Pop glutinous rice cake (Bánh cốm sữa or Bánh cốm hộc in Vietnamese) is a specialty cake of Phan Thiet province. The cake is made from pop glutinous rice which is called No in Vietnamese, sugar, ginger, and pineapple. It tastes light sweet, a little hot, crispy but tender. Its great smell comes from the high-quality glutinous rice and ginger. The Pop glutinous rice cake in Phan Thiet is the essence of city cuisine. It is not only a favorite snack but also an offering to the ancestors. Going to local markets, mothers, grandmothers, sisters in Phan Thiet do not forget to buy some Pop glutinous rice cakes for the children in their families. It is also a familiar food at Tet festival in the province.
No is glutinous rice which expands and puffs up when heated. In Phan Thiet, they make No from Phung glutinous rice or Huong glutinous rice which is sticky and fragrant. The glutinous rice seeds should be dew-wetted before heating. To make No, they put the seeds into a very big pan on a big oven. The pan is covered with a big lid with a hole. A tool which looks like a long broom is used to stir the seeds continuously while cooking through the hole in the lid. The seeds are cooked until they are peeled, expand and puff up. They put expanded seeds into big flat baskets, remove the husks.
There are two kinds of sugars which can be used to make the cake: white granulated sugar and jaggery – traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar. Phan Thiet people prefer jaggery to white granulated sugar. Pop glutinous rice cake made from jaggery is more delicious. Jaggery is a concentrated product of cane juice without separation of the molasses and crystals. Vietnamese people call jaggery Duong tan, it is usually used to cook a wide range of dishes in Central Vietnam including Phan Thiet province.
To make Pop glutinous rice cake, cook jaggery with water, some lime juice until thickened. Add chopped ginger and pineapple. Then stir the liquid continuously until bubbles which are small as sand appear. Leave the liquid for a few hours before mixing with pop glutinous rice. The ratio of sugar to pop glutinous rice is 14:10. The mixture of No and the sweet liquid is formed into rectangular prism or cylinder shape. The mold should be soaked in water for a half day, washed carefully before using. They usually mold the cakes at night and dry the cakes under the sun on the next days to make sure the cake has the best taste and smell. When being dried, the cakes are put on big flat baskets and covered with cloths to protect them from insects and dust. After drying, pop glutinous rice cakes are wrapped in colorful plastic paper and decorated with paper flowers. This kind of traditional cake can be stored for 1-3 months.
If you have a chance to visit Phan Thiet, do not miss tasting some delicious Bánh cốm sữa and buy some to bring home as a great gift to your family and friends.
Read more about What to eat in Phan Thiet?
The oven which is used to make Pop glutinous rice
This is how they mold a cake.
The Pop glutinous rice cake in Phan Thiet has a rectangular prism shape after molding.
A Pop glutinous rice cake in Phan Thiet looks mouth-watering. It can make you eat more and more.