Bánh bột lọc is a small, clear-looking, chewy tapioca dumpling in Vietnamese cuisine that can be eaten as appetizers or small snacks. They are usually filled with shrimp and pork belly, often being topped with fried shallots and served with sweet chili fish sauce. It is said to have originated from Huế, as the city was once the imperial capital of the Nguyễn dynasty and known for having simple, yet sophisticated dishes.
The dish’s name is believed to have come from its clear, dumpling-like appearance, as the term bánh bột lọc loosely translates to “clear flour cake.” In Vietnamese, the word bánh can mean “cake” or “bread,” but can also be used as a general term for foods that are made from any type of flour, the most common being rice or tapioca. “Bột” literally means “flour”, although it does not specify the type, and “lọc” means “refine” or “clarify.”
Bánh bột lọc can either be steamed or boiled and wrapped with or without banana leaf . With the banana leaf wrapping, it is called BÁNH BỘT LỌC LÁ, meaning “clear flour cake with leaf.” Without the banana leaf wrapping, it is called BÁNH BỘT LỌC TRẦN, meaning “clear flour cake bare.” The filling is traditionally a whole grilled shrimp with the shell on and a slice of pork belly, but variations have had the filling be shrimp without the shell, no pork belly, ground pork, mushrooms, and onions. In addition to tapioca flour, corn starch and rice flour have also been known to be added in the making the translucent wrapper.
Bánh bột lọc trần is made by adding boiling water with tapioca starch, then mixing and kneading until a smooth, soft, and elastic dough is formed. The dough is then divided into small balls and flattened, where the filling is placed in the middle. The dough gets folded over the filling and the edges pinched together to seal the filling in and creating a dumpling shape. The dumplings are cooked in boiling water, then drained and rinsed with cold water. Making bánh bột lọc lá is similar to making bánh bột lọc trần. The dough is placed in blanched banana leaves, some filling is added in the center, and then some more dough is placed on top to cover the filling. The banana leaves are then wrapped tightly and tied together with small strands of banana leaf before being steamed. Regardless of the method, the dish can be frozen for later use.
- 400 gr tapioca starch (bột năng)
- 250 ml boiling water
* For sauteing:
- 1 tbsp cooking
- 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp chopped shallot
- 1 tbsp sugar
* For marinade:
- 200 gr prawn, (peeled or Unpeeled), deviened, cut into halves (or keep whole if they are small in size)
- 200 gr pork belly (Vietnamese: thịt ba chỉ or ba rọi), cut into small dices
- 1/2 and 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp achiote seed oil
- 2 tsp chicken powder
- 1/2 tsp and 1/2 tsp ground peppercorn
- 2 tsp salt
- Fish sauce
- Sliced hot chile
* Scallion oil (Called Mỡ hành):
- 60 gr sliced scallion
- 50 ml cooking oil
- Marinate prawn with 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic, 1/2 tsp ground peppercorn, 1 tsp chicken powder, 1 tsp salt, keep a side about 10 minutes
- Marinate pork the same way as prawn, then add 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp achiote seed oil.
- In a sauteing pan, with medium heat, put 1 tbsp cooking, sweat chopped shallot, garlic, add pork, prawn, saute a couple minute, add 1 tbsp sugar, turn down the heat, slowly cook about 10 minutes, adjust seasoning to taste, keep aside.
- Making dough: In a mixing bowl, put 250 gr tapioca starch, add 250 ml boiling water, mix well (mixture is still hot, so we use wooden spatula to stir), let it cool down, add remaining starch (150 gr), use your hand to knead the dough until it is not stick in fingers.
- Roll out to flatten the dough, use ring cutter, cut into round shape, use spoon, fill stuffing in center, fold the dough and seal up (see pictures).
- In a pot, with boiling water, put some cooking oil, a little bit salt, add BÁNH BỘT LỌC, cook 10 minutes or they look cristal clear, take them off, put into cool water. When they are all done, drain off the water. (drizzle some oil to prevent they are sticked together)
- Making scallion oil: Heat the oil in sauce pan, add sliced scallion, when they are turned green and cooked, take off from heat (not burnt).
- Arrange BÁNH BỘT LỌC on serving plate, scatter with some scallion oil, served with dip. They can be served at room temperature as appetizer.
- For a dip, It is simple, in a bowl, put fish sauce and sliced chile. You can add more crushed garlic, sugar, lime juice (or vinegar) if you like (Called NUOC CHAM).
- They can be made in advance and kept (uncooked) in freezer a few months.