As well as traditional treats, such as cốm làng Vòng (Vòng Village’s green sticky rice) and phu thê (husband and wife) cakes, Hà Nội is well known for its bánh chả (sweet meat pie in lumps) which is hundreds of years old.
My friend Nguyễn Thị Ngân, who settled in Germany almost 30 years ago, has just returned to Hà Nội with her children.
|Traditional hand-made bánh chả is among Hà Nội's most dishes. — Photo toplist.vn|
“My trip not only aims to help my children, who were born in Germany, to have an overview of the beautiful landscapes and changes since the south was fully liberated since April 30, 1975, but also for them to enjoy traditional dishes such as bánh chả, which my parents and I like it so much,” Ngân told Việt Nam News.
“I still remember bánh chả’s special flavour: the pungent aroma mixes with the sweet, greasy pork fat and crispy of the cake’s cover, which I had enjoyed during my childhood in the country. My parents said they missed the cake’s own characteristics so much, particularly during unification days.”
|Bánh chả is a must-try dish for visitors and travellers to the capital. — Photo toplist.vn|
Although modern sweets and cakes produced by machines are available in supermarkets, Ngân said her parents prefer hand-made Vietnamese cakes such as bánh chả, mid-autumn cakes, candy peas and many others very much because of its special tasty and delicious,
Nguyễn Thị Liên, a Hanoian artisan making traditional cakes, said ingredients for bánh chả should be carefully chosen, such as pork loins from a pig raised with organic food. This kind of fat is much more fragrant and soft compared with others. It plays an important part in the cake’s quality.
|Ingredients of bánh chả include pork fat, lemon leaves and many others. — Photo vtc.vn|
The fat is cut into tiny, pomegranate seed-shaped pieces, then mixed with sugar and a little sticky rice powder for about ten days. Lemon leaves are a deciding ingredient to make the cake different from others. However, the lemon leaves should be old, so they are rich in fragrant oils.
Other ingredients include sausage, pumpkin jam, sugar, salt, and cooking oil. All of these ingredients are mixed and fried.
|Foodies line up to buy bánh chả and other traditional cakes. — Photo toplist.vn|
The cake’s cover is made of wheat flour which should be fermented well and then spread to become a rectangle shape about 3mm thin. Then, the dumpling is rolled out and cut into pieces about 2cm by 3cm each. Makers often spread chicken eggs on the cake’s cover before baking for 20 minutes.
With traditional items, including bánh chả, preservatives are never used, so it is very nutritious. It is particularly enjoyable with a cup of hot lotus tea and is an ideal time to leave mobile phones aside to talk with friends, said Liên. — VNS