February 8 is the start of the Lunar New Year, celebrated throughout Asia with festivals, merriment and – of course – good food. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tết, and this celebration comes with its share of unique tasty treats. One of the most emblematic Tết foods is the Bánh chưng sticky rice cake. These glutinous rice cakes, filled with beans and/or pork are wrapped in Phrynium leaves (or banana leaves if you don’t have those), and steamed. Banh Chung are eaten year-round, but they are considered to be a particularly essential part of the family altar on Tet. We were particularly interested by Banh Chung because, unlike many New Year dishes, these are savory rather than sweet. So how do you make your own? Danang Cuisine has an easy-to-follow recipe, and Viet World Kitchen has a step by step guide on how to properly wrap the leaves using a mold.
As the Vietnamese saying goes, certain things are a necessity for a good Tết, including Banh Chung:
Vietnamese: Thịt mỡ, dưa hành, câu đối đỏ
Cây nêu, tràng pháo, bánh chưng xanh
Translation: Rich meats, Pickled onions, red couplets
Nêu tree, firecracker, green bánh chưng