Banh Duc (Plain rice flan)
It is considered one of the most rustic and simple cakes in Hanoi cuisine, but the way to serve it varies thanks to Hanoian gastronomists. “Bánh đúc lạc” is the most popular in the north. The main ingredients are non-glutinous rice flour or corn-flour and peanut. Firstly, grind soaked rice with water in a grist mill; next, add lime juice to the flour solution with fine proportion to bring the cake a certain glutinous degree; then boil the solution, add peanuts to enhance nutty flavor, and stir it continuously to prevent it being burnt. When well-done, bánh đúc has a jelly shape and mild flavor. It is served either hot or cold, commonly with soy sauce and sometimes with tofu. The buttery taste of peanut, rice flour, the spicy sweet flavor of soy sauce and the cool of soft tofu are mingled perfectly together to bring us a cool dish in hot days. It is also interesting to relish a hot bow of bánh đúc topped with ground pork, grilled ground spawns, fried onions, roasted sesame seeds and herbs, called “bánh đúc thịt”, a good treat in the winter. In the southern, instead of being ivory-white, bánh đúc is distinctive itself with green color extracted from fragrance grass and the cool sweet taste coming from syrup or coconut juice.
Where to eat
To date, it is quite hard to find a nice stall to savor bánh đúc. The best place so far to try this dish is Ngon restaurant at 160 Pasteur Street, Ho Chi Minh City or at 14 Phan Bội Châu Street, Hanoi.
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