Bắc Ninh Province is not only famous far and wide for being the birthplace of a duo of love songs (locally known as hát quan họ) but also bánh tẻ (steamed rice cake) in Chờ Village.
"Unlike rice cake in other locations, Chờ Village’s rice cake is particularly tasty and delicious because it is wrapped up in dong (phrynium) leaves, a kind of leaf that grows in forests. In other locations makers often wrapped the cake in banana leaves," elderly villager Hoàng Thị Lý said.
|Chờ Village's bánh tẻ (traditional rice cake) helps to bring Bắc Ninh Province on the map as one of Việt Nam's special culinary centres. Photos Thúy Miền|
The cake is as big as two fingers but it is filled with stir-fried minced pork, fragrant mushroom, quality fish sauce, dried onion and pepper.
“These ingredients create a special savour of the cake,” Lý said, adding that no one, even the elderly, did not know exactly when the cake came into being but it is sold available in Bắc Ninh from street vendors to luxury restaurants.
The cake is never missing during big anniversaries such as Tết (Lunar New Year) or wedding parties.
It should be eaten hot, and the naturally fragrant from dong leaves makes mouths' water.
|Chờ villagers are wrapping up the rice cakes for a wedding party.|
Lý said to make such tasty rice cake, makers have to choose quality new rice.
The rice should be soaked in water and ground into wet powder. During the soaking process for three days, the water must be changed 3-4 times.
“The most important step is how to cook the wet powder so as to save it from being burnt. Makers have to pay special attention to this step if not it will spoil the whole lot,” she said.
|The rice cake is more enjoyable when dipping it in chilli sauce.|
After being wrapped up and tied the cake is being steamed for 25 and 30 minutes, Lý said.
In the past, the rice cake was only made during the Tết holiday or anniversaries such as engagement or wedding ceremonies, but now it is made year-round to meet increasing demand.
Nguyễn Thị Nhung, a big producer of the rice cake in Chờ Village, said her family makes 1,500-2,000 cakes daily and 5,000-7,000 cakes during special occasions.
|Chờ Village's rice cakes are not only tasty but also reflects the lifestyle of locals and its beautiful landscape.|
“The cake particularly sold well during these days including cold days and festivals such as Lim, one of the biggest festivals in Bắc Ninh, where flocked thousands of visitors and travellers across the nation,” Nhung said, adding that all of them buy the cake home to enjoy it and to gift their relatives and friends.
A traveller from Hà Nội, Trần Thị Sậu, said she often visits Bắc Ninh’s Lim Festival every year to enjoy folk songs and also Chờ Village rice cake.
The cake’s price is affordable at VNĐ10,000 per piece.
“When enjoying the cake I also have a feeling that it reflects clearly special soul and characteristics of locals and this rural land,” Sậu said. VNS