This is the year of the Tiger according to the Chinese calendar. Vietnamese also celebrate the new year using the same calendar. One of the great food tradition during Vietnamese New Year’s, Tết, is bánh chưng. It’s a log of sticky rice stuffed with mung beans and pork. Making bánh chưng is a laborious process with cooking time in the order of 6-10 hours depending on the size of the rice logs. Of course, bánh chưng isn’t authentic unless it’s wrapped in banana leaves! You can usually find this at Vietnamese or Asian Markets in the two-three weeks period around Tết/Chinese New Years.
There are a couple of ways to enjoy this – savory and sweet options.
1. Heat up a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds to 45 seconds. Drizzle the slice of sticky rice cake with either granulated sugar, maple syrup or honey.
2. In a hot skillet, heat up either some butter or olive oil. Place slices of sticky rice cake into the hot pan and fry both sides until golden brown and crispy. Option 1: Drizzle the slice of sticky rice cake with either granulated sugar, maple syrup or honey. Option 2: Dip a bite size portion of the sticky rice into a dipping bowl of fish sauce and sliced Thai chili peppers.
3. You can eat it plain, too! Just heat up a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds to 45 seconds.