Banana sticky rice cake for a sweet Lunar New Year

06:00 | 28/02/2021 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - Banana sticky rice cakes for Tet, the Lunar New Year, made of sweet ripened bananas, soft-chewy sticky rice, peanut and coconut milk, have become a hit overseas with exports expanding as far as Germany and Australia.

banana sticky rice cake for a sweet lunar new year

The cake export operation is a joint effort by the Ba Chau establishment in the southern city of Can Tho, which specializes in Vietnamese Tet cakes (made with sticky rice, filled with pork fat and green beans and seasoned with black pepper and shallots), and BJ&T Joint Stock Company, a business specializing in clean food such as tofu, fresh vermicelli and noodles.

According to Ba Chau owner Nguyen Thi Ngoc Bich, preparation of the delicious cakes consists of three steps. The first is cleaning and soaking glutinous rice (which has a sticky consistency) overnight before cooking. The rice is then placed in a pot together with coconut milk, water, salt and brown sugar and put on the range. The concoction is stirred until the coconut milk has dissolved and the pot is left to simmer until most of the coconut-water mixture has been absorbed.

For best results, the bananas should be ripe Thai Manzano (also called apple bananas) or Cavendish bananas. Other varieties may not turn pink or red when cooked but do not affect the taste of the cakes. Experts advise planning ahead as bananas may take time to ripen especially during the winter months. Once ripe, the bananas should be dark yellow with some black patches. They should be soft when gently squeezed without being mushy.

banana sticky rice cake for a sweet lunar new year
Banana sticky rice cakes for export to Germany and Australia

Freezing and re-heating

The banana leaves are softened by holding them above a flame for a minute or so. The banana leaf is then placed on a table and a tablespoon of rice is put on top. A bit of banana is then added followed by an extra tablespoon of the sticky rice so that the banana is wedged in the middle, after which the edges of the banana leaf are folded. This is followed by tightly rolling the leaf and its contents so that the rice completely encases the banana. The result should be a round tube about 7cm thick.

The last step is to bake the rolls on a charcoal stove. Moderate heat turns out beautiful cakes encased in golden brown shells, with a delicious sticky filling.

In order to produce a large volume for export, Bich bakes her cakes in an electric oven, enabling her to produce 120 cakes at the same time. The packaged products are stored in cold storage before being packed into a frozen container for export. Once thawed, the cake only needs to be re-baked, sprinkled with coconut milk and peanuts for immediate use. BJ&T has exported more than 30,000 of these cakes.

In addition to hiring more workers to produce a sufficient quantity of the cakes that meet export standards, this product undergoes a series of strict food hygiene and safety standard tests, and thus can be frozen and preserved for up to two years.

Other Tet delicacies are also available in global markets, including boiled corn and potatoes, Chung cake, It cake, Tet cake, and Tieu cake.

Ngoc Thao