Easy Bánh Nậm Recipe: Prep, Store & Reheat Tips for Authentic Flavors

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Diving into the heart of Vietnamese cuisine, we’ve discovered a gem that’s both simple and profoundly flavorful: Bánh Nậm. This delightful dish, hailing from the central regions of Vietnam, is a testament to the art of balancing taste and texture. Wrapped in banana leaves, these steamed flat rice dumplings are a savory treat, filled with a mixture of shrimp and pork, seasoned to perfection.

Join us as we embark on this culinary adventure, exploring the steps to craft this traditional delight. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious foodie, Bánh Nậm promises a taste of Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage, right in your kitchen.


Diving deeper into the essence of Bánh Nậm, we’ve carefully selected ingredients that will bring the rich and complex flavors of this Vietnamese delicacy to your kitchen. Let’s prepare the components for the filling, dough, and toppings to craft this exquisite dish.

For the Filling

  • 200 grams of ground pork
  • 150 grams of shrimp, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

For the Dough

  • 200 grams of rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch
  • 400 ml of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Fried shallots
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Additional fish sauce for serving

Follow these steps to blend these ingredients into the delightful Bánh Nậm, ensuring each bite is infused with the savory and aromatic qualities that make this dish uniquely appealing.

Tools and Equipment

Before diving into the enchanting process of making Bánh Nậm, it’s crucial to equip ourselves with the right tools and equipment. This ensures a smooth preparation and cooking experience, allowing the dish’s vibrant flavors and textures to shine through.

Steaming Set-up

At the heart of making Bánh Nậm is the steaming process, which requires a reliable steaming set-up. We’ll need a large steamer pot or a multi-tiered bamboo steamer. This equipment is essential for cooking the dumplings evenly and infusing them with the subtle, earthy aroma of the banana leaves.

Mixing Bowls

A set of mixing bowls is indispensable for preparing the Bánh Nậm filling and dough. We suggest using bowls of various sizes to efficiently handle and mix the ingredients. Glass or stainless-steel bowls are preferred for their durability and ease of cleaning.

Cutting Board and Knife

A sturdy cutting board and a sharp knife are necessary for finely chopping the shrimp and pork, and for efficiently prepping the banana leaves. A good knife not only makes the preparation safer but also more enjoyable, ensuring smooth cuts and preserving the ingredients’ integrity.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accuracy is key in balancing the Bánh Nậm’s flavors and textures. For this reason, a set of measuring cups and spoons is crucial. These tools help us measure the ingredients precisely, ensuring consistency and perfection in every batch of dumplings we make.

Banana Leaves

While not a tool or piece of equipment, having banana leaves is essential for wrapping the Bánh Nậm. They impart a distinctive aroma and flavor to the dumplings that is quintessentially Vietnamese. Before use, soften the leaves by briefly passing them over an open flame or soaking them in hot water, then wipe them clean, and cut into rectangles of the required size.

Brush for Oiling

Lastly, a small kitchen brush will come in handy to oil the banana leaves before adding the batter. This simple step prevents sticking, making it easier to unfold the delicate dumplings once they’re beautifully steamed.


Diving into the preparation of Bánh Nậm, we’re set to bring its authentic flavors to life. From cleaning the banana leaves to crafting the perfect dough, each step is crucial for achieving that unmistakable taste and texture.

Cleaning the Banana Leaves

Start by rinsing each banana leaf under cold water to remove any dirt or residue. Next, carefully pat them dry with a clean towel. To make the leaves pliable for wrapping, gently run them over an open flame or place them in a steaming rack over boiling water for a few minutes until they become soft and vibrant green. Allow the leaves to cool before cutting them into rectangles, approximately 8×10 inches each. This size is ideal for wrapping the Bánh Nậm, ensuring a snug fit for the filling without being too bulky.

Prepping the Filling

For the filling, we’ll need:

  • 1 cup finely ground pork
  • 1/2 cup minced shrimp
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup diced scallion

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the shallots until fragrant. Add the ground pork and minced shrimp, cooking until they’re no longer pink. Season with fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper, stirring well to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the scallions. Remove from heat and let it cool. This savory filling will provide the rich flavor that makes Bánh Nậm so irresistible.

