Bánh chưng is an essential dish of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, also called "Tết". Before the New Year, families often gift them to each other, and it is not uncommon to end up with significant amounts of bánh chung long after the holidays!
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 5-6 hours
INGREDIENTS FOR 2 CAKES
- 1kg sticky rice
- Pandan or spinach extract
- 500g mung beans, peeled
- 1 onion
- 200g pork belly
- Black pepper
- 8 banana leaves
- Nuoc mam fish sauce
- Wooden frame (20x20 cm)
- Wooden spatula
- Large cooking pot
- 8 long kitchen strings
Wash and rinse the rice before draining it well. Add half a tablespoon of salt, then let it soak for 20 minutes in pandan or spinach extract.
Let the mung beans soak in hot water for at least 2 hours and drain them. Boil the mung beans. Once they are cooked, mash them into a puree.
Cut the onion and the pork belly into slices. Put them in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper, according to your preference. Mix everything together.
Wash the banana leaves and dry them. Place the 4 long strings under the wooden frame, crossing them to form a grid (2 strings placed horizontally, and 2 strings placed vertically). Line the inside of the frame with the banana leaves to form a "box" open at the top.
Put 250g of raw rice in the banana leaves. Flatten it with a wooden spatula so that it is spread on the whole surface of the “box”. Cover the rice with 125g of mung bean puree, then press down again. Make a layer with 100g of meat on top, then a layer with 125g of mung bean puree above. Finally, cover everything with another 250g of rice.
Press down firmly on the top with a wooden spatula so that the surface of the cake is flat. Fold the edges of the banana leaves towards the center, as if to wrap a gift. Close everything with the strings and tighten well. Make sure it is watertight so that water does not get into the cake while it is cooking.
Remove the wrapped cake from the wooden frame and repeat these steps for the second one.
Plunge the banh chung delicately into a large pot of simmering water and let the cakes cook for at least 5 hours over low heat. Make sure the water is always at the same level.
Let the banh chung cool completely before eating them. Serve the cakes in slices or pieces, with nuoc mam sauce and/or sprinkled with a little sugar.
Banh chung can be conserved for approximately 7 to 10 days in the fridge. You can reheat the cakes in a steamer, in a pan, or simply in the microwave.