These Vietnamese savoury pastries or “banh pate so” are delicious parcels of flaky puff pastry with a pork mince filling. They are traditionally eaten at breakfast with a cup of coffee but you can honestly enjoy them at any time of the day. They make for a perfect snack for the family or finger food for a party or potluck dinner.
It really has been a crazy few months here in Australia. We have been home-bound for quite sometime due to the bush fires over the Christmas/New Years period and now the pandemic.
I am finding it a little hard not being get out of the house. I miss being able to go fishing and relaxing outdoors. It sucks but if staying at home saves lives then so be it.
Steph on the other hand is embracing the life of a hermit. Being at home 24/7 has brought a joy in her that I have never seen. She literally has not left the house for weeks and there is no sign that will change anytime soon. I think it’s a bit weird but she claims it is her destiny. Hope you guys are all safe and well in these crazy times.
Banh Pate So / Pate Chaud
Most Vietnamese families have there own version of this recipe. Our one differs slightly from the usual since we like to add black fungus (wood ear mushroom) to give much needed texture. We also like to use chicken liver pate rather than the pork variety. This is because the pork version can be really strong and overpowering leaving an unpleasant aftertaste.
Many banh pate so recipes will also call to saute the onions. This will give the filling more aroma and flavour. I also like to add a little bit of fish sauce to round it out. This is completely optional but I believe it makes it taste much better.
The Puff Pastry
Before we move on, I have to admit that I have never made my own puff pastry. I have only ever used store bought puff pastry which to the purists is probably blasphemy. But in my defence, I have some solid reasons why.
- I am very lazy. My mother always said “honesty is the best policy,” so I am being honest.
- I do not know how to make it from scratch. Not a particularly good reason since this a food blog. But I also heard it is very time consuming and hard on the hands.
- There is a store bought version that is very good. Yeah… sold.
The puff pastry brands I like to use for all my pastries is Pampas or Woolworths brand. If you live in the US then Trader Joe’s and Pepperidge Farm are good brands to try. To be completely honest, I have yet had a store bought puff pastry that didn’t work (this includes the cheapest brands). So buy whatever you can afford or get your hands on.
The Lack of “Puff”
It can be really frustrating when your puff pastry is not rising as much as you would like. In my experience, I have found the “puff” is affected by a few things:
- The amount of moisture in the filling. If the moisture was contained inside the filling then it would not be a problem. It is when it escapes as steam or liquid that it seriously affects the “puff.”
Here are some things you can do if you to help your puff pastry rise:
- Saute the onions. Frying the onions before adding it to the filling will remove a lot of the moisture. This will also impart a fried onion aroma to the filling.
- Pat dry or squeeze the blood from the mince. If your mince looks very “bloody” then do this to remove excess moisture.
- Remove the excess water from the black fungus. Do this by wrapping the fungus with a paper towel and then squeeze.
- Cutting a slit at the top of puff pastry. This will allow the steam and moisture to escape through the opening. The downside is that it will leave ugly dark stains on pastry. This is why I don’t do it.
You Don’t Win Friends with Soggy Pastry
The first couple of banh pate so recipes I tried all had issues with the bottom part of the pastry being soggy. It seems that all the moisture from the filling pooled at the bottom where there was nowhere to escape.
So, after many attempts I have found a few things that work for me.
- Bake the pastries on a rack so there is air underneath them. The rack must be a tight rack (small gaps) since the pastries will sag into the gaps if they are too big. See the picture below for what I mean.
- If you don’t have a suitable rack then bake them on a tray. Use baking paper to avoid sticking. After cooking them in the oven, flip them over and check the bottoms. If they are soggy then put them back into the oven upside down until the bottoms are dry and crisp.
- Removing excess moisture from the filling. Look in the above section for tips.
- Avoid putting too much filling into the pastries. This is a hard one. If you put too much then there will be more moisture affecting the puffiness of the pastry. But if you add too little then it is all pastry and no meat which pleases no one.
- Roll the filling in cornstarch before wrapping them in puff pastry. Yep, sounds weird but it works!
