Pancakes: East meets West

When the temperature starts to drop to 20 degrees Celsius, little sidewalk furnaces are fired up to cook winter snacks: pancakes with banana, sweet potatoes, and in recent years, sweet corn. 

Pancakes: East meets West
Frying pan: One of many ways to make apple pancakes. VNS Photos Doan Tung

The recipe for pancakes could not be simpler with cheap ingredients used to create crispy, comforting and affordable snacks for the city's school children, struggling students and even successful adults longing for their more modest student past.

We had a chance to attend a cooking demonstration with Poland's Masterchef 2018 Ola Nguyen recently at the most iconic cooking venue one can think of in the capital: Hà Nội Legend Metropole Hotel.

She was teaching how to cook apple crêpe, Polish style. "This is very easy and the food we have is very warm, comforting and delicious," she said as she selected green apples and started to peel them.

Poland is among the top ten apple exporters in the world, with the majority of the fruit heading to the Middle East. I had a chance to visit an apple farm a few years back near Warsaw and was amazed at how local orchards plant their apple trees and join co-operatives to store their produce for sale all year round.

Picking up some wheat flour to make the batter, Ola said, in Vietnamese: "When cooking Polish dishes, which I'm going to demonstrate, you don't have to worry too much about the weights. Go by your feeling. Polish dishes are very heart-warming and comforting, I don't know why they have not become more popular around the world!

Pancakes: East meets West
Food Ambassador: Poland Masterchef 2018 Ola Nguyen shows how to make apple pancakes at a Gastronomy Week in Hanoi.

"In Poland, there are many types of apples. The best you can use are the small red apples, which are crispy and very flavourful," she said.

"Outside of Poland, you can use Granny Smiths instead," Polish chef Mateusz Bujak added.

The recipes for making the batter are almost identical: a cup of wheat flour, a couple of eggs, two tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt and a cup of water or milk.

There're some differences between the Polish and Vietnamese methods of making the batter: If you want to make the mix smoother, add 20g of melted butter and half a teaspoon of baking soda. The baking soda releases bubbles in the mix and makes it fluffy and soft.

"I don't know if you have vanilla sugar in Vietnam," Ola said. "But it is very popular in Poland. Especially when you heat it up, the vanilla smells so good."

In the Vietnamese version, it's rare to use butter or baking soda. The batter is thin, just barely enough to cover the sliced pieces of sweet potato, banana or sweetcorn.

Pancakes: East meets West
Apple pancake, Polish style.
 


The Vietnamese pancakes should be golden crispy while the banana and potato should be soft.

So what makes the perfect apple pancake? A little crispy round the edges, of course, but the cooked dough should also be soft. The use of sour apples balances with the sweet batter.
You can serve the pancakes hot with powdered sugar, strawberry jam or vanilla ice cream, and it's perfect for dessert.

The Vietnamese sisters of apple pancakes are mostly sold on the street as snacks.

But the same batter can be used for a Hanoian delicacy, which is still the signature dish of the city's West Lake area: bánh tôm Hồ Tây, or Hồ Tây shrimp cakes.

Originally served at lake restaurants famous for this delicacy, shops in the Old Quarter also offer the dish now, but a true treat of shrimp cakes should be enjoyed contemplating the lake on an autumn afternoon.

Pancakes: East meets West
Hanoi delicacy: The best shrimp cakes come from West Lake neighbourhoods.


Sweet potatoes are julienned and mixed into the batter, and two fresh shrimp are placed on top before frying. The shrimp used to come from West Lake, but today it's illegal to fish in the lake, so the shrimp are sourced from other parts of Hanoi. They must be small and cooked with the heads and shells intact.

The cakes should be served hot with sweet sour dipping sauce and fresh vegetables.

I happened to have two little apples in my bag I’d bought from the market during the cooking show. Wanting to see the difference between the two types of apples, we peeled one and made a pancake with a Vietnamese apple.

The result was a more nuanced taste of sweet and sour in the Granny Smith pancakes. The Vietnamese apple pancakes mostly tasted sweet.

"This apple is very good: small, hard and flavourful," said Bojak holding the apple I gave him. "Not exactly like the Polish apples," added Ola, "but you could use them to make cakes." VNS

Nguyen My Ha

HCM City ranked as world's fourth best hub for street food

HCM City ranked as world's fourth best hub for street food

HCM City ranks 4th among the best cities for street food-obsessed travelers, according to a survey by CEOWORLD.

Putting Vietnamese specialities on the world cuisine map

Putting Vietnamese specialities on the world cuisine map

After Vietnam’s legendary Pho Thin Lo Duc proved popular among customers in Tokyo, Japan, Banh Mi Phuong Hoi An (Ms Phuong Baguette in Hoi An) recently debuted in Seoul, South Korea. 

 
 

Other News

.
Ninh Binh to continue as host of National Tourism Year in 2021
Ninh Binh to continue as host of National Tourism Year in 2021
TRAVELicon  16/06/2020 

The northern province of Ninh Binh will continue to be host of National Tourism Year in 2021 after activities within this year’s programme were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Japan considers easing entry restrictions for Vietnam
Japan considers easing entry restrictions for Vietnam
TRAVELicon  16/06/2020 

Japan is about to make a decision to ease the entry ban on Vietnam in the first relaxation of travel restrictions that were imposed due to the spread of the new coronavirus.

