Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bánh đúc never has bones...

I never forget this savory cake, its simple taste, its soft and smooth texture.
Yes, it could be one of my favorite snacks in my childhood but more than that, this traditional cake is probably one of not many dishes that has been compared in our folklore as a cruel observation and painful experience in life:
                         "Mấy đời bánh đúc có xương, 
                           Mấy đời dì ghẻ lại thưong con chồng" 
literally means
                          Bánh đúc never has bones 
                          (as) Stepmother never cares husband's children

          Bánh đúc (steamed rice cake) in a southern style, topped with shrimp floss, stirred green onion 

             served with sweet spicy fish sauce. Bánh đúc's texture is so soft, smooth as velvet! 

I can't tell how much true in this proverb but it sounds quite a firm confirmation when it has been compared in that way...because a good bánh đúc is nicely soft and smooth!
Made from rice flour mixed with coconut milk, steamed, bánh đúc is just a little bit salted, very tasty with coconut flavor, and some tapioca starch has been added to make the cake's texture more glutinous!

               Bánh đúc can be topped with fried shallots or some other stuff but not veggies! 

Bánh đúc in South is topped with stirred fried ground shrimp, ground jicama or carrot, green onion...then cut into small slices upon the order and served with sweet, spicy fish sauce, pickled carrot and white radish! Bánh đúc is never served with any fresh veggies!

              Bánh đúc texture is always so soft, so smooth that's why people say...never have bones!

Bánh đúc in North is topped with some other ingredients such as ground pork, ear wood mushroom, sesame, roast peanut, fried shallot...

I like bánh đúc texture, it's soft, bit glutinous, especially the coconut milk makes bánh đúc very tasty, I never tried bánh đúc in Hà Nội with soy sauce! Being a southern-born,  I prefer sweet, spicy fish sauce. I also didn't have a chance to taste bánh đúc made from other seems that in each province we have different recipe for this traditional countryside savory steamed cake.

The way of eating is also different. In Hà Nội we have bánh đúc with peanut (bánh đúc lạc) with just soy sauce, no any toppings or with braised fish (cá kho) or braised pork meat (thịt kho), bánh đúc in Hà Nội is probably a bit harder not soft and smooth as in South, the shape is similar to a small bowl.

We also have a sweet bánh đúc, flavory of pandan leave, in green marble color, topped with golden sirup, coconut milk, be honest this sweet bánh đúc could be one of the best sweets in Vietnam, if we know how to make it superfine! The taste, the color, the flavor and probably the tradition - everything combined in this fabulous sweet!

These days it's not easy to find bánh đúc on the street, compared with some other traditional dishes like bánh cuốn (roll rice cake) or bánh ướt (wet cake). I don't know why...such a good and tasty snack for the afternoon light meal!

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