See-through banh bot loc

If you have a handful of shrimp, some pork, some cassava roots, and a banana leaf, what would you do? I’d boil the cassava and hope it doesn’t kill me, throw the shrimp and pork in the skillet with some stir fry vegetable, and wouldn’t know why on earth I even have a banana leaf. That’s why I’m not a Vietnamese chef.

Banh bot loc. That’s what you can make out of a handful of shrimp, some pork, some cassava roots, and a banana leaf. We were looking at these banana wraps while waiting for our banh mi thit nuong at Huong’s, and the owner, noticing our cuckoo stare, kindly told us what they were. The simplicity of the name gives away the main step of making the banh: loc (filter) the bot (flour), in this case cassava flour, which makes it translucent and a tad chewy. The shrimp-pork stuffing is well seasoned so the banh is good by itself without nuoc mam. I have the feeling the stuffing is cooked separately before coated by the flour to be steamed, but how it is cooked I know not Here’s the recipe. But I wouldn’t bother, if you’re in San Jose, for only $3 you get 6 of these.
I’m not sure what food category banh bot loc belongs too, appetizer, perhaps? We had them for snack one night. The nice thing is that was 4 nights after we bought them from Huong’s, refrigerated, and microwaved for 2 minutes on high. They tasted perfectly fresh.

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