Vietnamese Traditional Foods from Sticky Rice
Sticky rice is a sweet, delicious, smelling rice. 100 grams of sticky rice contains 74.9 grams carbohydrate, 8.6 grams protein, 1.5 grams lipid, 14 grams water, 0.6 gram cellulose, 0.8 gram ash, 32 milligrams calcium, 98 milligrams phosphate, 1.2 milligrams iron and some vitamins such as B1, B2, PP. Because of being tasty, nutritious and easy to purchased, sticky rice is used in many recipes from main dishes to desserts in Vietnam. Beside rice, sticky rice has been playing its important role in the national cuisine. Vietnamese cooks have been used sticky rice to cook Steamed sticky rice – a favorite fast food, flavorful Sweet soup, many traditional cakes from sticky rice flour.
1. Steamed sticky rice or Xoi
Steamed sticky rice or Xoi is one of the most favorite fast foods in Vietnam because of great taste, simple recipe and reasonable price. Xoi could be found at any corner of Vietnam from street food shoulder poles, rolling carts moving around the streets to Xoi shops. Customer can buy a portion of Xoi wrapped in banana leaf for about 1 USD. There are many different kinds of Steamed sticky rice but they could be divided into 2 main groups: savory and sweet. In Vietnam, most of Xoi dishes are cooked by steaming sticky rice in a big steamer. Food coloring, spices and toppings are various and depend on preferences, local products.
Coconut milk and sugar usually mixed with sticky rice to cook sweet Xoi, toppings are shredded coconut meat, mix of toasted seasame and salt, sugar, crushed peanuts. Sweet Xoi could be cooked with beans or without beans. The cook can mix mung beans, black-eye peas, peanuts, black beans and red beans with sticky rice to cook various kinds of sweet Xoi such as Xoi with mung beans, Xoi with black-eye peas… Xoi without bean could be colored with natural food colors from Gac (blood orange or red), pandan leaves (green), magenta plant (purple), straw ash (black), flowers of blue pea (blue). For example, sticky rice is soaked in mix of juice of magenta plant’s leaves for 8-10 hours before steaming to add flavor, purple color and special smell to the sweet Xoi. Red sticky rice with Gac is a must food at Tet festival because it symbolizes for luckiness, richness and happiness.
Purple Sweet Xoi cooked from sticky rice and juice of magenta plant’s leaves.
Savory Xoi is basic (plain) steamed sticky rice, topped with Vietnamese pork roll, Lap xuong (Chinese sausage), pork floss, boiled quail egg, fried quail egg, dried baby shrimp, patee, crushed peanuts, deep-fried onion and soy sauce. We call this kind of food Mixed savory steamed sticky rice or Xoi man thap cam. Other kinds of savory steamed sticky rice are topped with shredded boiled chicken, grilled whole chicken drumstick, char siew…
Savory Xoi xeo – a specialty of Hanoi is cooked from sticky rice soaked in mix of water turmeric powder and topped with mung bean paste, chicken fat oil, deep-fried onion and wrapped in lotus leaf to serve.
2. Vietnamese sticky rice in Bamboo or Com lam
Com Lam (Vietnamese sticky rice in bamboo) is a specialty of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands and Northwestern Vietnam. Highlight of this food is that sticky rice in cooked with spring water in bamboo tube. It’s eaten with a mixture of roasted sesame, peanuts and salt or grilled wild boar skewers. Com Lam is not only a delicious food, it’s considered as the proud of ethnic groups. At festivals, they usually perform cooking Com Lam skills to introduce to tourists their special food as well as colorful culture.
3. Sweet soup
Vietnamese people love to eat sweet things so that they have been created hundreds of desserts, including amazing sweet soup recipes. Vietnamese sweet soup is clear or gelatinous, most of them are sweet and cooked from various ingredients such as jelly, beans, coconut, dried fruits, nuts and sticky rice… There are not less than 10 traditional sweet soups from whole sticky rice in Vietnam. Most popular, quick and easy sweet soup recipes are soaking sticky rice and beans (mung beans, black-eye peas, peanuts, black beans and red beans) in water for some hours, then cooking them with sugar until tender and pleasant. The cook can also replace beans with corn, sweet potato, taro… These kinds of sweet soups are usually served hot or cold with creamy, sweet and a little salty sauce from coconut milk. Sweet soup with sticky rice and black-eyed peas plays an important part in Vietnamese culture, it’s served at Worm-killing festival, on first birthday party and many important events.
Glutinous rice dumplings in sweet syrup or Che troi nuoc is a special kinds of Vietnamese sweet soup cooked from sticky rice flour. Similar to Sweet soup with sticky rice and black-eyed peas, Che troi nuoc is cooked and served at many festivals (Tet, Mid-autumn festival…) and on important events (wedding, death anniversary, birthday party) in Vietnam. Che troi nuoc looks like balls in sweet syrup. The balls are made from smaller balls of mung bean paste wrapped in sticky rice flour. The syrup is cooked from sugar, pandan leaves and ginger so that it has special smell and taste. To make the sweet soup tastier and more attractive, toasted seasame seeds and crushed peanuts could be topped with the dish. The cook can add natural food colors to make the balls orange, green or purple at his wish.
4. Cakes from sticky rice
Symbolizing for the Earth, Square sticky rice cake or Banh chung is a must food at Tet festival in Vietnam, especially North Vietnam. It has been said that this cake was created by a prince of 6th Hung King – Lang Lieu to express his love for his father. To make Square sticky rice cake, Vietnamese people use Dong leaves to wrap sticky rice and fillings (mung bean and pork belly) into a square-shaped cakes, then boil these cakes in a big pot for about 10-12 hours. Gathering with family some days before Tet days to cook Banh chung has become the most beautiful memory of each Vietnamese person.
