Banh Chung - Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake

By Helen Le Published: January 19, 2014

  • Prep: 3 hrs 0 min
  • Cook: 10 hrs 0 min
  • Ready In: 18 hrs 0 min

  • Yield: 5 (10-15 Servings)

Bánh chưng is a traditional Vietnamese rice cake which is made from very simple and basic ingredients such as glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork. It's a must-have for Vietnamese New Year Tet.

  • Place the mung beans in a pot filled with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mashable, about 20-30 minutes. Mash into a paste with a potato masher or spoon. Season with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, fried shallot and vegetable oil.
  • Season the soaked sticky rice with 1 tsp salt.
  • Season the pork with 1/2 tsp salt, fish sauce, 1.5 tsp pepper, and shallots.
  • Take about a cup of the mashed mung beans, spread out on a saran wrap, add a few pieces of pork lean and fat and wrap it up shaping into a round or square piece.
  • To assemble, lay out two sheets of partially overlapping banana leaves, Place about a cup of rice in the center of the leaves. Place the filling on top of the rice. Then cover it up with another cup rice. Fold the leaves and wrap it tightly like a present.
  • It is very important that the contents don't shift or spill during cooking. If the boiling water penetrates into the cake, it will make the cake soggy. So it is a great help to wrap it one more time. For the first layer, make sure the darker side of banana leaf faces the rice so that it can tint the cake with a nice subtle green color later. However, for last layer, the darker side of banana leaf should face outside to give it a beautiful green package.
  • Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the cakes and place a heavy object on top to make sure they stay submerged. Simmer until the cakes feel plump and the rice is congealed, about 6-8 hours. Keep an eye on the pot and add more hot water as necessary to keeps the cakes covered.
  • To serve, unwrap the cake and cut into wedges or slices using thread or dental floss. Bánh chưng are often eaten with pickled onions (dua hanh), pickled vegetables in fish sauce (dua mon), or dipped in sugar for a sweet treat. They can also be sliced, pan fried until golden, and served with sugar or sweet chili sauce.