Exploring culturally-rich Van Phuc silk weaving village in Hanoi
Exploring culturally-rich Van Phuc silk weaving village in Hanoi
PHOTOSicon  16/06/2020 

The summer months have seen increasing numbers of young visitors flock to Van Phuc silk weaving village in Hanoi to learn about the traditional craft and to snap beautiful photos.

Quang Ngai nearshore coral reef amazes visitors
Quang Ngai nearshore coral reef amazes visitors
TRAVELicon  15/06/2020 

The stunning coral site at Ganh Yen Beach in Quang Ngai Province has been an attraction for many visitors.

Squid catching off Son Tra with local fisherman
Squid catching off Son Tra with local fisherman
TRAVELicon  15/06/2020 

It’s about 4am and street vendor cafés are full of local fishermen before a new fishing day begins at dawn.

Violet flowers shine on hill in Sa Pa
Violet flowers shine on hill in Sa Pa
TRAVELicon  16/06/2020 

A hill of mã tiên thảo flowers is a popular tourist draw at Muong Hoa Cable Station of Sun World Fansipan Legend in Sa Pa Town, the northern province of Lao Cai.

Visitors flock back to HCM City’s oldest garden post Covid-19
Visitors flock back to HCM City’s oldest garden post Covid-19
VIDEOicon  15/06/2020 

After closing for nearly two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saigon zoo and botanical gardens Thao Cam Vien reopened in late May and has once again become a popular destination for visitors, in particular youngsters. 

Vietnam has opportunity to create new tourism products
Vietnam has opportunity to create new tourism products
TRAVELicon  16/06/2020 

Nguyen Trung Khanh, general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said there are many things that need to be done to recover the tourism industry.

Vietnam Airlines opens seven new domestic routes
Vietnam Airlines opens seven new domestic routes
TRAVELicon  12/06/2020 

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines opened seven new routes on June 12 linking Vinh city in central Nghe An province and the northern port city of Hai Phong with domestic tourist destinations.

Hue to promote itself as 'City of bikes' to attract locals and foreign tourists
Hue to promote itself as 'City of bikes' to attract locals and foreign tourists
TRAVELicon  12/06/2020 

To preserve and promote its heritage, culture and landscape, the central city of Hue will continue its post-Covid-19 development journey by promoting itself as a “City of bikes” and encourage the development of a bicycle network.

Gov’t wants summer, national holiday plan prepared to boost tourism
Gov’t wants summer, national holiday plan prepared to boost tourism
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam has asked the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Ministry of Education and Training to cooperate with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and relevant agencies to propose a summer and national holiday plan

Vietnam Airlines to reopen international air routes starting from July 1
Vietnam Airlines to reopen international air routes starting from July 1
TRAVELicon  12/06/2020 

Vietnam Airlines has announced plans to reopen international air routes as of July 1 to several destinations in the Republic of Korea (RoK), Taiwan (China), Hong Kong (China), and across Southeast Asia.

Taiwan, Tokyo and Cambodia among safe destinations for flights to resume: PM
Taiwan, Tokyo and Cambodia among safe destinations for flights to resume: PM
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

China’s Guangzhou and Taiwan, Seoul and Tokyo, together with Laos and Cambodia were among potential international air routes Vietnam is considering reopening, after months of border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Da Nang tourism promoted on BBC
Da Nang tourism promoted on BBC
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

BBC World News will broadcast a video on tourism in the central city of Da Nang on its Asia-Pacific channel this month.

Foreign arrivals could reach 6-8 million in 2020 if int’l tourism resumes in Q3
Foreign arrivals could reach 6-8 million in 2020 if int’l tourism resumes in Q3
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

Vietnam could welcome 6 to 8 million foreign visitors this year if COVID-19 remains under control and international tourism could be resumed in the third quarter of this year, a webinar in Hanoi on June 10 heard.

Van Don-Danang air route set to reopen next month
Van Don-Danang air route set to reopen next month
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

After a four-month suspension triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the air route between Van Don International Airport in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Danang International Airport 

Future looks bleak for HCMC’s tourism industry
Future looks bleak for HCMC’s tourism industry
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

Despite HCMC being considered the country's tourist hub, its tourism industry reported losses of trillions of Vietnamese dong due to the coronavirus pandemic, 

Vietnamese locations named among best backpacker spots by Hostelworld
Vietnamese locations named among best backpacker spots by Hostelworld
TRAVELicon  10/06/2020 

Ha Giang, Quang Binh, Ninh Binh, Ha Long, and Quy Nhon of Vietnam have all been featured among the best global backpacker destinations for 2020, according to recent rankings published by Hostelworld.

Vietnam prepares to welcome foreign tourists again
Vietnam prepares to welcome foreign tourists again
TRAVELicon  10/06/2020 

The tourism sector is working with ministries and relevant agencies to welcome international tourists to Vietnam when the COVID-19 pandemic is under control in some key markets.

Fansipan mountain - The season of Verveine flowers
Fansipan mountain - The season of Verveine flowers
TRAVELicon  11/06/2020 

Visitors to Fansipan mountain in Sapa misty town in the northern province of Lao Cai this season will have a chance to witness a valley of stunning purple of Verveine flowers.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN