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)
1 mold (12-cm square)
Preparation the night before:
- 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.
- Soak mung beans over night with 1 tbs salt.
- Marinate pork belly slices with fish sauce and freshly ground pepper for at least 2 hours, best is over night.
- If using frozen banana leaves, let them thaw over night too.
Preparation on the day of making Bánh Chưng:
- Steam mung beans until cooked, about 10 minutes.
- Add 1 tsp freshly ground pepper to the mung beans. Set aside until cool completely.
- Drain sweet rice and set aside.
Wrapping Bánh Chưng (see instruction photos below, courtesy of Gocbep):
- Line the interior of the mold with 4 pieces of banana leaves (24-cm square).
- Line the corners with 4 pieces of banana strips (3-cm x 12-cm).
- Line the top with 1 piece of banana leave (10-cm square)
- Use a rice bowl to scoop the drained sweet rice (about 3/4 of the bowl) and pour into the mold.
- Use the back of the spoon to distribute the rice evenly, especially in the corners.
- Scoop about 4 tbs of the mung beans on the rice.
- Add 3-4 pieces of marinated pork bellies on top of the mung bean.
- Scoop another 4 tbs of the mung beans to cover the meat.
- Finally, add about 3/4 bowl of rice on top.
- Use the back of the spoon to distribute the filling evenly.
- Place 1 piece of banana leave (10-cm square on top), and wrap the cake.
- Use kitchen twine to tie the cake.
Cooking Bánh Chưng:
- Put the rice cakes on a large stock pot, cover with water.
- Place a plate on top to make sure the cakes submerge in water.
- Boil for 6 hours.
- Alternatively, use an Instant Pot and set to “Meat/Stew” function, cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Transfer the cake to a rimmed baking sheet.
- Put another baking sheet on top of the cakes.
- Place a heavy item such as another pot or a rock on top.
- Let the cakes completely cool.