- Let them cool on a cooling rack and make sure there is a little distance in between them.
Assembling the Banh Pate So
The first thing you have to decide is what type of shape you want your pastries to be. You are probably thinking at this point… what does it matter what shape it is? Well, it really does make a difference! For me I am all about efficiency – something quick and easy without wasting any pastry. My go to shapes are therefore rectangles and triangles. These are the one piece pastry shapes that are by far the easiest and quickest to make.
Triangles and Rectangles (one piece shapes)
- Cut the puff pastry into squares. (8 cm x 8 cm or 3.15 in x 3.15 in squares works best for me)
- Add 1/2 cup of cornstarch into a small bowl.
- Spoon out some filling (roughly 3/4 of a tbsp) and roll it into the cornstarch. Tap it a few times to remove the excess starch.
- Take out one puff pastry square into your hands and flip it over so that the side exposed to the air is facing your palm.
- Fold the pastry and make sure the corners are aligned.
- Crimp the sides and repeat.
Squares and Circles (2 piece shapes)
The next shapes are the squares and circles which require 2 pieces of puff pastry each. These shapes generally take more time to make, require more filling and also need egg whites to help glue the two pieces of pastry together. You will also need a cutter to make the circle version.
Note: The circle shapes will produce a lot of puff pastry off cuts. Most people will collect it up and flatten it out again with a rolling pin to reuse. This is a bit of a hassle which is why I don’t make this shape. But it is by far the prettiest shape out of the lot if you have the time.
- Cut the puff pastry into squares or circles.
- Add 1/2 cup of cornstarch into a small bowl.
- Spoon out some filling and roll it into the cornstarch. Tap it a few times to remove the excess starch.
- Take out one piece of puff pastry square and flip it over so that the side exposed to the air is facing your work bench.
- Put the filling into the centre and brush egg white around the edges of the pastry.
- Place an identical piece of pastry over the top. Do not flip the pastry this time.
- Gently press down on the pastry so the edges glued together.
- Crimping is optional for the square shapes. Generally, the circle shapes do not require crimping.
Last Minute Tips
- If you want a juicier filling then buy mince with a higher fat content (typically 15% and higher). Any type of mince that is lean will produce a harder more drier meat filling.
- To reheat, put them in the oven at 180 C / 350 F for 5 – 10 minutes. This will crisp up the pastry and warm up the filling.
- Oven Baked Curry Puffs
- Oven Baked Vegan Curry Puffs
- Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pastries
- Pressure Cooker Steak and Guinness Pot Pies
Vietnamese Savoury Pastries – Banh Pate So
- 1 pack puff pastry, approximately 6 sheets of 25 cm x 25 cm or 10 in x 10 in
- 1 – 2 large eggs, with yolks separated from the whites
- 500 gm pork mince
- 4 tbsp chicken liver pate (60gm)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 8 gm black fungus / wood ear mushroom, roughly chopped (optional but highly recommended)
- 1 tsp fish sauce (optional but recommended)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
Soak the black fungus in boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Once done, take out the fungus and wrap it in a paper towel. Squeeze the excess water out and chop.
Prep all your ingredients.
Thaw out your puff pastry in accordance to the package instructions.
Optional Step: Saute the onions with some oil in a fry pan until soft and aromatic. Do not let it burn.
Add all the filling ingredients into a large bowl and combine with your hands.
Take out approximately a teaspoon of filling and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Taste check and adjust to your preferences.
Make the pastries. Please refer to the "Making the Pastries" section for details.
Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F.
Put the pastries on a mesh tray (if you have) or a flat tray lined with baking paper. Please refer to the "Soggy Pastry" section for more details.
Brush the tops with the egg yolks and cook in the oven at 200 C / 400 F for 18 – 20 minutes or until crispy and golden.
After 18 – 20 minutes, take the pastries out of the oven and check the bottoms to see if they are soggy or not. If yes, then flip the pastries over and bake in the oven soggy side up until they are all dry and crispy. If no, then let them rest on a cooling rack.