Banh tet – Vietnamese traditional cake

Bánh tét or Banh tet refers to a Vietnamese traditional cake with sticky rice crust and a cylindrical shape. The crust may contain beans or peas, natural food colorings, fillings are diverse and are made from banana, mung bean, pork fat, salted duck egg yolk, wood ears, etc.

Ingredients for Banh tet

Ingredients for the crust: include sticky rice (a must), beans, food colorings such as magenta plant leaves’ extract, pandan leaves’ extract, coconut (or coconut milk), banana leaves.

Ingredients for the fillings: bananas (usually apple bananas), pork fat, mung bean, salted duck egg yolk, wood ears, carrots, etc.

Sticky rice - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Sticky rice.

Dried coconut - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Dried coconut.

Banana trees with green leaves.

Banana trees with green leaves.

How to make?

1. Wash sticky rice for several changes of water, drain the rice using a basket or a strainer.

2. Peel dried coconut fruits, shred the meat. Pour boiling water over the shredded coconut meat, then extract coconut milk from the shredded coconut meat. In recent, many chefs use canned coconut milk in order to save time. Certainly, fresh coconut milk is always better.

Use a special tool to shred coconut meat - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Use a special tool to shred coconut meat from the shell.

Mix coconut meat with boiling water - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

The chef skillfully mix coconut meat with boiling water.

extract coconut milk from the shredded coconut meat - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Then extract coconut milk from the shredded coconut meat.

3. Cook coconut milk in a big pan, when it boils, add dried sticky rice to the pan. Stir the mix continuously until the sticky rice turns sticky but not too mushy and the coconut milk is dried up.

Boiling coconut milk - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Boiling coconut milk.

 sticky rice is cooked until the coconut milk is dried up - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

The sticky rice is cooked until the coconut milk is dried up.

4. Cut pork fat (with skin and a little lean pork) into long pieces, marinate them with green onion, salt and a little sugar (optional).

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

5. Peel mung beans, cook them with water, a little sugar, salt, coconut milk and stir well until receiving a smooth mung bean paste.

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6. Spread mung bean paste on a plastic sheet and form it to a thin rectangle. Place the pork fat onto the mung bean. Wrap the mung bean around pork fat so that it has a cylindrical shape.

Place pork fat on mung bean paste sheet - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Place pork fat on mung bean paste sheet.

Cylindrical mung bean fillings - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Cylindrical mung bean fillings are done now. They are definitely greasy and buttery.

7. Vietnamese people usually make Banh tet with various fillings at the same time. After wrapping the savory filling with mung beans and pork fat, they usually prepare another filling. Banana is one of the most favorite ingredients for making the sweet filling.

It is easier to prepare banana filling, just peel the banana and mix them with sugar and a little salt.

Peeled bananas mixed with sugar - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Peeled bananas mixed with sugar.

9. Cut banana leaves from trees, dry them under the sun for a few hours so that they are stickier, clean them using wet clothes.

8. Spread some layers of banana leaves with a layer of the cooked sticky rice with coconut milk. Then place the cylindrical mung bean and pork fat fillings on the sticky rice. Wrap banana leaves around the sticky rice and fillings skillfully. Use strings made of dried banana leafstalks to tighten the cake.

Place one filling on sticky rice - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Place one filling on sticky rice.

Wrap banana leaves around sticky rice and filling - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Wrap banana leaves around sticky rice and filling.

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Tighten the uncooked cake with dried banana leafstalks strings.

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

They sometimes use other natural strings or even plastic strings. These are uncooked Banh tet.

10. Wrap the Banh tet with the banana filling in the same way.

11. Cook the cakes in a big pot for over 6 hours. The water should cover the cakes. It is better to cover the pot with banana leaves. Or they can use a lid to cover the pot.

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Covering the pot of Banh tet with banana leaves make the cakes more smelling.

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Remove the foam from the water for several times.

Cook until the sticky rice and fillings are tender completely - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Cook until the sticky rice and fillings are tender completely.

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11. Hang cooked Banh tet to make sure they are dry. Then put them on baskets. They can be stored for about 3 days.

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Cooked Banh tet with brown-green wraps.

How to serve Banh tet?

In order to serve Banh tet, just use a sharp knife to cut it into circles. They can unwrap the banana leaf wrap before arranging the circles onto a plate. The crust must be sticky, the filling should be in the center and has the smell of banana leaves.

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

Banh tet filled with banana looks like a beautiful flower with pink nectar. Amazingly, this flower is sweet and edible 🙂

 - Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

The Banh tet filled with mung beans and pork fat is a perfect mix of the sticky crust, buttery and

Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

A plate of Banh tet.

Banh tet in Vietnamese culture

Banh tet is not only a food, a cake but also a must at important celebrations, anniversaries and festivals in Vietnam, especially South Vietnam. It is a must food at Tet festival and on death anniversaries in Southern provinces.

Similar to Banh chung (Square sticky rice) which is popular in North Vietnam, Banh tet is the symbol of reunion in the South. There are many steps to make Banh tet, from cutting banana leaves to harvesting coconut fruits, from wrapping cakes to cooking them for hours. Members of families usually gather, prepare ingredients for these cakes, sit together, talk to each other, laughing while forming the filling, wrapping the cakes in banana leaves, tightening them with strings. They stay up late, keep talking or play some traditional games and wait until the cakes are well-done.

A three-generation family makes Banh tet at Tet festival - Vietnamese traditional cake - How to make?

A three-generation family makes Banh tet at Tet festival.

2 Comments

  1. Zelda Ella March 25, 2020
    • Tracy Do April 1, 2020

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