Banh chung is a traditional Vietnamese rice cake which is made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork and other ingredients. Its origin is told by the legend of Lang Lieu, a prince of the last king of the Sixth Hung Dynasty, who became the successor thanks to his creation of banh chung and banh giay.
Ingredients to cook Banh chung:
1.5 cups mung beans washed and soaked in water 4 hours
5.5 cups sticky rice washed and soaked in water 4 hours
500 g pork belly (1.1 lb) cut into cubes
2.5 tsp salt
2.5 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp fried shallot
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots smashed/crushed
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 kg banana leaves defrost
Prepare to cook banh chung:
Step 1: Add 4 tablespoons of salt to the sticky rice, cover with water and soak overnight. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to the mung beans, also cover with water and soak overnight.
On the next day, drain both the sticky rice and mung beans separately. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar to each. Mix each well and store separately.
Soak the dong leaves in hot water to soften.
Step 2: Season the pork with 1/2 tsp salt, fish sauce, 1.5 tsp pepper, and shallots.
Wrapping Banh chung:
Step 1: Trim the dong leaves, removing the tough stem and tip.
Step 2: Place a string at the bottom of the mold. Place two leaves number 1 & 2 in one direction, slightly overlapping to cover the width of the mold.
Step 3: Place 1 bowl of sticky rice on the leaves, ensuring the rice is distributed evenly to the corners. Top with 1 cup of mung beans, layer on top with pork, then add another bowl of beans, followed by a bowl of rice.
Step 4: Press down with a spoon to condense the filling and ensure the surface is flat.
Step 5: Tie the cake firmly with the string, crossing over at the back and moving down 1/3 each time until you’ve formed a grid-like pattern and the leaves are not loose. With the remaining string, connect the first and the last lines to create a handle.
Cooking Banh chung:
Place in a large pot, pour hot water to cover the cakes and boil for 3 hours. Add hot water every hour if necessary.
After 3 hours or so, remove the cakes, submerge them into cold water and wash them one by one for a few minutes. Drain and leave them on a hard and flat surface, weigh them down with something heavy to keep shape, until they are cool.
To be eaten at room temperature or pan-fried for a crisp crust.
Marinade the pork with a mix of light soy, dark soy, sesame oil and five spice powder for extra fragrance
Best served with dua mon (Vietnamese pickles)
The cake should keep for 10 days in the fridge or several months in the freezer