Getting steamed

SONY DSC

SONY DSC
Walk into Ba Bar on a Saturday or Sunday and you’ll see this man standing in a cloud of steam.

His name is Mr. Chau, and on weekends he prepares a dish called Banh Cuon. It’s a Vietnamese rice crèpe, filled with ground pork (Carlton Farms) and wood mushrooms, topped with slices of cha lua (Vietnamese ham) garnished with cucumbers and bean sprouts, and a generous sprinkling of the sweet dipping sauce called nuoc cham.

The trick is getting the crèpe to the proper, gossamer-thin consistency, which Mr. Chau does by grinding rice and adding just enough water to makeIMG-1459.JPG a slurry. (“Rice only; cornstarch is cheating!” he says.) He steams a ladle of the (slightly fermented) batter on a cloth stretched across a of pot of steaming water. Taken off too soon, they fall apart; left on too long, they become chewy.

An order of three Banh Cuon is $10. Perfect for breakfast

And here’s the same item, banh cuon, being prepared for the America’s Test Kitchen Seattle EATS tasting this afternoon at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Long line, as you can imagine.