Pyramid glutinous rice cake (Banh u)

Pyramid glutinous rice cake or Banh u is one of the most delicious traditional Vietnamese cakes. It’s a must food at Vietnamese worm-killing festival. Banh u is also favorite food at Vietnamese weddings and death anniversaries. There are many Pyramid glutinous rice cake recipes which depend on local preferences and products. However, all Pyramid glutinous rice cakes are wrapped in leaves (banana leaves, Dong leaves or bamboo leaves) into pyramid shape. The crust is made from glutinous rice. The fillings are made from beans, meat and other ingredients. After being wrapped, the cakes are boiled in big pot for about 1-3 hours, washed with water at room temperature and hung until dry. Banh u could be saved for a few days, even a few weeks.

Wrapped in leaves, Banh u has pyramid shape

Peeled Pyramid glutinous rice cake looks great

The leaves used to wrapped must be chosen carefully, Dong leaves should be boiled until tender, banana leaves should be dried on charcoal until tender. In some regions, they soaked glutinous rice in ash water for one night before wrapping cakes. It could be ash of straw or ash of cycad, silk-cotton tree, little hogweed and spiny pigweed. After being soaked in ash water, the rice turns yellow and after being cooked. Banh u’s crust made from soaked-in-ash-water glutinous rice is transparent, bright yellow, less greasy and tastier than the crust made from glutinous rice with soaking in ash water. We call this kind of Banh u “Banh u nuoc tro”. In Da Loc (Tra Vinh province), they use juice of katuk leaves to make the crust light green, more smelling and tastier.

There are two main kinds of Banh u: savory and sweet. Savory Pyramid glutinous rice cake is filled with pork, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and shiitake. People in Tra Vinh and Chinese people in Saigon prefer eating savory Banh u filled filled with pork, mung bean and duck egg yolk. Other favorite is Banh u with mixed fillings from quail egg, wood ear, cashew, lotus seed, pork, duck egg yolk… In Central Vietnam, especially Hoi An, Quang Nam, Danang, Hue, they make sweet Banh u without filling to eat with honey. In South Vietnam, they have sweet Pyramid glutinous rice cake filled with mung bean paste, peanut, red bean paste, shredded coconut meat, banana.

Sweet Banh u filled with shredded coconut meat, mung bean paste and peanuts


Banh u nuoc tro with bamboo leaf wrapper, transparent yellow glutinous rice crust and mung bean paste filling

Banh u nuoc tro with bamboo leaf wrapper, transparent yellow glutinous rice crust and red bean paste filling

Pyramid glutinous rice cake is usually sold by bunch

Followings are some kinds of Banh u which are specialty foods of some regions in Vietnam:

Banh u with katuk – a specialty of Tra Vinh province (South Vietnam):

  • To make crust, they mix juice of katuk leaves with glutinous rice to make crust green, sticky rice isn’t soaked in ash water;
  • Fillings are pork, mung bean and duck egg yolk;
  • Wrapper is banana leaves.

Banh u Hoi An – a specialty of Hoi An – the famous ancient town (Central Vietnam) – a favorite in Danang, Quang Nam, Hue and other central provinces:

  • To make crust, glutinous rice is soaked in ash water, they must use ash of cycad and fresh and clean water from Ba Le well;
  • No filling;
  • Wrapper is tiger grass in forests in Hai Van pass;
  • Dipped in honey while eating.

Banh u nuoc tro dau xanh – a specialty of Mekong Delta:

  • To make crust, glutinous rice is soaked in ash water, they use ash of straw;
  • Filling is mung bean paste;
  • Wrapper is banana leaves;

Banh u Ba Trang – a specialty of Saigon China Town:

  • Crust made from glutinous rice and peanuts which are soaked in mix water, Chinese herbs and medicine;
  • Fillings are pork or duck meat, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, mushroom, lotus seeds and duck egg yolk;
  • Wrapper is bamboo leaves or Dong leaves;

You might like this:

Pyramid Shaped Glutinous Rice Cake (Banh It)

Vietnamese Traditional Foods from Sticky Rice

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