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Preparations for Tết: Bánh Tét, pt. 2

At 2am, our timer alarms went off and we dragged ourselves into the kitchen to take our first batch bánh tét out of the boiling water to drain and dry overnight. This is how they looked the following morning:

cooked bánh tét

And the moment of truth – cutting into our bánh tét:


Here’s a closer look, with bánh tét cut into a ready to eat slice and the banana leaves peeled away:

Bánh tét slice close up

Aesthetically, the center should be more centered (I must have forgotten to massage this roll to distribute the rice more evenly after forming the initial cylinder) but functionally everything looked good: The banana leaves imparted their flavor and color onto the rice. The pork belly were tender and delicious. The rice themselves expanded during the cooking process and formed a solid shell around the beans and meat inside.

This is important: bánh tét and bánh chưng are associated with Tết because of their long shelf life, due in part to this rice shell. The 6 hours of intense boiling achieved sterilization and the thick shell of rice formed a hermetic seal around the nutrient dense, easily spoiled, and delicious center. Many other food associated with Tết such as dưa món (pickled vegetables) and thịt kho tầu (caramelized braised pork and eggs) – are similarly known for their resistance to spoilage. So after an intense day or so of cooking, we had food that would last for weeks, leaving us free to pay visits to family and friends, all of whom are also doing same.

A Tết care package: Bánh tét, bưởi, & tương ớt

Bánh tét/bánh chưng are also favored gift items during Tết visits, probably to replenish the ones eaten by previous waves of guests. Another common gift are grapefruits for the fruit tray on the ancestors’ altar. Just a single grapefruit can sometimes infuse the whole house with a lovely fragrance during the holidays. With that in mind, we put together a care package for parents and grandparents whom we sadly could not visit this year : our homemade bánh tét, a pair of Melogold pomelos, and a jar of our homemade tương ớt (chilli sauce.) Why Melogold specifically? It’s our favorite variety of the enormous citrus family. Our first encounter with it was a Toucan Sam like hunt for the source of that lovely scent that wafted across the produce section. In subsequent seasons the scent had not been as strong but the sweet, flavorful taste were still consistent. Why tương ớt? Just because we made some and we thought it was good.

Happy New Year, everyone!


  1. This is off topic, but I love that ‘tuong ot jar’, now that I recognize what it is :). Yum! And spicy :P. And have you guys been eating the ‘forgotten’ ba’nh te’t with lamb :P?

    PS: Melogold huh! I wish the markets here would give proper names to their produce so that one day I may encounter it, knowing what it is :). I’m so curious now.

    • No, we haven’t eaten the lamb bánh tét yet. I think Quang Duong is the lucky one now since that bánh tét is in A2.

      We will make bánh tét again soon (maybe in May) and will send them out to people who want to sample our bánh tét :)


  1. […] posts : How to make bánh tét (method), cooked bánh tét (results), discussion & future directions. This entry was posted in creation, experiment and tagged […]

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