Hue's Tet rice cake hub

By Tuyet Khoa, Thanh Nien News

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Banh chung, a traditional Vietnamese rice cake made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork and other ingredients. Photo: Tuyet Khoa Banh chung, a traditional Vietnamese rice cake made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork and other ingredients. Photo: Tuyet Khoa

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More than a dozen households in an alley in the central town of Hue have made and sold sticky rice cakes for decades.

This is the busiest time of the year for Nhat Le Street, with all stoves remaining on day and night to meet the huge demand for Tet.

 
All the stoves' fires keep burning all the time during this, the busy season of the year. Photo: Tuyet Khoa

Banh chung is a traditional Vietnamese rice cake made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork and other ingredients. The cake is wrapped in dong leaves (Phrynium placentarium), a large Asian variety, or banana leaves into a thick square to represent the ground based on the old belief that the Earth was square and the sky round.

Banh chung must be cooked for 12 hours to make sure they are well done and the lard is absorbed into the rice, bringing a nice, fatty flavor.


 Sticky rice is collected from farms in Hue. Photos: Tuyet Khoa
 Many use banana leaves to wrap a banh chung instead of dong leaves.
 
 A heap of leaves and rice wait for the next process.
 
 Each worker is in charge of a different process.
 
 
 The cakes are nearly ready for cooking ...
 
 ... they just need to be secured with plastic strings.
 They are put into a large pot to be boiled
  
 Finished pieces of banh chung in front of a house for sale
 
 
The cake is usually served with pickled 

Each workshop has 4-8 stoves working 24/7, churning out 1,000-2,000 banh chung cakes every Tet. The finished cakes are packed and sent to hundreds of locations around the country via airplane to appear in time at year-end parties.

 

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