Feb 2018

Tết 2018: Not Your Grandma’s Bánh Chưng (Recipe Perfected Edition)

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

With the Year of the Dog around the corner, my friends and I (the newly anointed Bánh Chưng Collective) gathered this past weekend to make bánh chưng. For those who are unfamiliar with the tradition, bánh chưng are banana leaf-wrapped sticky rice parcels filled with pork belly and mung beans that are an essential part of Tết (Vietnamese New Year).

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

After five years of trial and error (check out our highlight reel: 2013, 2015, 2017), The Collective Chef Diep Tran truly perfected the recipe. Compared to years past, our ingredients were streamlined and our techniques refined. I’d venture to call us a well-oiled bánh chưng-making machine.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

The sweet scent of shallots sautéing in butter wafted through the air as The Astronomer, June, and I pulled up to the Eagle Rock compound, the site of this year’s festivities.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

June and The Astronomer got straight to work trimming string and twine to exact specifications. These were set aside for tying the bánh chưng later on in the day.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

This year’s simplified set up included hunks of pork belly marinated in fish sauce and black pepper, mung beans seasoned with salt and cooked until softened, shallots thinly sliced and sautéed in salt and butter, and glutinous rice soaked overnight.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

Assemblage…

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

…and more assemblage.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

My parcels weren’t the prettiest, but they certainly got the job done.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

To cook the bánh chưng, we placed them in Foodsaver bags along with crushed ice and used a vacuum sealer to seal. The purpose of the ice is twofold—create a proper seal on the Foodsaver bags (it’s difficult to seal wet food in a vacuum seal) and to hydrate the rice.

Tet 2018 | Banh Chung Collective

After filling the Instant Pot with water, we placed the bánh chưng in and set it for 45 minutes on “soup” mode.

Banh Chung 2018

This is what the bánh chưng looked like when they emerged from the Instant Pot.

Banh Chung 2018

And this is what it looked like moments before I inhaled it.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy, and prosperous Year of the Dog. It’s gonna be good.

Instant Pot Bánh Chưng Recipe by Chef Diep Tran

Ingredients

  • Pork belly, marinated overnight in fish sauce and black pepper and sliced (1.5″ x 1.5″ x 1/2″)
  • Mung beans, seasoned with salt and cooked until softened
  • Shallots, thinly sliced and sautéed in salt and butter
  • Glutinous rice, soaked overnight
  • Banana leaves, washed and trimmed

Equipment

Assembling the bánh chưng

Line the stainless steel square mold with banana leaves, kind of like an extra-long “sling” in each direction plus an enforcement “ring” around the inner perimeter (to keep rice from leaking out the corners). Fill the bottom of the parcel with glutinous rice, about 3 tablespoons.

Add a slice of pork belly, shallots (1/2 tablespoon), and mung beans (1 tablespoon) atop the foundational grains. Lastly, fill the parcel’s remaining area with additional glutinous rice.

Fold the banana leaf “sling” pieces over the top and use twine to seal the parcel. Trim any excess leaves with scissors.

Cooking the bánh chưng

Place the bánh chưng in Foodsaver bags along with crushed ice. Using a vacuum sealer, remove air and seal completely.

Fill the Instant Pot with water and place the vacuum-sealed bánh chưng in the vessel. Cook for 45 minutes on “soup” mode.

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