Making the Dough

For the dough, gather the following:

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

In a mixing bowl, whisk together rice flour, water, and salt until smooth. Pour the mix into a saucepan, adding the tablespoon of oil, and cook over low heat. Stir continuously to prevent any lumps from forming. The mixture will gradually thicken and become translucent. Once it reaches a sticky dough consistency, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly. This dough will act as the base for our filling, enveloping it with a soft, chewy texture once steamed.

Assembling the Banh Nam

After preparing our components diligently, it’s time to bring everything together. Assembling Bánh Nậm is an art that beautifully encapsulates the essence of Vietnamese cooking, transforming simple ingredients into a delicacy that’s both visually appealing and delicious.

Filling the Banana Leaves

Let’s start with the base of our dish—the banana leaves. First, cut them into rectangles measuring about 8×10 inches. It’s essential to ensure that each piece is large enough to contain the filling while allowing room to fold. To make the leaves pliable and prevent tearing, briefly pass them over an open flame or blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds, then pat dry.

Next, lay out a banana leaf on a flat surface, with the shiniest side facing down. Spoon approximately two tablespoons of the dough onto the center of the leaf, spreading it into a small rectangle. Then, add a generous tablespoon of the savory filling on top of the dough. It’s important to leave some space around the edges to seal the Bánh Nậm properly.

Folding and Tying

Folding the Bánh Nậm requires a gentle touch to ensure the filling stays securely inside. Start by folding the shorter ends of the banana leaf over the filling. Then, fold the longer sides to create a neat packet. The goal is to wrap the filling tightly with the dough, using the banana leaf as a snug cover that will steam everything to perfection inside.

Once you have your packet, it’s time to secure it. Traditionally, thin strips of banana leaf are used to tie around the packet, keeping it closed during cooking. If tying with banana strips seems challenging, toothpicks or kitchen twine are excellent alternatives. Just make sure that whatever you use is safe to go into the steamer.

With our Bánh Nậm assembled and ready to go, the anticipation of tasting the fruits of our labor grows. Each packet is a testament to the care and tradition that goes into Vietnamese cuisine, promising a bite that’s a harmonious blend of texture and flavor. Let’s move on to steaming these beauties to achieve the perfect consistency and unwrap the deliciousness that awaits.

Cooking Instructions

Now that our Bánh Nậm packets are lovingly prepared and filled, it’s time to bring our creation to life by cooking them. Steaming will infuse the flavors deeply, ensuring each bite is a taste of Vietnamese tradition.

Steaming the Banh Nam

Start by preparing your steamer. Fill the bottom pot with water, ensuring it won’t touch the steamer basket when boiling. Bring the water to a steady boil over medium heat. Carefully line the steamer basket with a layer of banana leaves. This not only prevents sticking but also imparts an additional layer of flavor to our Bánh Nậm.

Place the Bánh Nậm packets in the steamer in a single layer, ensuring they do not overlap. If your steamer isn’t big enough to accommodate all packets in a single go, you may need to steam them in batches. Cover the steamer with its lid and let the magic happen.

Let the Bánh Nậm steam over medium heat for about 30 to 40 minutes. The timing can vary depending on the size of your packets. During this time, the steam works its way into the packets, cooking the dough to perfection while melding the flavors of the filling together.

Checking for Doneness

After 30 minutes, it’s a good idea to check if the Bánh Nậm are done. Wear a pair of oven mitts or use a kitchen towel to carefully remove the lid from the steamer, directing any escaping steam away from you to avoid burns.

The sign of perfectly cooked Bánh Nậm is in the texture of the dough—it should be firm yet tender to the touch, and the color of the dough will turn slightly translucent. If you touch the surface of a packet, the dough should not stick to your fingers.

