Today I made my annual batch of banh chung (baan choong), a traditional must-have for the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. I made five of them instead of my usual foursome since I over bought the pork that goes into the cakes. In the above photo, the ancient looking packages are of the foil-wrapped cakes freshly fetched from their 7-hour boiling. Inside, there are bamboo leaves and banana leaves that surround sticky rice, buttery mung beans, and rich pork seasoned by fish sauce, salt and pepper. With only a handful of ingredients, they come together deliciously. (For background information of banh chung and its cylindrical sister banh tet, see this post.)
Even though you can buy banh chung at Vietnamese and Chinese markets, the cakes are at their absolute best when made at home and eaten warm. I got my banh chung recipe from my mother, who got it from a friend, Mr. Lung. In the 1970s, Mr. Lung had written a lengthy article on banh chung and included detailed recipe instructions for the cakes. When Mr. Lung escaped from Vietnam, he brought the article with him and shared it with my mother and other friends so that they can recreate these savory cakes abroad.
Because a number of people have expressed interest in making their own banh chung this year, I decided to post these images on how to wrap banh chung. (They’re also available in a downloadable PDF document too.) These images are a companion to the banh chung recipe in my cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. See the “World of Banh” chapter, pages 261-264. I hope these images encourage and guide you toward successful banh chung making!
How to wrap banh chung with a wooden mold
More on Tet:
- 2010 Tet Food, Festivals and Fun: General information for this year
- The Year of the Tiger: Tiger birth years, traits, and famous tigers/tigresses
- Simple Ways to Celebrate Tet:
Easy, no-sweat things to do for Tet, such as a downloadable Tet couplet
for your door, pointers on how to wish people “Happy New Year” in
Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin, and how to attract good luck for
the New Year (xong dat)
- How to find a Tet Festival: Tips for locating these events, which hare typically advertised only in the Vietnamese community!
- Traditional Tet Flowers and Blossoms:
My father used to cut blooming branches from trees he found in the
neighborhood. You can clip like him, or buy, like me. This post tells
you what to look for.
- Special Foods for Tet Celebrations: What is typically eaten during this holiday? Great for menu planning.
- Banh Chung and Banh Tet: What are they and how do you eat these sticky rice cakes
- Chicken and Bamboo Shoot Noodle Soup Recipe (Bun Mang Ga)
- Banh Chung Tet Sticky Rice Cake Recipe
- Candied Lotus Seeds Recipe