Instead of bánh tét, people from Northern Vietnam wrap bánh chưng for Tết. This past Christmas, we learned to make bánh chưng from Grandma. For Tết in Houston, we demonstrated that the lesson (mostly) stuck.
That’s right, folks, Rau Om enters the cutting edge world of moving pictures with a short kinematographic post to Youtube.
The days before Tết are a frenzy of food preparations, including wrapping and cooking bánh tét if one’s from Southern Vietnam. This past Tết season, we went home and learned from Mom a more efficient way to wrap than what was previously described in our previous bánh tét post.
The music included in the video is “Improvisations in the Spring Mode” by our music teacher, the amazing master musician Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo.
This past Christmas my grandmother (bà ngoại) taught me how to make bánh chưng. The last time we made bánh chưng together, I was 5. I ran amuck and made a big mess of everything – my grandmother still complains about all the tactics she needed to chase me away or keep me distracted. Nevertheless, “helping” bà ngoại make bánh chưng and staying up watching the adults tend to the fire and the bubbling pot of bánh chưng remain one of my fondest memories. Despite not running amuck and not making as big a mess this time around, learning to make bánh chưng with bà ngoại is another cherished event. It made my grandmother happy, too, finally to have someone help her make bánh chưng again. Maybe making bánh chưng will even become a regular holiday event once more!
For us, chè bưởi (pomelo pudding or pomelo dessert soup) is a dish that always sounds so appealing, yet is perpetually disappointing (and we’re not alone). The name chè bưởi promises so much more than is actually delivered – the laborious process to produce palatable pomelo pith plunders away all of that lovely floral citrus scent. This loss is traditionally compensated for by adding essence of hoa bưởi (pomelo flowers) or hoa cau (areca nut palm flowers), but the results are not the same.
While researching candied peel for our gỏi bưởi / pomelo salad dish, we found a simpler way to process pomelo pith that also preserved its natural scent. The resulting chè bưởi was lovely all by its fragrant self, or further decorated with fresh lilacs:
Wow, 3 posts on desserts in a row. This must be some kind of record for me
Note: This isn’t the powdery mung bean cake you can get from northern Viet Nam or Vietnamese supermarkets in the US.
This is one of the few actual recipes with ingredient measurements that we know, simply because it came from my Mom, who was patient enough to figure out all these measurements for me. This is a very easy recipe and the results are definitely yummy. Enjoy!
Mung beans (without the green seed covering): 300 grams (1.5 cups)
Sugar: 300 grams (1.5 cups) (we prefer our desserts on the less sweet side, so if you prefer more sweetness, you should definitely add a bit more sugar to the batter)
Water: 1/2 cup
Flour: 1/3 cup
Tapioca flour: 1/3 cup
Coconut milk: 1 can (14oz)
Oil: 2 tablespoons
Milk: 1 cup (optional)
– Soak mung beans in warm water for an hour, then drain.
– Boil water, cook soaked mung beans in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, then drain. Put the pot back on the stove, turn heat to very low, steam for about 20 minutes. Mash the cooked mung beans.
– Add 1/2 cup of water and sugar to a small sauce pan, cook on medium heat for about 6-7 minutes. Let it cool down
– Combine cooked mung beans, sugar syrup (above), flour, tapioca flour, oil, coconut milk, milk and vanilla extract. Blend well in a blender or run the combined mixture through a sieve to get a smooth batter .
– Pour batter into a cake pan that has been lined with wax paper. Bake at 350F for about 1h and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool and put in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let it solidify further.
I referred to the weekend that we made this along with bánh xèo (Vietnamese crepes) and bánh tét the “mung beans and coconut milk” weekend. They are among the main ingredients of all three dishes. I guess these dishes are from southern Viet Nam and southerners just LOVE coconut milk and mung beans 😀