Monday, March 10, 2008

Banh Chung From Hanoi

When Starr sms from Hanoi to wish us a happy Chinese new year, I sms back to wish her the same. I jokingly (was I?) asked for a banh chung, Vietnamese sticky rice cake that is a must during the Vietnamese new year.
I have heard so much about the banh chung and most recently the 'Flavours' magazine did a feature on it in its new year's issue. I was so ready to try this famous traditional feast.

So you can imagine my surprise as I came face to face with this dark green parcel in the fridge when I returned home from the recent trip to China.
Starr did a special delivery. Thank you so much, Starr.
It also come with a very detail description as to how to prepare and serve the bundle.

After steaming it for 2 hours...and unwrapping the numerous (about 5 layers!) of dong or banana leaves.

Must not throw away the bamboo strings used to tie the chung, she reminded. These are essential to cut through the thick and sticky goodness. A knife would ruin the chung as it would be glued by the stickiness.

Placed the bamboo strings on top of the chung.

Turn the chung onto a plate with the bamboo strings now on the underside.

Lift the strings and cut across the chung.

This was suppose to be served with some pickles but I just wanted to taste the original. The texture was unbelievably smooth (Vietnam's glutinous rice is so different from ours). A very delicate taste with the mung beans and pork blending harmoniously. The seasoning done very lightly with salt and a hint of pepper.

This banh chung was prepared by Starr's grandmother who lives in Hanoi. She prepares this delicacy every year for the Vietnamese new year, Tet, which falls around the same time as our Chinese new year. The whole family would rallied around to help with this activity. It is served in every household during the festive season.



daisyfused said...

i want banh chung too!

Starr said...

You guys are very welcome. I hope one day you guys can come to my city around new year time and we can all make banh chung together.

p/s: Heather: next time I come to kl i will bring you one k, or you come visit me in my city :p

wmw said...

Wow! I might not have the patience to cut it up that way. How about eating it holy communion style? Everyone just digs in! hahaha....

JOjo said...

Wuaaaa....I've seen this before!MY friend from vietnam did mention it, they wil have it during CNY or some occassion???
Looks like the Hainanese Bak Chung, the pillow type,hehe =)

a feast, everyday said...

df, I want...

Starr, tq so much. So, did i do it correctly?

wmw, it wasn't as difficult as it sound...

jojo, yeah very much like our chung except for the mung beans and the silky smooth texture of the viet rice.

frank said...

My mom is now retired and she works with this church ministry that help Vietnamese young men who work in Malaysia.

They gave her one of these the other day, on Tet.

They told her that it could be kept in the open for up to 5 days, which my mom advised them against, saying that in our weather, it would turn bad.

Needless to say, they didn't listen, so about 60 of these had to be disposed of. What a pity.

They forgot that the weather in Vietnam this time of the year is very cool compared to ours here.

Oh well...

a feast, everyday said...

Oh, so wasted. Our one n only was so precious, each person only get a small piece.

starr said...

yeah u cut it perfectly right...i cant even cut it as nice as u did :)