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Cuisine

20 September, 2017

FAT CAKE IN ASH

This is a traditional food that is used for Đoan Ngọ Tết (Vietnamese version of Chinese Duanwe festival on May 5th of Chinese calendar). On this day, taking a tour around the markets, you can find this food anywhere. It has a cone shape, as large as an adult’s hand, or a cube shape, depending on the maker. Usually when it is used as an offering to ancestors, it would have a pyramid shape. Despite its simple looks, the process to make it is rather complex and requires skill. It is wrapped in dong (Phrynium placentarium) leaves, banana leaves, but most common is bamboo leaves, and the inside is filled with glutinous rice and mung beans. The cake itself is made from round and fat glutinous rice, the ash is made from remains of burning woods that has been filtered carefully. The rice is soaked in water infused with ash for a certain amount of time then washed with cold water and dry. Nowadays, industrial ashes has been plentiful enough to supply the demand but some people still prefer to make their own. Mung beans are washed and cook until soft, then lower the heat to make the surface dry, add sugar according to taste, shut off heat, let cool then roll into balls. Wash bamboo leaves with boiling water to make the leaves tougher and easier to wrap. Roll the leaves in to cones, put in rice and fillings, then put in another layer of rice, wrap into pyramids and tie up evenly and tight. When done, make into bundles and boil in water. This is not often sold in singles but rather in bundles. People often buy lots of bundles to offer to ancestors and enjoy them afterwards. When cooked, it is very easy to remove the wrap. It has a yellow and clear color, with the whole thing intact without a single grain on the wrap. It has a chewy texture with a smoky aroma of the ash. The filling is sweet but not overly sweet. People like to eat it on a hot day. Few places has became famous for it like Cái Tàu and Cà Mau.

Collected by Linh Trang