Bánh Tét - Essential to Tet in the South of Vietnam
Banh Tet, a representative cake in the South Vietnam, can be easily found at any house during Tet. Banh Tet is another modified version of Banh Chung from the North. The ingredients, such as the glutinous rice, mung bean, cooked pork are almost the same as Banh Chung’s. The shape of Banh Tet, however, is cylindrical not square or round shaped.
Banh Tet in green leaves with cylinder shape after being wrapped.
Making Banh Tet
Banh Tet is often made in advance, about a week prior to Tet. Glutinous rice must be the best one - fragrant and fresh to create the highest quality Banh Tet. Mung bean should be rinsed many times before being cooked. Pork and pork’s fat seasoned with salt, sugar and other spices is cooked in advance before mixing all together. Some people also put dried shrimps together with pork at the core to make it more delicious. Banana leaf is used to cover all the ingredients. Once all ingredients prepared in advance have been put on the banana leaf and tightened with some plastic ribbons, Banh Tet, then, will be steamed in a large pot.
Just like Banh Chung, Banh Tet ingredients call for soaked glutinous rice and mung bean; pork and wrapping leaves.
When it’s ready, people use some threads and cleverly cut it horizontally. The soft glutinous rice well mixed with pork and mung bean looks like a donut without a hole in the middle but with a tasty core. Banh Tet is often eaten with cu cai muoi, cu cai nuoc mam (turnip pickles, turnip fishsauce pickles) and thit kho nuoc cot dua (pork cooked with coconut juice). Banh Tet can be stocked in the refrigerator during Tet. Whenever they want, they can steam it to reheat it or fry it in a pan to change the taste. Some people put some powder covering Banh Tet and fry it which makes it crispy and even tastier.
Serving Banh Tet and varieties
Tea would usually be an ideal drink to go with any kind of cake. Banh Tet is not an exception. A cup of hot tea would be perfect for cleaning adhesive rice in your teeth corners and increase the taste of Banh Tet when it comes down the throat.
Besides, Banh Tet can also be made from banana, called Banh Tet Chuoi. Banana must be ripe enough to make Banh Tet Chuoi sweet. Unripe banana will results in bitter and sour Banh Tet Chuoi. Banh Tet Chuoi is popular in Mekong Delta area, especially in Tien Giang Province. If you get a chance to stop by a market in Tien Giang Province, be sure not to miss it. Try a bite and you may like it,then!
If Banh Chung – Banh Day is considered as a symbol for the North, Banh Tet is a unique dish for Southern people. Banh Tet, as well as its process from making to savoring, has been a significant activity that partially brings the warm Tet atmosphere of reunions among family members and neighbors when they sit together and share the taste of Banh Tet on the first day of New Year.
During Tet, every family in Vietnam prepares a special tray of snack to offer guests, containing a variety candies, biscuits, jam, fruits; and roasted nuts are indispensable components off the tray.
Vietnamese people have a very good habit of saving, which are reflected by the regular meals – rice with a main dishes (meat or fish/shrimp), a vegetable food and a bowl of soup.
To many Hanoian generations, mung bean pudding has become a familiar dish which always presents on the ancestors’ altar at New Year’s Eve.