Archive for the 'Banh Tet / Banh Chung' Category

Tết 2015: Not Your Grandma’s Bánh Chưng (Sous Vide Edition)

Tet 2015 - Banh Chung Making Party

For the third year running, Chef Diep Tran spearheaded a bánh chưng making get-together in preparation for the Lunar New Year. What began as a cultural and culinary experiment of sorts, has become a beloved tradition that I eagerly anticipate each year.

Tet 2015 - Banh Chung Making Party

Since our initial foray into bánh chưng making, Diep has continued to refine our ingredients and techniques. One element that has remained unchanged over time is the size and shape of the bánh chưng. The smaller parcels make for shorter cook times (and unparalleled adorableness).  

Tet 2015 - Banh Chung Making Party

This year, Diep made two types of pork filling—smoked belly using Red Boat fish sauce and cured bacon using Red Boat fish sauce salt.

Continue reading ‘Tết 2015: Not Your Grandma’s Bánh Chưng (Sous Vide Edition)’

Bánh Tét Chuối

A few weeks back, Vernon’s Vietnamese teacher Hanh hooked us up with a couple of Bánh Tét Chuối because she’s super-sweet and knows how much we love trying new foods. Even though it was meant for the both of us, I was the sole benefactor of the gift because The Astronomer doesn’t do bananas, something about the texture and taste rubbing him in all sorts of wrong ways. He doesn’t know what he’s missing out on.

Whereas regular Bánh Tét are filled with savory mung beans, pork and pork fat, these not so distant cousins contain finger bananas. No extra sugar is added, so the singular caramelized banana brings the bulk of the flavor. The most interesting aspect of Bánh Tét Chuối is how the steaming process turns the banana a deep magenta. I’m no chemist, but I’d say that’s a result of a chemical reaction!

Vendors selling Bánh Tét Chuối usually ride around town on bikes with the goods hanging from their handlebars. Expect to pay 2,000 – 4,000 VND for one, depending on the size.

The Art of Eating Bánh Tét

I was instructed by my aunt and great aunt to hang the Bánh Tét until I was ready to eat it to avoid spoilage.
We ate the bánh tét with dua mon (vegetables pickled in nuoc mam and sugar). Fresh bánh tét is like no other—subtle and satisfying. The silky pork fat melted on our tongues.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

The Art of Making Bánh Tét

The Astronomer and I woke up super-duper early this morning to witness a very special tradition—the making of Bánh Tét. With the Lunar New Year days away, my grandma’s sister (Ba Sau) and her two daughters-in-law gathered for their annual ritual of making this holiday specialty.

Bánh tét are cylindrical sticky rice cakes filled with pork fat and mung bean paste seasoned with black pepper and shallots. The cakes are wrapped in banana leaves and as a result, the sticky rice takes on a pale green color and a slightly leafy taste. Even though bánh tét are available all year, it is still considered a New Year’s treat.

Back at home in America, no one in my family goes through the trouble of making bánh tét by hand. Seeing one of my favorite foods executed firsthand definitely gave me a greater appreciation for it.

The cake filling of pork fat and mung beans were made a day earlier and left in the fridge to stiffen. The filling was then covered with uncooked sticky rice atop banana leaves.

Ba Sau wrapping the filling and sticky rice grains in banana leaves.


Ba Sau tying the green package with some sort of natural twine. Maybe grass?


Ba Sau adding some extra sticky rice grains to the ends of the cake.

The bánh tét crew. The Astronomer called them an assembly line.

Di Loan building a fire by the side of the house to cook the bánh tét.


A large metal pot is placed atop the fire and filled with water.

Di Loan and Thi fanning the flames.

While we waited for the water to boil, we had an informal photo shoot. I forgot to wear pink pajamas!

Placing the bánh tét in the boiling water.

Extra banana leaves are placed on top of the water to keep the bánh tét from discoloring.

After six hours of boiling away, the bánh tét will be ready to eat! Photos of the finished product to come!

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