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Coconut sugar rolls satisfy cravings on the cheap

Update: July, 03/2018 - 09:00
Lively: The roll wakes all of our senses as it is crispy, sweet and fragrant. — Photo
Viet Nam News

By Minh Thu

It’s easy to satisfy your craving for sugar when you are travelling. Just look out for the bicycles stopping at the side of the road, carrying white boxes with the letters Bò Bía Ngọt (sweet summer roll) marked in red.

The snack reminds Vietnamese people of their childhoods. Each day when school finished, children with empty stomachs would rush out to the school gate looking for the old men or women selling this special gift on their bicycles. Now, sweet summer roll has become a popular street food not only sold for students but for all in need of a snack.

The sellers wander along Hà Nội streets, around Hoàn Kiếm Lake, through the Old Quarter and the West Lake.

Everywhere: It’s easy to find bicycles stopped at the side of the road, carrying white boxes with the letters Bò Bía Ngọt marked in red. — Photo

Bò bía ngọt is a snack prepared right after a customer orders, so there’s no doubt of its freshness. It consists of two pieces of lumpia wrappers, stuffed with blocks of crispy sugar candies, shredded coconut meat and a good sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Before wrapping, the seller added some drops of grapefruit flower extract. A big roll costs VNĐ10,000, which seems no cost at all. If you find this size too big, you can order two small rolls for the same price.

Nguyễn Văn Minh from the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc said he started making rice papers for making sweet summer rolls in 1998. Everyday, his family makes 5,000 rice papers to sell for bò bía ngọt vendors.

Simple sweets: Ingredients for the dish include rice paper, shredded coconut and sugar bars. — Photo

Bò bía ngọt is popular in many cities and provinces of the country. The dish is originates from China and is also popular in countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, according to Minh.

“The dish is quite cheap but actually, it has changed life for many people like us,” he said.

Now most people in Bảo Đức Village where Minh lives earn a living by making rice papers and sugar bars, the main ingredients of bò bía ngọt.

The roll wakes all of our senses as it is crispy, sweet and fragrant. Yet the delicate flavours are produced by simple ingredients you can find almost anywhere. The rice paper or crepe wrapper in this dish is made from wheat flour and a little sugar, but it is slightly different from the one used in spring rolls. The crepe must be absolutely thin but strong at the same time so that it can hold all the fillings. Pulled sugar is a crispy candy bar made from malt. The coconut must be shaved from mature coconuts so that it can be crispy and buttery.

Choose your adventure: The sellers can customise according to buyers’ preferences, adding more coconut and black sesame seeds as you like. — Photo

It’s just a small roll with few ingredients, but it’s a perfect combination: sweetness and crumbliness from the candy bars and a buttery taste from coconut and black sesame seeds. Though the dish is sweet, it’s not very heavy, so you can eat several without feeling full.

Vendors can turn out a lovely roll in less than a minute, but when you eat it you should savour each bite to notice every flavour.  

You will surely see bò bía ngọt bicycles touring round Hà Nội, and when you do, stop them and buy one. Or five. — VNS


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