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January 11: Vietnam

Tet Pork and Sticky Rice Cake (Banh Chung) with Stir Fried Vegetables

I cook Vietnamese for my family a fair amount. The kids love making summer rolls, and banh mi sandwiches have been a staple since I visited in Hanoi in 1997. As much as I like sticky rice, I have never attempted it. Using some western additions, it was simple and quick (although does require both overnight prep and a long slow-cooker bath). I used foil and Saran, thus it lacked some of the flavor from steaming in leaves. Next time I may try to add a 1/4 teaspoon of ground tea leaves.

Tet Pork and Sticky Rice Cake (Banh Chung) 

  • 2 cups sticky rice
  • 1/4 cup dried mung beans, hulled
  • 6 ounces boneless pork shoulder or roast, cut into thin-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoons scallion, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • plastic wrap
  • aluminum foil
  • string

Place rice in one bowl and mung beans in another. Cover each with water and soak overnight.

The next morning, combine pork, scallions, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes. While pork mixture is marinating, drain rice and beans thoroughly. Add one cup fresh water to beans, and simmer in a small sauce pan. Remove and either pulse in small food processor or mash by hand. Stir salt into rice. In a skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork mixture and stir-fry until meat is cooked through but still tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a 8x8 square pan (or the rectangular equivalent), spread out a piece of plastic wrap about 17 inches square. On top of this, place a sheet of aluminum foil of the same size. Place almost half of the sticky rice in the middle of the foil and shape rice into a square layer. Top rice with a layer of beans, using half of them. Place pork slices on top of beans. Add remaining beans and top off with most of the remaining rice. Wrap cake by bringing together two edges of foil and plastic wrap. Fold the open ends as if you were wrapping a gift. Place packet, folded side down, on another large sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Tie securely with a long piece of heavy string or twine, lengthwise and crosswise. The packet should be square or rectangular.

Place packet in a slow cooker. Add hot water until covered. Place lid on slow cooker, and cook at a simmer (high heat on mine) for 5 hours. Remove and let cool for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap, cut into wedges with foil still on, plate, and unwrap.

Stir Fried Vietnamese Veggies

  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup baby corn, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine

Blanch top three ingredients in boiling water until they reach the texture you like. Heat oil in wok or large skillet. Add garlic and drained veggies. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on high heat for 2 minutes.

Printable Recipes

Did You Know?

Ruou Ran, a Vietnamese speciality, is rice wine with a pickled snake floating in it.

In many Vietnamese schools, instead of bells, gongs are used to call children.

Vietnam is famous for its bio-diversity and has the world’s six biosphere reserves.



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