Peeled Square sticky rice cake or Banh chung is usually cut into quarters to serve.
While Banh chung is popular in North Vietnam at Tet, Cylindric sticky rice cake or Banh tet is a must food at Tet in South and Central Vietnam. Banh tet is also cooked for wedding, death anniversary to serve guests and gift to the guests. One of interesting thing is that Cylindric sticky rice cakes always go together in pairs because Vietnamese people think a pair of Banh tet symbolize for wholeness, completion and fullness. This kind of cake is wrapped in banana leaves. Outside layer is made from sticky rice mixed with coconut milk and sugar, some food colors could be added to make the sticky rice layer purple (using juice of magenta plant’s leaves), green (using juice of katuk leaves). In some regions, they prefer mixing beans with sticky rice. Tay Ninh province and Binh Duong province are famous for Banh tet with sticky rice mixed with peanuts. In Mekong Delta, they choose black beans to mix with sticky rice. Fillings are diverse, fillings of sweet Banh tet are banana or mung bean paste. The famous savory Banh tet Tra Cuong – a specialty of Tra Vinh province is filled with mung bean, pork belly, salted egg yolk, mung bean paste…
Banh tet is cut into circles which look like beautiful flowers.
Pyramid sticky rice cake or Banh u – a must cake at Vietnamese worm-killing festival has pyramidal shape and wrapped in banana leaves/Dong leaves/bamboo leaves. Filling of sweet Banh u could be mung bean paste or shredded coconut meat and peanuts. Savory Banh u is filled with pork belly, salted egg yolk, mung bean paste, lotus seed, cashew… In some regions, they soak sticky rice in mix of water and ash so that the crust looks transparent, tastes less greasy and smells great. In Tra Vinh province, they mix sticky rice with juice of katuk leaves to make cake’s crust green and smelling.
Vietnamese Traditional Foods from Sticky Rice – Banh U La Tre
Cake with cudweed or Banh khuc is a famous traditional Vietnamese cake originated in Diem village, Bac Ninh province in North Vietnam. Banh khuc has filling from mung bean paste and pork belly. The filling is wrapped with dough from cudweed’s juice and sticky rice flour, then the cake is covered with sticky rice before steaming for about 45 minutes.
If Square sticky rice cake symbolizes for the Earth, Round sticky rice cake or Banh day is the symbol of the Sky. Banh day was also created by the prince Lang Lieu at the same time he created Banh chung but the recipe is totally different. These 2 cakes are not only cakes but also a part of Vietnamese culture. Not only Sticky rice is steamed until pleasant, then the steamed sticky rice is ground using wooden pestle until well-kneaded, soft and smooth. The dough is mold into circle with a diameter of 7 cm. Vietnamese people call the circle Banh day, they also put a piece of Vietnamese pork roll (Cha lua) or Grilled pork sausage with cinnamon powder (Cha que) between 2 Banh day and call this kind of food Banh day gio or Savory round sticky rice cake.
The traditional Grilled banana wrapped in sticky rice or Banh chuoi nuong could not be missed because this is a famous street food in Vietnam and around the world. Fragrant and flavorful Banh chuoi nuong’s main ingredients are banana and sticky rice. Recipe is simple, sticky rice is steamed, peeled banana is wrapped in steamed sticky rice. Then it is wrapped again in banana leaves and grilled on charcoal until banana leaves turn brown, steamed sticky rice wrapper turns crisp and yellow. This food is served hot, it’s better to eat with sauce from coconut milk.
5. Cakes from sticky rice flour
Most of traditional Vietnamese cakes are made from rice flour and sticky rice flour because the country has produced rice and sticky rice for a long time. Top traditional cakes are Sticky mooncake or Banh trung thu deo, Pyramid sticky rice flour cake or Banh it, Sticky rice flour cake dumplings or Banh it tran.
Beside lanterns and Grilled mooncake, Sticky mooncake or Banh trung thu deo is a must cake at the second biggest festival in Vietnam – Mid-autumn festival. The cake crust is made from caramel, pomelo blossom essencial oil and Cooked sticky rice flour which is made by burning sticky rice in the same way popcorn is made so that the crust is soft, sticky, light sweet and very smelling. Traditional Banh trung thu deo is usually filled with five kernels or mung bean paste/lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk. Vietnamese people have create many sweet and savory Sticky mooncake recipes, they make fillings from red bean paste, black bean paste, chocolate, durian, coconut, young rice, pork floss, roasted chicken…
Similar to Pyramid sticky rice flour cake (Banh u), Pyramid sticky rice flour cake or Banh it is wrapped in banana leaves into pyramidal shape. Fillings are the same as fillings of Banh u. The difference is that Banh it’s crust is made from sticky rice flour.
The traditional Vietnamese sticky rice flour dumplings or Banh it tran is as small as a lime. Its filling is made by mixing mung bean paste with stir-fried ground pork, shrimp, wood ears. The mix of fillings is wrapped in sticky rice flour dough into balls which will be steamed for about 15 minutes. The ready cakes could be topped with ground dried shrimp, chopped green onion and served with sweet and sour fish sauce dip.
Deep-fried sticky rice sesame cake with mung bean paste or Orange cake, Banh cam is a sweet and crispy tiny round-shaped cake. The cook use the sticky rice flour dough to wrap mung bean paste, then deep-fry it until crispy. After that the cake is covered with caramel and toasted sesame.
There are many other cakes made from sticky rice flour such as Banh phu the, Banh in, Banh ran and Banh da lon.
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