Vietnamese Clear Tapioca Dumplings
One bite is never enough because they are so deliciously savory and chewy!
Bánh Bột Lọc Tran (Vietnamese Clear Tapioca Dumplings) is the non wrapped version of the Bánh Bột Lọc Lá Chuối. Both are delicious and has its own unique chewy textures. Today, I'm making the non-banana leaf wrapped version as it is quicker to prepare. I don't need to buy banana leaves and prep them which saves me time. Plus wrapping them can be tricky with the stickier dough used for the Bánh Bột Lọc Lá Chuối version. However, both versions of Bánh Bột Lọc can pre-made and frozen for later consumption. Bánh Bột Lọc is my favorite Vietnamese snack! My mom always has these for me to enjoy when I come for a visit. I don't care which version it is as long as I can dip them in the sweet chili fish sauce (nước mắm chấm) and eat to my heart's content!
These clear and chewy dumplings originated from central Vietnam. Served as an appetizer or snack at gatherings. Bánh Bột Lọc Tran is made from a dough of tapioca starch, salt and water. Then filled with a pork and shrimp mixture seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, garlic, shallots, and generally annatto seed oil or powder for its attractive coloring. Today, I am using paprika in place of the annatto seed powder/oil because paprika has a similar smell and coloring. Paprika is also easier to find at the grocery store. The Bánh Bột Lọc Tran is then cooked in boiling water or steamed. Once cooked, it is drizzled with scallion oil and dipped in nước mắm chấm. My preferred cooking method is steaming as steam has a higher cooking temperature. It will penetrate the dough and give you the clearest dumpling. The boiling temperature is not as hot and I find that the dumplings bursts open before the dough is completely cooked.
And I'm not going to lie. There's no easy or quick way to make bánh bột lọc; it's a dish that requires love. I've seen other methods that claim it's the easiest and quickest way to make them; however, those methods still require you to wrap them individually. So technically speaking, you're always going to have to make individual dumplings regardless of which method you use.
I hope you enjoy these delicious bite size tapioca dumplings as much as I do! If you love chewy noodles and foods, this is a perfect dish for you to try!
(1) Dumplings can be frozen up to 6-months. Place on baking sheets with space in between them. Place in freezer until they are rock solid. Then stored in a ziplock bag or container. No thawing needed. Steam frozen.
(2) Dipping sauce is on the tangy-saltier side. Add one additional tablespoon of sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce. Used within one week. Keep in fridge.
(3) Scallion oil can be stored up to one week in the fridge.
(4) The filling is enough for two batches of dough. So be sure to make double the dough recipe if you want to use all the filling. My kids like to eat the filling with rice, so we keep the other half for a different meal.
Dough (Double recipe to make enough for entire quantity of filling.)
14 oz tapioca flour
1 cup boiling hot water
12oz pork chopped
12oz shrimp chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fish sauce
4 cloves mince garlic
1 cup chopped shallots/red onion
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 tsp salt
Sweet Chili Fish Sauce
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar (add one more tablespoon for sweeter sauce)
2 tbsp lime/lemon juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp sriracha
½ crush garlic chili paste or fresh Thai chili
Making the Dipping Sauce & Scallion Oil
Sweet Chili Fish Sauce: I make a saltier dipping sauce versus a sweet one. If you aren't a fan of salty and tart, I suggest adding one addition tablespoon of sugar to sweeten the sauce.
In a medium sauce bowl, add warm water and sugar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Then add the lime juice, fish sauce, minced garlic, and chili of your choice. The jarred crush garlic chili is mild and adds a nice flavor. If you are looking for a kick, used Thai chili slices. The sriracha adds a nice hue to the color of the dipping sauce. That's it. Mix throughly and set aside for later.
Make the scallion oil. Add the chopped scallions to a glass or ceramic bowl. NO PLASTIC BOWLS PLEASE. Then heat up veggie oil until a wooden stick/end of a ladle forms bubbles during the temp check. Heat the oil on medium-low for approximately 5-minutes.
Carefully pour the hot oil on top of the chopped scallions. Add the salt and mixed well. Set aside for later.
Making the Pork & Shrimp Filling
Minced the pork and shrimp. Place in separate bowls to marinate.
Mix the dry seasoning (paprika, sugar, garlic powder, and black pepper) together. Divide into thirds. One part will be added to the shrimp, one part to the pork and one part to the fresh mince garlic and shallots/red onions.
Add one tablespoon fish sauce to the pork and one tablespoon to the shrimp. Add one third of the dry seasoning to the pork and shrimp. Mix well. Reserve one third for the minced garlic and shallot/red onion.
In a large skillet, add oil, shallots and minced garlic. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 dry seasoning. Sauté on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Add pork mixture and cook until they become opaque (roughly 10-minutes). Stir around to allow even cooking. Add shrimp mixture and cook until shrimp are no longer translucent (roughly 5-6 minutes). Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Making the Dough
Divide the tapioca starch into two bowls. Add salt and sugar to one bowl and mix well. Add hot boiling water into the other bowl and mix with a spatula. Allow the cooked dough to cool enough for hand kneading.
Combine the wet dough into the dry tapioca salt mixture. Knead until bowl is clean. Approximately 10-12 minutes.
Divide dough in half. Roll into a log with a 1.5-2 inch diameter. Wrap one log in plastic to prevent drying. Slice the logs into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Cover or store in plastic bag to prevent individual pieces from drying out.
Form Dumplings, Cook & Serve
Roll each piece as you go to prevent drying. Roll dough out to about 3.5-4 inch circles. Add a teaspoon or slightly more of filling and pinch edges to seal the dumplings.
To cook dumplings, heat up a steamer and spray with oil. Add fresh or frozen dumplings. Steam for 10-12 minutes.
Plate cooked dumplings and garnish with the scallion oil. Serve hot with the dipping sauce immediately. (Dumplings can become hard when cold. Best to eat while still warm.)