Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cake (Banh Beo)
Banh Beo or Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cake is a simple but delicate Vietnamese traditional dish. The cake reminds about a familiar and peaceful scene of green bloating ferns in lakes in Vietnam’s countryside. This cake is as tiny and thin as bloating fern so that Vietnamese people call it Banh Beo – Bloating Fern Shaped Cake.
There are 2 main kinds of savory Banh Beo: Banh Beo Chen or Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cake in Small Bowl that is steamed in small bowl and served in small bowl , Banh Beo Nho or Vietnamese Small Bloating Fern Shaped Cake is steamed in aluminum mold and got out from the mold to serve on a plate. The second is thinner and smaller than the first. Savory Banh Beo has become a specialty food in Central Vietnam as well as the country for its great taste. People in Hue, Quang Binh, Da Nang… cook Banh Beo to serve visitors or relatives on normal days, on death anniversaries, on weddings and at traditional festivals. It’s considered as an important part in local life in Central Vietnam.
Made by steaming ground rice in small bowl or aluminum mold, savory Banh Beo in Hue style is topped with different toppings depends on local preferences. It’s a perfect blends of all ingredients and will make dinners eat more and more. Rice used to make Banh Beo must be high quality and has white color so that the cake is not only flavorful but also good looking. Shrimp used to make toasted dried shrimp must be fresh so that this topping is smelling and tasty. Dipping sauce eaten with Bloating Fern Shaped Cake is made carefully from fish sauce, broth form shrimp, chili (optional) and garlic. Pickled shredded carrot is added into the sauce at dinner’s wish. To eat Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cake in Small Bowl, dinners ladle fish sauce dip on to and use a bamboo stick or a spoon to get it out of the small bowl, then tuck in. To eat Vietnamese Small Bloating Fern Shaped Cake, dinners use chopsticks to dip the cake into the dipping fish sauce and tuck in.
Savory Banh Beo in Hue style is topped with toasted dried shrimp, deep-fried pork fat, chopped green onion oil. In Danang, there are 2 kinds of savory Banh Beo: wet savory Banh Beo topped with deep-fried onion strings and sauce from ground pork, minced wood ear; dry savory Banh Beo topped with deep-fried onion strings and shrimp floss.
Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cakes in Small Bowls in Hue style not only look attractive but also taste great
There are 2 kinds of Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cakes in Small Bowls in Danang: dry one (left cake on photo) and wet on (right cake on photo)
Savory Banh Beo is famous among foreigners and tourists visiting Hue. Although sweet Banh Beo is less known than the savory, I would like to introduce it to anyone would like to know more about Vietnamese traditional foods. Sweet Banh Beo is popular in South Vietnam, especially Mekong Delta. Coconut cream and sugar are added to make the cake greasier and sweeter. Some cook use pandan leaves extract to make Sweet Banh Beo green. Instead of toasted dried shrimp, mung bean paste is topped on the cake. Instead of dipping fish sauce, coconut cream sauce is served with Sweet Banh Beo.
Green Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cakes with pandan leaves extract look like bloating ferns, mung bean paste is topped onto the cake to make it nicer and more flavorful.