Some people have childhood memories of their moms making pancakes on weekend mornings. My sister and I have memories of our mom making banh uot or Vietnamese steamed rice noodle sheets.
When I visited Vietnam last year, I got to watch the ladies at the markets making these fresh. It’s a painstaking process that involves pouring rice flour batter in crepe-like fashion over a steamer that resembles a drum. And then you use a chopstick to carefully lift the delicate sheet off.
Now, my mom never made rice noodle sheets from scratch. She bought them premade, rolled up in a bundle from the store. But my sister and I were delegated the task of separating the individual sheets from the bundle and tearing them into smaller pieces. It was perhaps almost as painstaking a process. But it also meant we were all in the kitchen making breakfast together.
A little while back, my husband and I took a short roadtrip to Philly and discovered a huge Vietnamese supermarket there, where I found fresh rice noodle sheets. I couldn’t resist getting some, bringing it back with us, and making our own Sunday morning breakfast of banh uot.
Steamed Rice Noodle Sheets (banh uot)
1 12- to 14-oz package of rice noodle sheets
1/4 steamed pork roll (cha lua, also known as Vietnamese ham)
1/4 cucumber, julienned
Vietnamese herbs, such as mint, Vietnamese coriander, red perilla, etc., cut into a chiffonade
nuoc cham sauce
1. Separate the rice noodle sheets and tear into pieces about the size of your palm.
2. Divide the rice noodle sheets into individual-size servings and set on plates. Drizzle a bit of scallion oil over each plate. Heat each plate in the microwave for about a minute. (My mother always used the microwave, but you could also steam it in a bamboo steamer or a wok.)
2. Cut the steamed pork roll into thin slices. Lay over the rice noodle sheets.
3. Top the rice noodle sheets and sliced pork roll with a handful of beansprouts, julienned cucumber, chiffonaded Vietnamese herbs, and a sprinkling of fried shallots. Serve with nuoc cham dressing.