Published on Saturday, 10 March 2018 08:07
Written by Saigoneer.
It’s hard to find a Vietnamese who isn’t familiar with the story behind the country’s sticky rice cakes: bánh chưng and bánh giày. After all, the legend of these ceremonial fares is intertwined with Vietnam’s founding fathers.
While many are aware of bánh chưng‘s origin story and do relish slices of them every Tet season, the arduous process behind the making of bánh chưng might still be obscure knowledge to some. A few weeks ago before Tet, Saigoneer made a journey to one of Hanoi’s most major artisan enclaves, Tranh Khuc Village in Thanh Tri District, to learn how to make Vietnam’s traditional dish.
The village only has some 300 households, 90 of which make bánh chưng every year for special occasions and Tet. Around 10 families even elevated their business to industrial level, capable of churning out thousands of them per day.
Because Tranh Khuc villagers have been in the business for generations, they have gotten the process down pat to a harmonious assembly line: one person washes the leaf covers, one makes the mung bean paste, one transforms them into square cakes, etc.
Once finished, each of them will be neatly arranged into a gargantuan pot to be boiled for from eight to 10 hours. While the craft is traditional, in recent years, Tranh Khuc residents have slowly introduced technological innovations into their production chain: using electric heater instead of burning coal to reduce pollution and ease the process, and making use of vacuum packaging methods to increase the cakes’ shelf-life.
Have a look at the intricate process behind each bánh chưng below:
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