Being the soul Vietnamese Tet – Chung cake, Mochi Rice cake (Banh day) and Tet cake (Banh Tet) are foods that are not only delicious but also carry a lot of national meaning. Going to Thuy Duong Village of Chung cake in Thuy Nguyen district on this occasion to feel the hustle atmosphere of Tet coming soon.
For a long time, Chung cake of Thuy Duong has been well-known domestically and internationally. If ordering Chung cake as a gift for expatriates or for worshiping the Tet at home, Chung cake of Thuy Duong is the first dish to be chosen. In Thuy Duong Village, there are about 30 families making Chung cake, and the best Chung cake makers through generations belongs to families of Mrs. Chien, Mrs. Truot, Mr. Vuot, Mr. Hoai, Mr. Them, Mr. Na, etc.
Chung cake is wrapped with dong leaves and banana leaves, with addition of pork meat, green bean, scallion, pepper, fish sauce for a completion of taste (Photo: collected)
Visiting Thuy Duong Village this time, you will observe that households are busy making Chung cakes. Each family is like a small factory and the working atmosphere is always vivid. Residents of Thuy Duong Village consider making Chung cake as a traditional career, a pride, and an economic source of families there.
Delicious slides of pork meat are cleverly wrapped in a layer of green bean paste (Photo: collected)
To remain the reputable name of Thuy Duong Village’s Chung cake, it requires a strict and careful selection of ingredients to guarantee the delicacy and taste of Chung cakes. To make such Chung cake, sticky rice needs to be “yellow-flower sticky rice” (nep cai hoa vang), soaked for at least 2-3 hours in warm water. Pork is pork butt or belly (about 300 grams) to make the cake fattened and enriched. Then, the meat is sliced into thick sizes and marinated with pepper, fish sauce, and monosodium glutamate for a fragrant smell and taste. The cake is wrapped with dong leaves for the cover and additional banana leaves inside, the leaves need to be washed and dried. Beside well-done preparation, technical factors, ingredients, fest water from the village’s wells contributes to create such a special taste of Thuy Duong Village’s Chung cake.
The village’s residents mentioned that Thuy Duong’s Chung cake is made with a ratio of 4:1 (meaning 4 rice with 1 green bean) to ensure that rice covers around the green bean paste and two sides (top and bottom) have equal ratio. After putting into the cake, a pork meat slice wrapped by green bean paste, the cake is quickly wrapped, tied and adjusted for good shape before and after boiling the cake. Specifically, the cake is made and wrapped by hands, without using molds. Even though, under skillful hands, such beautiful and square-shaped cakes are made. Chung cakes are usually boiled for 8-10 hours, weigh around 1 kg to 1.2 kg. From 15 December to Tet according to the Lunar Calendar, households making Chung cake have to work through noon, wrapping cakes until midnight, then taking turns looking after pots boiling Chung cakes until morning to make sure all Chung cakes well boiled in good-shape and good-taste to be delivered to customers.
When Chung cakes are well boiled, they are squeezed out of water and left overnight to be solid in cohesion (Photo: Collected).
Seeing Chung cakes is to see Tet! So, whatever and wherever Vietnamese people are, they always look forward to being reunited with beloved people, telling each other old stories, inhaling fragrant scent of dong leaves, glutinous rice and sweet taste of green bean, fatty enrichment of pork meat inside Chung cakes.
Thuy Duong Village’s stoves are always on the warm fire and hustle atmosphere. The flaming stoves never go out to express love for the career of making Chung cake and that was lit by the elders in Thuy Duong Village and being protected and nurtured through residential generations of Thuy Duong Village as a charm of culture born by that land./.