The women wearing conical hat, working as street vendors and wandering on every corner of Can Tho streets becomes the beauty and the familiar picture to local people.
If you have an opportunity to travel to Can Tho, you should not be hesitant to try the must-not-miss specialty called Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) which is a truly rustic specialty of the city’s culinary. The dishes have absolutely taken the hearts of many people who love cooking both in and outside of the country.
Can Tho is located in the downstream of Mekong river and the central of the Mekong delta. Can Tho is famous for its interlacing river system, abundant orchards, immense paddy field, Ninh Kieu quay, Cai Rang floating market - a place of typical southern culture.
It is likely to say that Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) is the typical dish in northern Viet Nam. Over the time, this dish starts to appear in the Central and the South. Still the same food, but the difference in each region is shown by the flavor of the dish, which brings the typical features for the food culture of that region. The northern Viet Nam is prevalent for mild-flavor Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) being served with dipping soy source and crab soup. Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) accompanied by processed fish source and Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) served with baby basket clams are the outstanding nature in the central of Vietnam. And in the south, Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) that is colored-green with supplementary of Pandan leaves, illustrates the distinguishable symbol of the southwest Vietnam.
In Can Tho, there two kinds of Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) namely, Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) colored with Pandan leaf extract, and Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) made with salt. Despite their unique taste, both bring the savory flavor of the countryside, which is rustic but scrumptious. These dishes are made using homegrown ingredients of the fruitful area.
Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) made with salt has the color white which people often called “young and soft”. There is nothing much in the baskets of street peddlers selling Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake), except some fish source jars, coconut milk, Vietnamese scallion oil, minced meat with shrimp, cucumber, herbs and a tray of Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) made from pure white flour. However, in order to have a good taste of Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake), we have to go through many phases. To avoid flour from being soft, watery, we must choose the old and good rice, soak it in water for several hours and then grind into flour, mix flour with coconut milk. Moreover, in order for flour to be well-seasoned and ready to cook, add sugar and salt, and then leave the flour in the plastic basin.
In Can Tho, there two kinds of Bánh Đúc namely, Bánh Đúc colored with Pandan leaf extract, and Bánh Đúc made with salt. Despite their unique taste, both bring the savory flavor of the countryside, which is rustic but scrumptious.
Selected shrimp must be fresh, washed, peeled, withdrawn the intestine and squeeze the shrimp roe into a bowl, add two teaspoons of sugar to the shrimp roe and then blend them together, use a knife to finely chop the meat and head of shrimp along with minced pork, then make it available to be used.
An indispensable part of Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) is cassava: cassava is peeled; washed, chopped and minced. Purple onion is peeled, washed and finely chopped. After that, the mixture of shrimp, pork, and chopped cassava is marinated in salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate to suit the taste. Pan-fry the chopped spring onion to create Aroma and then put the mixture into the pan to stir-fry it. The shrimp roe is the most important to make the cake’s filling yummy and have an attractive color. If there is no shrimp roe, we can use the color of the cashew nut instead.
The final phase of making Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) is to steam the cake. Before pouring the paste into the mold, apply a layer of cooking oil to the mold in order for the cake not to be stuck when we take it out. Place the aluminum molds in the steamer when the water is boiled, pour the first layer of paste into the mold, and put the lip on. The difficult part is to set the time so that the first layer is nearly cooked then we continue to make the second layer, and keep going on until the mold is nearly full, put the mixture on the top of the Pandan rice cake and steam them together. Let the cake cool down, take it out, and cut it into diamond or rectangular shapes.
Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) is usually served with the sweet and sour fish source with garlic and chili. To enhance the flavor of the dish, diners should eat with sliced cucumber, hot-water soaked bean sprout and herbs. Moreover, you can add a few spoons of warm coconut milk to make the cake sweeter and greasier.
Bánh Đúc lá dứa (Pandan rice cake) is quite similar to Bánh đúc mặn (rice cake made with salt), but the former is sweet, brings the beautiful green along with aromatic feature of pandan leaves. How to make Pandan rice cake is quite simple. The rice is soaked thoroughly before being put into the mortar, and grind it into flour. Then, the Panda leaves are carefully washed, milled and filtered for their juice. Next, pour the rice flour and the juice into the pot to boil them, the secret to have a delicious Pandan rice cake is to pay attention to the fire and stir evenly. If you want to increase the toughness of the cake, add a little lye water. Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake) is served with two kinds of sauce namely coconut milk and sugar water. About coconut milk, we extract coconut meat from the brown coconut, cut coconut meat into pieces and blend it with a little tapioca starch powder and cups of warm water, then strain the mixture with cheesecloth to have the paste; next we squeeze the paste tightly to make the white and thick liquid called coconut milk. Sugar water is cooked to be dried together with some pieces of roasted peanut sprinkled on the top of the cake. Taste a piece of Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake), you will feel fully the typical flavors dissolved together in a simple but delicate dish.
If you have an opportunity to visit to Can Tho, you will occasionally see some venders selling this dish on the street. At that moment, you shouldn’t hesitate to try a delicious bowl of Bánh Đúc (Pandan rice cake). It is truly wrong not to try this specialty of the river area in both “versions”. Not only do you feel the flavor of the cake itself but also the taste of cultural beauty of Can Tho people over the years.
Source: thegioidisan.vn - Translated by Hoang Dat