Dao Đỏ ethnic group’s bánh chưng gù become popular in Hà Nội

November 16, 2020 - 20:04
Different from bánh chưng (square glutinous rice cake) of the ethnic majority Kinh, the Dao Đỏ (red Dao) ethnic group in Hà Giang has their own cake known as bánh chưng gù (which translates as hunchback).

Nguyễn Thanh Hà

Different from bánh chưng (square glutinous rice cake) of the ethnic majority Kinh, the Dao Đỏ (red Dao) ethnic group in Hà Giang has their own cake known as bánh chưng gù (which translates as hunchback).

The name of the cake reflects an image of a woman carrying a basket on her back, bending to hard work in her field, said local elderly woman Nông Thị Dung.

Dung said the tradition of wrapping the cake has existed for a hundred years in her home Tùy Village. 

Kicker: Tinny bánh chưng gù (hunchback glutinous rice ) cakes, a specialty of Dao Đỏ ethnic group in the northern province of Hà Giang. — Photo travelgear.vn

In the past, the cake was only cooked for Tết but now locals make the cake for sale year-round.

The Dao Đỏ people place great importance on how to prepare ingredients to make the cake. All households grow special glutinous rice known as Khum variety which is much more fragrant and soft than others, said Dung, adding that they also planted green beans and raised black pig (the special pig which weighs about 50-60kg each, its meat is also fragrant and not too much fatty) to make the cake.

“All these things are homemade to ensure the cake’s quality,” Dung said, adding that people in the village believed that honouring their ancestors with delicious cakes would bring them luck all year.

Unlike the square glutinous rice of the Kinh, which often includes a frame made of six wild dong leaves cut in the forest to wrap the cake, the Dao Đỏ uses only one leaf because each cake is the size of a fist only.

Kicker: Locals in Hà Giang's Tùy Village are wrapping the cakes. — Photo baohagiang.vn

Dung said the glutinous rice should be soaked in water overnight while bacon should be soaked with fish sauce, salt and pepper for several hours to ensure the cake is sticky and delicious. To make the cake green, dong leaves should be fresh and washed clean.

She said that to create a hunchback form for the cake is a bit difficult and requires skill to avoid a deformed shape. The cake should be cooked over a wood fire for at least eight hours.

“When we were allowed by my mother to try the cake, I would never forget the cake’s flavours such as fragrant and sticky of the glutinous rice, buttery taste of the green beans and greas of the bacon,” Dung said.

Kicker: A tasty and delicious cake with nutritious dumpling of green bean and specialty black pig's meat. — Photo travlgear.vn

In the past, only the Dao Đỏ made the cake, now many villages in Hà Giang make the cakes for sale. They produce thousands of cakes to deliver to provinces and cities like Hà Nội and HCM City.

Đặng Thị Phượng in Hà Nội’s Hai Bà Trưng District said she often buys the cake for her family’s breakfast.

“The small size of 100-150 gram cake is suitable for my two children to eat in the morning before going to school. In addition, the cake has enough nutrition so my children say they do not feel hungry while in school compared with eating a bowl of phở.”

The cake is easy to take away and to peel so her children can do it themselves, said Phượng, adding that the cakes are affordable at only VNĐ25,000 each.

A seller in Hà Nội’s Tây Hồ District named Phạm Hưng said there are more and more bánh chưng gù lovers in the city so he can sell 300-400 cakes a day. 

However, he said the cake is wrapped by hand in a thin dong leave so it is difficult to preserve.

“You can't do like square glutinous rice cake which can be preserved for several days, bánh chưng gù should be eaten in one day after being cooked to ensure its tasty and enjoyable," he said.

Kicker: Quantity of cakes are ready for sale. - Photo dantri.com.vn

The cake is popular because apart from its cute size, it is made of organic ingredients, said Hưng.

Hưng said those wishing to buy many bánh chưng gù should order in advance so he can ask producers in Hà Giang to prepare it.

“Last Tết, I had to close my shop and refuse buyers because of an overload of orders,” Hưng said. VNS