The number of good food in Vietnam is countless. Yet if asked to pick one that best represents Vietnamese tradition and history, there’s nothing better than Banh Chung. This Vietnamese square sticky rice cake is a Lunar New Year phenomenon. Wondering why? Take a closer read at our article below to have a better in-depth look at this interesting cuisine!
What is Banh Chung?
Banh Chung has been a long-standing food in Vietnam during the Tet Holiday. Banh Chung appears to be a chubby brick-sized cube. This square sticky rice cake is filled with a hearty amount of mung beans and fatty pork, which is wrapped inside layers of tropical leaves. Such gastronomy enhances the delicate aroma when served. Banh Chung is an iconic Northern Vietnamese cuisine and mostly seen during the Lunar New Year, while the Southern Vietnamese edition resembles a little neck pillow. Rather than just a festive food, Banh Chung beholds a great meaning behind along with an interesting 3-Millenium legend.
Banh Chung and Its History of a Respected Food in Vietnam
Dating back to 3000 years ago, a Spring contest was held in the Vietnamese royal tribe to select the new king for the region. Prince Lang Liu was the one to come up with the idea of bringing the harmony of the Earth and the Sky in his creative culinary. Accordingly, two sticky rice cakes were invented. One is square and one is round following the ancient Vietnamese perspective of the Earth and the sky respectively.
Thanks to such meaningful creation, Lang Liu was hence endorsed to be the next King of the country. The Vietnamese have started making Banh Chung ever since to pay homage to the event every Lunar New Year.
Meaning of the Vietnamese Banh Chung in the Tet Holiday
Nowadays, Banh Chung is seen as an indispensable food in Vietnam during the Tet Holiday. This is a brilliant way to preserve the role of family reunion and compliment the wet rice civilization in the life of the Vietnamese. Making Banh Chung has become an interesting way to celebrate Lunar New Year. It requires the joint effort and time of everyone in the family, which enhances the relationship amongst all members. Banh Chung is always represented by the side of a five-fruit-tray, which makes a perfect pair of a typical Vietnamese Tet decoration.
How to Make the Vietnamese Banh Chung?
The making procedure of Banh Chung is time-consuming but worth the wait. The main ingredients consist of glutinous rice, pork belly, and mung beans. One other significant part is the appearance of the tropical green leaves to contribute to the irresistible fragrance of the cake.
The sticky rice is the most vital part of the food, which means selecting the right sort of rice for the making of Banh Chung is crucial. It is then soaked in water the day before and stuffed with pork and mung beans during the next day. Wrapping Banh Chung demands cleverness and patience. The whole cake is then boiled for the next 12 hours in a large put atop the wooden fire. Banh Chung can be stored in a long time with the hearty and buttery flavor remaining the same.
Different Ways to Eat the Vietnamese Banh Chung
Fresh Cold Cuts
There exist many variations of the Vietnamese Banh Chung, such as the humped Banh Chung created by the San Diu ethnic people or vegan Banh Chung. These editions can be found across different regions within Vietnam. The most common way to eat Banh Chung is to boil and cut it into smaller pieces using a fine kitchen string or a sharp knife. The Vietnamese prefer cutting it into four or eight depending on the number of people. This way allows you to enjoy the pure fragrance and the flossy taste of this food in Vietnam.
A cooler way to consume Banh Chung is to scatter some pinches of fine sugar on the surface of the cake. This amazing way brings out a nice contrast with the greasiness of the feeling and harmonizes with the sweetness of the sticky rice.
Some professional diners prefer having Banh Chung along with some Vietnamese charcuterie, which is usually pork pie. If you like it this way, don’t forget to pair it with a small plate of pickled veggies!
Crunchy Frying Cuts
Many families have a habit of frying Banh Chung on a pan. This is a fun way to enjoy the traditional food in Vietnam. Banh Chung will be a lot more aromatic on the inside and crispy on the outside. If you’re traveling to Northern Vietnam with your kids, chances are they love this edition of Banh Chung even more!
If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy this iconic festive food in Vietnam, make sure you will include it on your next trip to the North of the country. And for those attempting to make Banh Chung on their own, get in touch with a local guide and he’s going to show you the best place to make Banh Chung like a real Vietnamese!