Hanoi Cuisine

Bánh Trôi - Bánh Chay (Cold Comfort)  


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The Vietnamese often make two kinds of cakes: banh troi (floating cake) and banh chay (lean cake) on the third day of the third month of the Lunar year. This is known as the “Cold Food Festival”. In Vietnam, most people may have forgotten its origins but it’s still considered an important occasion for ancestral offerings. The cakes are popular desserts in both rural and urban areas.

Banh troi are small white balls made of brown sugar, wrapped in glutinous rice flour. The name floating cakes came about from the way it is actually cooked. Banh chay are also made of glutinous flour, however, they resemble boiled dumplings and are filled with mung bean paste, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served in bowls with syrups floured with grapefrui blossom. 


Bún Thang Hà Nội (Rice vermicelli soup)


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It is almost impossible to resist the temptation of tasting “Bun thang” soup when you see it dished up in a bowl put on a low bamboo table in the old Dong Xuan Market, even if you are not hungry.

Seeing a customer coming, the girl selling”bun thang” smiled, gently took a bowl to rinse it in a pot of boiling water, wiped it dry She put at the bottom of the bowl some polygonum. and coriandrum, filled the bowl up to the brim with vermicelli and then dished up all the other ingredients on the white surface of the vermicelli: you must have no less than 20 ingredients to make a good soup of “bun thang” In the end, she poured a ladle of boiling broth over the bowl, them emptied it back to the pot, so as to make the vermicelli warmer, and finally, poured a sufficient quantity of broth into the bowl for the soup to be served hot. According to the taste of each customer, some shrimp paste must be added to give the soup a particular smell. 


Giò Chả (mixed grinded pork) 


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Gio cha (pork pie boiled or fired or grilled). Pounded meat, impregnated with fragrant ingredients, wrapped in banana leaves and stewed is called gio. If grilled, it is called cha. These two preparations may be viewed as cold food, to be eaten with glutinous or ordinary rice, bread, or banh day (pounded cooked glutinous rice).

They are convenient for a picnic and can be kept for three or four days in a cool and well-aired place. They are available in all markets.