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Mung Bean Crepes

Mung Bean Crepes
Mung beans turn up in various guises in Asian cooking, with fresh sprouts being the most common form. This favorite dish of southern Vietnam uses yellow mung beans—split dried green mung beans with their husks removed. Nuoc cham is a condiment offered as an accompaniment to myriad Vietnamese dishes, such as these crepes.

Ingredients:

For the nuoc cham:

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbs. sugar
  • 3 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and thinly sliced
     on the diagonal
  • 1 Tbs. grated carrot
  • 1 Tbs. grated daikon

  • 1⁄2 cup dried yellow mung beans
  • 1 1⁄2 cups coconut milk
  • 3⁄4 cup rice flour
  • 2 1⁄2 tsp. sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 1⁄2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 10 fresh button mushrooms
  • 5 Tbs. canola oil, or as needed
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 1 head red-leaf lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh mint sprigs
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves

Directions:

To make the nuoc cham, using a mortar and pestle, grind together the garlic and sugar until a paste forms. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a mini food processor and process to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and water. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and add the chili, carrot and daikon. Set aside.

Pick over the mung beans, discarding any misshapen beans or grit. Rinse the beans, put in a bowl and add boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

In a blender, combine the soaked beans and coconut milk and puree until smooth. Add the rice flour, 1 1⁄2 tsp. of the sugar, the salt and turmeric. Process until well mixed. Pour the mung bean batter through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, fish sauce, garlic, the remaining 1 tsp. sugar and the pepper and stir well. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Thinly slice the onion. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and thinly slice the caps.

In a large sauté pan over high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the canola oil. Add the onion and sauté until light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to wilt, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the bean sprouts to the bowl.

Wipe the pan with paper towels, return it to high heat and warm 1 Tbs. of the canola oil. Add the shrimp and their marinade and sauté until they turn opaque and are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add to the mushroom mixture.

In a 10-inch nonstick fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the canola oil. When the oil is hot, pour in 1⁄4 cup batter and quickly swirl to cover the pan bottom evenly. Cook until the crepe is crisp and brown at the edges and set in the middle, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a wide spatula, slide the crepe, crisp side down, onto a platter. Spread 3 heaping Tbs. of the mushroom mixture onto half of the crepe. Carefully fold the crepe over the filling. Repeat to make 3 or 4 more crepes, adding more oil to the pan if needed and evenly distributing the shrimp among the crepes.

Arrange the lettuce, mint, cilantro and basil on plates. The crepes are cut in half, and diners wrap each half with lettuce, garnish with fresh herbs and drizzle with nuoc cham.
Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Asian, by Farina Wong Kingsley (Simon & Schuster, 2003).