Bánh rò (Banh ro, Pyramidal glutinous rice cake in English) is a traditional cake in Central Vietnam. Banh ro is a specialty food of Quang region (Quang Nam province and Quang Ngai). The cake is a must food on important occasions (death anniversary, Tet festival, etc.) in Central Vietnam. Banh ro could be considered as the simple or pyramidal version of the famous Banh chung (Square glutinous rice cake in English).
Banh ro is made from glutinous rice, mung bean, banana leaf. To make delicious Pyramidal glutinous rice cake, choose new-harvest glutinous rice which is washed for a few time, soaked in water for about 10 hours, drained off, mixed with salt, peanut oil to make the cake more smelling and tastier. Peanut oil is very popular in Central Vietnam thanks to its pleasing peanut flavor, smell and ability to strengthen the immune system, boost cognitive function, improve the nervous system, protect the skin.
The filling is made from mung bean. Choose whole mung beans which are firm and untreated. The mung bean is soaked in water until tender, peeled off, washed carefully, cook until well-done, mashed into a smooth paste which is mixed with spices such as salt, garlic, onion, black pepper.
Banana leaf is dried under the sun and cleaned. Use 2-3 banana leaf sheet to wrap the glutinous rice and the filling into a pyramid. The pyramidal cake reminds of a Cham tower. The cake is tied with bamboo strings not too tightly but not too loosely. If it is tied too tightly, the cake will be rare. Otherwise, it will be moist and too tender. The cakes are tied in pairs, then cooked in water like cooking Banh chung. Pyramidal glutinous rice cake is ready after 6 hours.
Unwrapping the cake, the shining oily light green glutinous rice crust is revealed. The green color comes from the banana leaves. When cutting the cake, you can see the smooth yellow mung bean paste inside. The sticky, a little salty, greasy crusts mixes perfectly with the buttery, salty filling. The pleasing smell of new-harvest glutinous rice, banana leaf and mung bean attract people so much.
In South Vietnam, there are some versions of Pyramidal glutinous rice cake which is called Bánh ú (Banh u). They add coconut milk to the crust to make it greasier. They also soak glutinous rice in ash water to make the crust more translucent. The filling of savory Banh u is made from various combinations of mung bean, pork belly, dried shrimp, salted duck egg yolk, etc. The filling of sweet Banh u is made from coconut meat, mung bean, peanut. In comparison to this kind of cake in South Vietnam, Banh ro in Central Vietnam is simpler, easier to cook and made from fewer ingredients. However, the simple is sometimes great and it is right in this case. The simple Banh has a great taste and satisfy most of the people.
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Pyramidal glutinous rice cake (Bánh rò)