and sauces, to be sure.

The rice cake should be firm yet tender, not mushy, and the toppings should be well-cooked especially the shrimp or meat components.

Similar Dishes of Bánh Bèo

Banh Duc

Bánh đúc is a traditional Vietnamese cake made from rice flour or tapioca flour and served with various foods.

Banh Nam

Bánh nậm is a Vietnamese dumpling from Central Vietnam, wrapped in banana leaves and made with rice flour, shrimp, and pork.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert

Education

  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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