Vietnamese Cake Recipes

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Tet Celebrations: Vietnamese Dessert Recipes Recipe

We're a week away from the Vietnamese New Year celebrations (called Tết). I've decorated the entrance of our home with cherry blossom flowers that I decorated with red envelopes that contain "lucky money", called lì xì. I've also picked up brand new dollar bills and placed them in the red envelopes to give to children. The tradition dictates that the first morning of the New Year, adults congratulate children on becoming a year older by giving them these lì xì envelopes.

Many Vietnamese desserts are served as well, before "offering" them to ancestors. I've gathered some of the Asian sweets that are prepared for this celebration. 


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Banh Cuon Recipe (Steamed Rice Rolls) Recipe

Bánh cuốn is a Vietnamese specialty made with a very thin, steamed, loosely rolled, rice flour crêpe. The recipe is not that complicated but assembling the rice rolls can be delicate. Unlike French crêpe, the batter is made from combined rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch, which makes bánh cuốn very flimsy and harder to manipulate. The first rice flour crêpe is never perfect, and I usually thin the batter with more water as I cook them, so they don't turn out too thick. The filling remains exposed since the rice roll is nearly transparent.

This time, I made a meat version with chicken. You could always make the rice flour crêpe with a vegetarian filling if you prefer. I tucked into each rice roll a filling of seasoned ground meat (I used chicken), wood ear mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water  chestnuts and dried shallots. Typically, bánh cuốn is sprinkled with fried shallots (or onions) with nước chấm (fish sauce). I served shrimp cakes and fried taro cakes on the side along with mounds of steamed soy bean sprouts, combined with cilantro, Vietnamese mint (rau thơm), shredded cucumber, lettuce, lime wedges and green Thai chiles.

It's not the prettiest meal, but it's a flavorful, earthy (thanks to the mushrooms), light meal dish. If you want to improve the presentation and avoid tearing, drizzle the rice roll with a little oil and expose the smooth part of the bánh cuốn on top to hide the wrinkly side.


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Happy Valentine and Vietnamese New Year 2010! Recipe
Today is Valentine's Day and Tết (the Vietnamese New Year)! First, I want to tell my husband Lulu how much I love him. We've known each other for more than 10 years now, married for 5 and I look forward to spending more years of blissful happiness with the love of my life. Joyeuse Saint-Valentin mon coeur!



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Recipes for a Chinese New Year Celebration Recipe

If you're wondering what the inscription on the photo is, it says "Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" or Happy New Year in Vietnamese. This year, since the Asian New Year follows the Lunar calendar, we have 2 celebrations at the same time: Valentine's Day and Tết (the Vietnamese New Year). We're going to be celebrating a romantic Lunar New Year of the Tiger !

I've started decorating the house with things that symbolize the New Year. I went to San Jose and bought Vietnamese flowers called bông vạn thọ, which literally translates to "longevity flowers". As usual, every year, I'm on a quest to find the best bánh tét. It's a must to have traditional food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year. I went to several different stores on Tully road (San Jose, California) and I'll give you the results this weekend of the best places I've found. Some of you might not know what a bánh tét is; it's a ake roll made from sticky glutinous rice and red beans with a center of mung bean paste with or without meat. The flavors vary; there could also be bananas in place of the lentils and meat. 

If you are observing the tradition of eating vegetarian foods (ăn chay) on the last day of the previous year and first day of New Year, check out my tofu recipes.

For more details about Chinese New Year celebrations, check out last year's post.

Banh Tet in Banana Leaves Picture
Bánh Tét (Sticky rice roll cakes wrapped in banana leaves).


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Cassava Coconut Vietnamese Cake (Banh Khoai Mi) Recipe

Bánh khoai mì nướng, literally baked cassava (or manioc) cake in Vietnamese, is a sticky, sweet cake. The cassava provides the starch, the coconut milk provides the fat, and condensed milk is used as a sweetener.  It's unlike any Western dessert you've ever tried.

Cassava is a starchy tuberous root that is widely used in South America, Africa and Asia.  The flour made from the roots is called tapioca.

 


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