Vietnamese sticky rice cake: 10 traditional delicacies that you must try

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

During your Vietnam travel journey, besides exploring cultural and historical attractions, you should not miss out on the chance to enjoy Vietnamese sticky rice cake. This unique type of Vietnamese cake offers travelers a glimpse into the heart of Vietnamese culture and traditions. Read on to explore some special kinds of Vietnamese sticky rice cake!

1. Vietnamese square sticky rice cake (Banh chung)

The Vietnamese square sticky rice cake, known as Chung cake, holds a special meaning in Vietnamese culture. This Vietnamese sticky rice cake represents the union of heaven and earth, embodying the hopes and dreams of the Vietnamese people for a prosperous new year. During traditional celebrations, especially around the Lunar New Year, you will find Banh Chung taking a place of honor on ancestral altars. Banh Chung is often made from sticky rice, pork belly, mung beans, shallots, pepper, and then covered with Dong leaves. It takes a lot of time and effort, and every step is carefully thought out to ensure that the flavors of Chung Cake blend harmoniously.

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

2. Vietnamese cylindrical sticky rice cake (Banh tet)

Besides Banh Chung, Banh Tet is one of the must-have Vietnamese traditional dishes during the Lunar New Year in southern Vietnam. Made from simple ingredients like glutinous rice, green beans, pork belly, and spices, Banh Tet’s round shape implies unity in families. Vietnamese people carefully layer these ingredients in banana leaves and boil them for several hours to create delicious cakes. It is not an exaggeration to say that when you taste Banh Tet, you are tasting a piece of Vietnamese culture and people’s dreams for a brighter future.

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3. Vietnamese sticky rice sandwich (Banh giay)

Banh Giay, a popular kind of cake found in various regions, offers distinct flavors in each locale. The traditional version of it is made from soft sticky rice, often with surprises inside like sweet beans and coconut. The cake’s round shape and white color represent the sky in ancient Vietnamese beliefs. 

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

The process of making Banh Giay is quite intricate. People have to select high-quality, well-cooked glutinous rice (sometimes even cooking it twice), then laboriously pound it in a mortar until it transforms into a soft, sticky dough. This physically demanding task is often taken on by young men, as the stickiness of cooked rice makes the pounding a challenge.

4. Vietnamese green sticky rice cake (Banh com)

Banh Com, also known as green sticky rice, is a specialty of Hanoi that travelers should not miss out on. This renowned delicacy is crafted from plump and delectable yellow glutinous rice grains with velvety green bean paste and coconut inside. The coconut, neither too youthful nor too mature, is grated into delicate fibers. These fibers intertwine with the green beans, forming a delightful, aromatic, and wonderfully chewy filling that speaks of comfort and satisfaction. 

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

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5. Vietnamese sticky rice cake with ramie leaf (Banh gai)

Different from other kinds of Vietnamese sticky rice cake that have vibrant colors, Banh Gai impresses diners with its striking black exterior. This special treat is famous in many provinces like Hai Duong, Nam Dinh, Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa, and Nghe An, each with its own secret methods to make it wonderfully tasty and unique. Crafted from ramie leaves, tender mung beans, and glutinous rice, Banh Gai’s preparation encapsulates tradition and creativity. The ramie leaves enrobe the mixture, bestowing the cake with its exceptional black coating, a visual delight that sets it apart. 

6. Vietnamese sticky rice dumplings (Banh it tran)

Banh It Tran is a salty version of Vietnamese sticky rice, which is really popular in the southern provinces. Being made from glutinous rice flour, the rice dough is skillfully shaped into small, dumpling-like discs before being gently steamed. This process gives them a soft, slightly chewy texture that is wonderfully comforting. 

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

Inside, the filling takes center stage, offering a medley of minced pork, mushrooms, and shallots. This mixture, seasoned with fish sauce and a hint of black pepper, bursts with umami goodness. A touch of freshness comes from the inclusion of cilantro, while the subtle crunch of fried shallots crowns each dumpling.

>>> Don’t forget to try Vietnamese rice cake during your holiday in this beautiful S-shaped country!

7. Vietnamese glutinous rice balls (Banh troi nuoc)

Banh Troi Nuoc takes center stage on the third day of the third lunar month, known as the “Hàn Thực” Festival (meaning Cold Foods Festival). During this time, families come together to honor Buddha and their ancestors, offering round white or five-colored glutinous rice balls. 

To make these meaningful delicacies, simple yet essential ingredients come into play. Glutinous rice flour and plain rice flour form the foundation, meticulously shaped into round balls. These balls are then adorned with grated coconut, creating a delightful contrast in texture. The gentle sweetness of alum sugar, the earthy aroma of white sesame, and a pinch of salt harmoniously come together, infusing the rice balls with rich flavors that pay homage to heritage.

8. Vietnamese glutinous rice balls with mung beans (Banh chay)

Banh Chay is also one of the cakes made from glutinous rice that is often accompanied by Banh Troi Nuoc on the Cold Foods Festival. Made from glutinous rice flour like its counterpart – Banh Troi, Banh Chay is a touch larger, measuring around 3 to 3.5 inches in diameter. Inside this cake, a sweet surprise awaits – a generous filling of fragrant mung beans. 

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

When savored, Banh Chay is often served with a flavorful broth made from ginger, sugar, or honey. This harmonious combination elevates the taste experience, enhancing the blend of textures and flavors.

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9. Vietnamese sticky rice cake filled with mung beans (Banh nep nhan dau xanh)

Banh Nep Nhan Dau Xanh is not limited to New Year’s celebrations, where it cozies up beside Banh Chung and Banh Giay. It has also earned its place at the breakfast table. To make this cake, the mung beans are skillfully transformed into a velvety paste, harmonizing with the glutinous rice flour to create a delicate balance of flavors and textures. It is often wrapped in tender banana leaves before being steamed.

10. Vietnamese sticky rice cake with herbal ash (Banh tro)

Banh Tro is a special Vietnamese delight that captures simplicity and skill. Made with just glutinous rice, fragrant straw ash, lime, banana leaves, and molasses, it is a true art. Ash liquid is created by burning straw and mixing it with lime-infused water. The rice soaks in this fragrant liquid, then is wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. Once cooled, the cake is cut into pieces and paired with molasses for a rich flavor. Unwrapping the cake reveals its soft amber color, evoking memories of a warm village. 

Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

Besides Vietnamese sticky rice cakes, there are a plethora of exquisite dishes that you should enjoy when you are in the S-shaped country, including Vietnamese fish cake, Vietnamese bread, Vietnamese summer rolls, Pho rolls, Vietnamese spring rolls, Vietnamese salad, Vietnamese noodles

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Vietnamese sticky rice cakes


Vietnamese sticky rice cakes

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Vietnamese sticky rice cakes shine as not only delectable delights but also as cultural symbols and cherished traditions. With each bite, you embrace the stories of generations past, the artistry of skilled hands, and the joy of shared moments. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam for your upcoming vacation, make sure to try out this delightful kind of cake.

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