Friday, June 22, 2012

Rice cracker (bánh tráng)

Rice paper is different from rice cracker!
Rice paper is those we use to wrap & roll our famous deep fried or fresh spring roll! But rice cracker is a kind of snack, made from rice and other ingredients, we grill it on fire and eat as chips! Sometime we fry, very tasty but too oily!

          Grilling rice paper in the countryside shop for tourist!  

Rice cracker is fragile and very crispy, crunchy!
I love the sound when we break, bite and chewy!
I've been to Japan several times. I love their rice crackers. But these days it seems that young Japanese don't love rice crackers! It's mostly for the olds! Tradition is fading away!

              Ready for sale! 
It could be the same destiny with our bánh tráng nướng (grilled rice cracker)! Nowadays kids never ask parents to buy bánh tráng. They prefer potato chips, popcorn or ice-cream! To them - rice cracker is no longer their favorite snack!

             Rice cracker with black sesame from Mekong Delta!

In the south we call rice cracker "bánh tráng", in the north - "bánh đa".
I understand why "tráng" - as it describes the way of making of this snack! But "đa" I may leave it to my friends in Hà nội, as they are always proud of the correctness of Northern words!  

            Glutinous rice cracker, slightly sweet! 

Rice cracker's made from rice, indeed, sesame, coconut...depends on the quality of rice, sesame, or added ingredients, we have different quality cracker! Thick, thin, crispy, tasty, spicy, sweet, fruit taste, small, big...
And the way we eat rice cracker is also quite unique!

In Quảng ngãi, my mother's home town, we have rice cracker filled with sweet maltose (kẹo mạch nha). By the way my grand mother's family used to run the sweet maltoza business with famous brand "Thiên Thai" but it has gone long long time ago!
In Saigon we can add coconut shreds on cracker with sweet maltose! Simple but good snack!
Sweet, chewy due to maltoza, crispy, tasty due to cracker, coconut! Not many but quite some number of street vendors selling this snack.

                  Rice cracker with banana !

               Banana cracker, not very crispy but chewy and full flavor of banana!  

In Huế style restaurant, for certain dishes, esp. traditional mixed salad, they serve with rice cracker. We use rice cracker as spoon, take some salad on it, and enjoy together!
Even for dessert, we have sweet dessert soup with millet seed (chè kê), it's thick, so instead of spoon, is served with few pieces of sesame rice cracker, we have the cracker together with sweet dessert! Very good!

My mother from Quảng Ngãi, she moved to Sài gòn in early 50s. I was born in Sài gòn,  but by some how I got a very "central" eating habit - I love to add some rice cracker to soup dishes!
I love the taste when rice cracker is semi-wet, semi-crispy!

         Mì quảng - traditional noodles from Central always served with some rice cracker! 

In Sài gòn we see rice cracker vendors everywhere on the streets, they are selling 2-3 different kinds of rice crackers...They walk around, they sit on the sidewalk to grill crackers...
Traditional snack. How long they survive in the hard competition with other western snacks ? If people still love it, they may survive forever and together with the novelty from the West! The vendor in below is selling rice cracker together with popcorn!

But to survive they may need to rejuvenate themselves, so we have a new invention - bánh tráng freshly grilled and filled with some pork meat, dried shrimp and green onion - a new popular street snack that nowadays won the heart of many children after the school hours!

I wish to make rice cracker more diversified - same as those Japanese traditional crackers that I tried in the past - and some day it will become another national symbol of street snack! Another big dream!

Please check a video about this new invention with rice cracker! Chicken egg, green onion and chili sauce! Looks amazing and drooling! 

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