How to make 'Bánh Chưng' (Chung Cake) for Tet Holiday
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Chung Cake is a traditional cake of Vietnam. The cake implies gratitude of later generations to their forefather and hometown. Ingredients of Chung Cake include sticky rice, green bean, pork, dong leaves, and other additional spices as salt and pepper. Chung Cake is often made on traditional Tet Holiday of Vietnamese people and Hung King Festival (on the 10th day of the third lunar month). Chung Cake has the oldest history in traditional Vietnam cuisine. It is mentioned regularly in historical documents. The traditional cake has a significant position in the heart of Vietnamese people. The cake originated from a legend relating to Lang Lieu Prince, son of the 6th Hung King. The legend recalls the next generation about the national tradition. It is also a meaningful explanation and origin of Chung Cake, Day Cake in Vietnam culture, simultaneously, the importance of rice and nature in Wet Rice Civilization. According to today popular opinions, along with Day Cake, Chung Cake reflects the ancient Vietnamese people's opinion about the universe. The cake is in green and square shape, which reflects the image of earth in the religion of ancient Vietnamese people and other ethnic groups in Asia.
Existing since the 6th Hung King's Empire, Chung Cake has been going with national history and become the soul of Tet Holiday in Northern Vietnam. Once visiting Vietnam during Vietnam Lunar New Year, tourists will see on the feast of local people, there are Chung Cake laid on. These cakes seem to recall Vietnamese people about the legend of Banh Chung and Banh Day which symbolize the opinion bout the universe of ancient Vietnamese people.
Today, ingredients of making Chung Cake remain unchanged: sticky rice, green bean, pork and dong leave. Chung Cake will be more delicious if its ingredients are prepared carefully.
1.5 cups mung beans washed and soaked in water 4 hours
5.5 cups sticky rice washed and soaked in water 4 hours
500 g pork belly (1.1 lb) cut into cubes
2.5 tsp salt
2.5 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp fried shallot
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots smashed/crushed
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 kg banana leaves defrost
|1.Place the mung beans in a pot filled with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mashable, about 20-30 minutes. Mash into a paste with a potato masher or spoon. Season with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, fried shallot and vegetable oil.|
|2. Season the soaked sticky rice with 1 tsp salt.|
|3. Season the pork with 1/2 tsp salt, fish sauce, 1.5 tsp pepper, and shallots.|
|4. Take about a cup of the mashed mung beans, spread out on a saran wrap, add a few pieces of pork lean and fat and wrap it up shaping into a round or square piece.|
|5. To assemble, lay out two sheets of partially overlapping banana leaves, Place about a cup of rice in the center of the leaves. Place the filling on top of the rice. Then cover it up with another cup rice. Fold the leaves and wrap it tightly like a present.|
|6. It is very important that the contents don't shift or spill during cooking. If the boiling water penetrates into the cake, it will make the cake soggy. So it is a great help to wrap it one more time. For the first layer, make sure the darker side of banana leaf faces the rice so that it can tint the cake with a nice subtle green color later. However, for last layer, the darker side of banana leaf should face outside to give it a beautiful green package.|
|7. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the cakes and place a heavy object on top to make sure they stay submerged. Simmer until the cakes feel plump and the rice is congealed, about 6-8 hours. Keep an eye on the pot and add more hot water as necessary to keeps the cakes covered.|
|8. To serve, unwrap the cake and cut into wedges or slices using thread or dental floss. Bánh chưng are often eaten with pickled onions (dua hanh), pickled vegetables in fish sauce (dua mon), or dipped in sugar for a sweet treat. They can also be sliced, pan fried until golden, and served with sugar or sweet chili sauce|
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