Cylindrical glutinous rice cake (Banh tet) which is made from glutinous rice, coconut milk, mung bean, pork, etc. is a popular Vietnamese traditional food in South Vietnam. There are various Banh tet recipes in different provinces. Some famous recipes are Cylindrical glutinous rice cake with magenta leaves – a specialty of Can Tho, Tra Cuon glutinous rice cake, Glutinous rice cake with peanut in Tay Ninh. Cylindrical young glutinous rice cake (Banh tet com dep) is one of the Specialty foods of Tra Vinh province in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam.
Cylindrical young glutinous rice cake is the result of the blend of Khmer, Kinh, and Chinese cuisines in Tra Vinh. It is a must food at festivals of Khmer people in the province. It has become the pride of local people for many years. It is a special gift to buy on a trip to Tra Vinh.
One of the differences of Banh tet com dep in Tra Vinh from the others is that it is not made from glutinous rice but young glutinous rice – a traditional ingredient of Khmer people. The crust made from young glutinous rice is outstandingly sticky and smelling. The second thing that makes Banh tet com dep in Tra Vinh special is that it is steamed until well-done while other kinds of Banh tet is cooked in water. Steaming the cake makes sure it is not too tender and wet. The cake is wrapped in banana leaves, it has a cylinder shape so that it is called cylindrical cake. In comparison to other kinds of Banh tet, Banh tet com dep is smaller.
It needs high-quality ingredients, the experience and patience of the cook to make a delicious Cylindrical young glutinous rice cake. The best Banh tet com dep is made in Cau Ke district of Tra Vinh province. In the harvesting season, Cau Ke people harvest glutinous rice two weeks earlier. The rice is toasted in a pan over low heat with big bamboo chopsticks until well-done. Toasted glutinous rice is pounded until the husks are separated from the seeds. Use a flat basket to filter, remove the husks, the remaining is called “Com dep” (Young glutinous rice) – a specialty of Khmer people which appeared over 100 years ago. Com dep is mixed with coconut milk, coconut water to make the crust of the Banh tet com dep. Coconut milk makes the crust greasy, coconut water makes the crust lightly sweet. The filling of Banh tet com dep is made from peeled mung bean, sugar, and vanilla. Peeled mung bean is cooked until tender, stir-fried with sugar and vanilla, form into cylindrical chunks.
Soak banana leaves in coconut milk so that the cake does not stick to the leaves and the cake is greasier. Put a layer of Young glutinous rice onto the leaves, then put a chunk of filling onto the rice, elegantly wrap into a cylinder, use banana ropes to tie the cake. The wrap must be not too tie, not too loose. After wrapping, steamed the cakes for about a half of hour. In comparison to the boiling method, steaming helps to keep the original shape of the cake.
The cake is a perfect choice for breakfast or served as a dessert after main dishes at meals. The cake is not too big, not too small, portable. It can be stored for a few days at room temperature or a few weeks in freezers. So that it is a favorite gift to bring home from Tra Vinh.