If they’re not quite there yet, re-cover the steamer and check every 5 minutes until they reach the desired consistency. Once done, turn off the heat and allow the Bánh Nậm to rest for a few minutes. This resting period lets the flavors settle and makes the packets easier to handle.

Carefully remove the Bánh Nậm from the steamer and set them on a serving platter. They’re ready to be unwrapped and enjoyed. Indulging in Bánh Nậm transports you to the heart of central Vietnam, with each bite a testament to the love and care put into its preparation. Enjoy the harmony of texture and flavor that is sure to delight your palate.

Serving Suggestions

After meticulously preparing the Bánh Nậm, steaming them to perfection, and allowing them to rest, we arrive at one of the most delightful phases of the culinary journey—serving them. Bánh Nậm is more than a dish; it’s an exploration of textures and flavors, best enjoyed with certain accompaniments that elevate the experience.


To complement the soft, tender texture and the rich, savory fillings of Bánh Nậm, we recommend serving it with a side of sweet and spicy fish sauce. The sweetness of the sauce cuts through the richness, while the spice adds an exciting kick, balancing the flavors beautifully.

Fresh Herbs

Adding a handful of fresh herbs can transform this dish into a refreshing feast. We suggest garnishing with thinly sliced scallions, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, or even mint leaves. These fresh elements introduce a burst of brightness, enhancing the depth of flavors in each bite.

Pickled Vegetables

For those who enjoy a bit of tang and crunch, pickled vegetables are a fantastic side. Quick-pickled carrots and daikon radish not only add a vibrant pop of color but also a refreshing acidity that complements the softness of the Bánh Nậm. The contrast in textures and the interplay of flavors make every bite interesting.

Enjoy Hot or at Room Temperature

Bánh Nậm is versatile in terms of serving temperature. Enjoying them hot allows you to experience the full aroma and the tenderness of the steamed dough. However, they are equally delicious at room temperature, making them a convenient option for gatherings or meals on the go.

Make-Ahead and Storage

After exploring the rich flavors and delicate preparation of Bánh Nậm, it’s essential to consider how you can make this dish ahead of time and store any leftovers. Bánh Nậm’s convenience and versatility don’t just stop at serving it hot or at room temperature; its storage potential is another aspect that makes it an outstanding dish for meal planning or unexpected guests.

Preparing Bánh Nậm in Advance

For those busy days when you crave the comfort of Bánh Nậm but lack the time for preparation, making this dish in advance is a lifesaver. Here’s how we can efficiently prepare Bánh Nậm beforehand:

  1. Assemble the Bánh Nậm up to 2 Days Ahead: You can fully prepare and steam the Bánh Nậm, then allow them to cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, carefully place them in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  2. Freezing Options: For longer storage, Bánh Nậm freezes exceptionally well. Once cooled, wrap each Bánh Nậm individually in cling film or place them in a single layer in a freezer-safe bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to a month, retaining their quality and taste.

Reheating Instructions

To bring out the best in your make-ahead Bánh Nậm, reheating them properly is key. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Steam: For both refrigerated and frozen Bánh Nậm, steaming is the best reheating method to restore the dish’s texture and warmth. Thaw frozen Bánh Nậm overnight in the refrigerator first. Then, steam for about 5-10 minutes or until they’re thoroughly heated.
  2. Microwave: If time is of the essence, you can also use the microwave. Place the Bánh Nậm on a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel to prevent drying out, and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, checking halfway through.
  1. Refrigerate Promptly: Transfer any uneaten Bánh Nậm to an airtight container and refrigerate. Properly stored, they will last for up


We’ve walked through the delightful journey of making Bánh Nậm, a gem from central Vietnam that’s not just delicious but also incredibly versatile. Whether you’re planning a meal ahead or looking for a delightful treat for your guests, this dish has got you covered. Remember, the beauty of Bánh Nậm lies not just in its taste but also in its convenience. With our tips on preparing, storing, and reheating, you’re all set to enjoy this traditional delight any day of the week. So, roll up your sleeves and let the magic of Bánh Nậm unfold in your kitchen. Happy cooking!

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