There are not less than ten steamed glutinous rice (Xoi) recipes in Vietnam from easy to difficult, from savory to sweet. Five-colored steamed glutinous rice (or Xoi ngu sac) is an authentic dish in Ha Giang – a province in the northeast region of Vietnam. Xoi ngu sac has five colors: white, red, green, purple, and yellow. Each color represents for one of Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The perfect blend of many colors and the sweet smell of Five-colored steamed glutinous rice with smoke attracts most people at local fairs in Ha Giang.
This dish is not only nice-looking and nice-smelling but also amazingly tasty. It is very cheap, healthy, and portable so that it has become a favorite choice of many local people to bring with them and eat at work. In addition, Xoi ngu sac is a must food at festivals and important events. They offer this food to the ancestors and God to show their respects and pray for good soil, good weather, and certainly good harvest.
The cook must work hard to cook 5 kinds of Xoi, each has its own color. Ha Giang people use roots and leaves of plants in forests to make steamed sticky rice colorful. The white is the original color of steamed golden flower sticky rice. The red color comes from Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis), the green color comes from ginger leaves (or pomelo skin, bamboo sprout skin, macaranga denticulata leaves, dry cratoxylum maingayi). Turmeric makes the steamed sticky rice yellow, magenta leaves (or liquidambar formosana) is used to make the purple one. To cook Xoi ngu sac, the best sticky rice is chosen, soaked in water for 6-8 hours, divided into 5 parts. Each part is dyed with one kind of food coloring and steamed until tender, sticky and smelling. The dish is usually served on banana leaves and decorated as a five-petal flower which petals have different colors, or multi-floor tower, or multi-colorful terraced rice fields.
There is no better than eating some warm flavorful Five-colored steamed glutinous rice on a cold morning. Coming Ha Giang, travelers should not miss this dish to not only enjoy a delicious dish of Ha Giang cuisine but also learn more about the rich culture in this province.
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