The origin of banh chung is known through the legend of “Banh chung, banh day” of Prince Lang Lieu with its square shape and plump filling wrapped in familiar green dong leaves. Not only on Tet holidays, banh chung appears every day as a favorite traditional dish of Vietnamese people.
For thousands of years with the Vietnamese, the old traditional banh chung also has many new variations in both color and flavor. It is possible to name a few varieties of banh chung modified under the following list:
Glutinous rice cake
Anyone who is a fan of sticky rice can’t miss the sticky rice cake. Banh chung with sticky rice is a specialty of Thai people in Yen Bai. A special feature of Banh Chung is that it is made of sticky rice with a characteristic purple-black color. One can use pure glutinous rice or mix it with regular glutinous rice.
The less regular sticky rice is mixed or the more pure sticky rice is used, the darker purple the cake will be. With the characteristic of sticky rice being soft, sweet but still crispy, sticky rice cake is more mouth-watering than regular banh chung. Traditional Thai sticky rice cake has a round shape, but nearly many families have switched to square packs.
Black rice cake
Banh Chung is originally a dish of some Northwest ethnic groups such as Tay and Thai people. In order to have beautiful colorful cakes, Thai Muong Lo people will look for nuc nac tree or black sesame flower, while Tay people will find forest salt tree, burn it into charcoal, then pound it finely, mix it with washed upland sticky rice and soak in water. Thanks to this powder, when finished, the cake will have a very fancy black color.
Just like the sticky rice cake, the traditional black banh chung of the people is wrapped in a round shape. The filling is still green beans, fatty meat, and pepper. The highlight of the black Chung cake is that the crust is very flexible because it is made from upland glutinous rice, and the filling is fatty but strange to eat, low in fat due to the ashes of forest trees. Many people said that it is also thanks to the forest trees that the black banh chung eats less full than the banh chung made from ordinary glutinous rice.
Five-color banh chung
Just mentioning the name is enough to know how unique this type of banh chung is. Along with colorful colors, each color part has a different flavor. The type of banh chung with 5 colors: white, yellow, blue, purple, red symbolizes the five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Tho, bringing the meaning of peace and luck for the new year to the owner.
Five-color banh chung is a boredom treat for those who like banh chung but want to find something new than the green color from dong leaves every year. The color of the five-color banh chung is made with natural ingredients: the red color of gac, the purple color of the sticky rice, the yellow color of fresh turmeric juice, the green color of the milled galangal leaves.
It can be said that five-color banh chung is very difficult to make because arranging rice so that the cake has all 5 colors with the least deviation, the most beautiful requires a very skilled packaging person.
Banh chung com
Banh chung com is a delicious cake but very difficult to make, the reason is because it is young sticky rice, which is inherently flexible, so it is easy to break when boiled. Therefore, to make banh chung com, the maker needs to be skillful in choosing ingredients, cooking fire, and cooking time. In return, the thin banh chung is green with eyes, when eaten, it has the characteristic softness and aroma of nuggets. Few people make banh chung, if they do it, they usually make it with Tu Le nuggets because the quality of the nuggets is guaranteed and uniform.
Banh Chung Gac
True to the name, Gac Chung cake uses Gac meat to mix with glutinous rice, giving a very beautiful orange color. Many people like banh chung gac because the red-orange color of this cake evokes good luck and good fortune on the first day of the year. The difference between banh chung gac and other types of banh chung is that this dish can make both sweet and savory fillings suitable, but many people prefer sweeter banh chung.
Brown rice cake
At first glance, sticky rice cakes and sticky rice cakes are quite similar, but in fact they are completely different. Brown rice is inherently hard, but it is good for health, especially good for people with diabetes. But because it is hard, when using brown rice to make banh chung, people have to wash, soak and boil it very carefully to make it soft.
Thanks to the characteristics of rice, brown rice cakes are less boring, suitable for those who need to limit starch. In addition, many people also like to use brown rice to make vegetarian banh chung, nutritious banh chung.
Banh chung with galangal leaves
In fact, galangal leaf chung cake is a traditional banh chung, the only difference is, glutinous rice instead of washing, soaking, draining and then wrapping it will be mixed with galangal leaf juice. The cake thus has a uniform blue color for each grain of rice, not just the surface of the cake.
Although it is not clear who was the first to think of mixing crushed galangal leaves with juice mixed into rice before wrapping the cake, the attractiveness of the banh chung with galangal leaves cannot be denied. If you are picky about making banh chung with galangal leaves, upland sticky rice and pork, the cake will be even more delicious.