Pan-Fried Banh Tet Recipe

Pan-Fried Banh Tet Recipe  Recipe

Hoa Tâm, a family friend, came to visit a few days ago and she gave us a very useful tip on how to avoid bánh tét food waste after the Lunar New Year celebrations. What is bánh tét you ask? It's a Vietnamese savory rice cake (at times sweetened with bananas). It's made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape, with a mung bean or mung bean and meat center, then boiled. It's a must-have traditional food during Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in Southern Vietnam. We've been given a lot of the logs this season; it's a way to demonstrate the importance of rice in the Vietnamese culture. I told Hoa Tâm my fear that we'd have a lot of leftovers and didn't want to waste all the food. She then give uswonderful trick; if you have a lot of these rice cakes as e do, look no further!

Simply slice them and pan-fry them. Once crispy, drizzle with nước mắm chay (if you're a vegetarian) or fish sauce. It's as simple as that. Thanks, dear Chi Hoa Tâm!


Yields: 6 servings

1 store-bought bánh tét log (see tips), banana leaves removed and discarded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons pineapple sauce (see tips)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
5 tablespoons boiling water
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lime juice with pulp, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon very finely chopped lemongrass (optional)
2 teaspoons red Thai chili pepper (optional), finely chopped, to taste


Slice the bánh tét log into 6 to 8 thick slices, depending on the length od the log. Heat a non-stick pan and fry 1 clove of garlic. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add the slices to the hot garlicky oil and pan-fry until lightly golden on both sides.

In the same mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in boiling water. Let the water cool to room temperature. Add the rice vinegar, lime juice and pineapple sauce. Mix in the remaining raw garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chili pepper (if using).

When ready to serve, drizzle with the vegetarian pineapple sauce.



If you like, you can add pickled daikon radish, carrots and coarsely crushed peanuts before serving.

You can find the pineapple sauce at most Asian markets. It's a great substitute for fish sauce. I bought mine at the Manila market at the intersection of Quimby road and South White Road in San Jose. It tastes almost as pungent as fish sauce, except it's vegetarian. You could also replace it with fish sauce or soy sauce.

Making the bánh tét logs is a time-consuming process. I've personally never made one myself; I usually buy them in stores on Tully road (San Jose, California). Some of the best are from CD Bakery & Deli -Dao Bakery & Deli LLC, (1816 Tully road, #198, San Jose CA 95122) and the ones from L'amour des baguettes (1181 Story road, San Jose, CA 95122). My personal favorite is the banana-flavored bánh tét from CD Bakery. The layer of cơm nếp (glutinous rice) is not too thick, contains red beans and is cooked to perfection. The banana center is very flavorful. The lady from the bakery said it takes up to 12 hours to boil the sticky rice cake rolls. It is a once-a-year delicacy. 


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on February 18, 2015.


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