Vietnamese rice cake (bánh chưng)

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6-year-old insisted on playing tic-tac-toe. I guess my rice-cake wrapping skill is not too bad. We are totally ready for Lunar New Year!


Vietnamese Rice Cake (Bánh chưng)

(for one 12-cm-square rice cake)

Note: a 8-quart instant pot can fit 4 of these rice cakes.

225 g – 250 g sweet rice
120 g dried, hulled, split yellow mung beans
100 g pork belly (sliced into 4-cm x 5-cm pieces with 1-cm thick)
1/2 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 pieces of banana leaves (24-cm square)
4 pieces of banana leaves (3-cm x 12-cm)
2 piece of banana leave (10-cm square)
Kitchen twine
1 mold (12-cm square)

Preparation the night before:

  1. Soak sweet rice over night with 1 1/2 tbs salt. If soaking more than 12 hours, you will need to change the water at least once.
  2. Soak mung beans over night with 1 tbs salt.
  3. Marinate pork belly slices with fish sauce and freshly ground pepper for at least 2 hours, best is over night.
  4. If using frozen banana leaves, let them thaw over night too.

Preparation on the day of making Bánh Chưng:

  1. Steam mung beans until cooked, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add 1 tsp freshly ground pepper to the mung beans. Set aside until cool completely.
  3. Drain sweet rice and set aside.

Wrapping Bánh Chưng (see instruction photos below, courtesy of Gocbep):

  1. Line the interior of the mold with 4 pieces of banana leaves (24-cm square).
  2. Line the corners with 4 pieces of banana strips (3-cm x 12-cm).
  3. Line the top with 1 piece of banana leave (10-cm square)
  4. Use a rice bowl to scoop the drained sweet rice (about 3/4 of the bowl) and pour into the mold.
  5. Use the back of the spoon to distribute the rice evenly, especially in the corners.
  6. Scoop about 4 tbs of the mung beans on the rice.
  7. Add 3-4 pieces of marinated pork bellies on top of the mung bean.
  8. Scoop another 4 tbs of the mung beans to cover the meat.
  9. Finally, add about 3/4 bowl of rice on top.
  10. Use the back of the spoon to distribute the filling evenly.
  11. Place 1 piece of banana leave (10-cm square on top), and wrap the cake.
  12. Use kitchen twine to tie the cake.

Cooking Bánh Chưng:

  1. Put the rice cakes on a large stock pot, cover with water.
  2. Place a plate on top to make sure the cakes submerge in water.
  3. Boil for 6 hours.
  4. Alternatively, use an Instant Pot and set to “Meat/Stew” function, cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  5. Transfer the cake to a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Put another baking sheet on top of the cakes.
  7. Place a heavy item such as another pot or a rock on top.
  8. Let the cakes completely cool.

Vietnamese New Year Cake Vietnamese New Year Cake