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Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Vietnamese New Year Recipe: Banh Chung

Banh Chung

This Vietnamese dish is traditionally eaten on Tết, the country’s New Year’s celebration. However, Banh Chung is so delicious, the dish doubles as a daily staple. Even more fun than unwrapping the bundle of sticky rice and pork, is the tale of its inception. Ruler Hung Vuong challenged his princes to present to him the most delicious symbolic dish they could find to honor Tết. The winner would become his successor. While most traveled the world for exotic ingredients, the poorest of the sons, Lang Lieu, was confined to Vietnam. He devised Banh Chung and won both the competition and the throne. With some Western conveniences, this dish is shockingly easy to prepare.

• 2 cups sticky rice
• 1/4 cup dried mung beans
• 6 ounces boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 tablespoons green onion, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon soy
• 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• plastic wrap
• aluminum foil
• string

1. Place uncooked rice in one bowl and mung beans in a second. Cover with water and soak overnight.

2. When ready to prep the packet, combine pork, green onions, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Set aside. While pork marinates, drain rice and beans. Add beans to a small sauce pan, add one cup of water, and simmer. Remove and mash by hand or pulse in a small food processor.

3. Stir salt into rice. In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork and sauté until meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a square pan (about 8×8 or the rectangular equivalent), spread pieces of plastic wrap to make a 17-inch square. On top of this, place a sheet of aluminum foil of the same size.

5. Spread half of the soaked rice on the foil. Top rice with a layer of half the beans. Place the pork mixture on top. Add remaining beans and top with remaining rice.

5. Wrap cake thoroughly in the plastic wrap and foil. Place packet on another large sheet of plastic wrap and wrap and seal tightly. Tie securely with a long piece of heavy string or twine, lengthwise and crosswise.

6. Place packet in a slow cooker. Add hot water until covered. Place lid on slow cooker, and cook at a simmer for 5-6 hours. Remove and let cool for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap, cut into serving-size pieces with foil still on, plate, and unwrap.

© 2012, Lauren Capitani. All rights reserved.

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Lauren Capitani was an early foodie. While her friends were busy watching Family Ties , she was tuned into Graham Kerr and Yan Can Cook, and served her friends and family dishes such as beef wellington and baked alaska while still a teen. After college, Lauren received Masters' degrees in both journalism and business and worked in both subsequent fields. At 29, she decided to rewrite her life and became an assistant teacher. For the first time, her vocation became her avocation. She now has certification in both both elementary and early childhood education and has taught at seven schools on both coasts (and in between). Lauren has lived summers in France, England, Spain, Japan, and Thailand, and has visited more than a dozen other countries. When her own children start limiting their food choices, Lauren turned it into a teaching moment and created One World Whisk, a global cooking initiative for children. The project garnered more than 200 followers before its one-month charter was complete.

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  1. CommentsLunar New Year: January 23, 2012 | InCultureParent   |  Tuesday, 17 January 2012 at 10:13 am

    […] friends and many traditional foods are eaten such as yuanxiao (sweet, stuffed rice balls) in China, bánh chưng (steamed sticky rice with pork) in Vietnam and tteokguk (soup with sliced rice cakes) in Korea. […]

  2. CommentsAshley   |  Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 11:17 am

    The recipe itself sounds really good, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable feeding my family anything that was cooked for six hours in PLASTIC WRAP. Surely there’s an alternative.??

  3. CommentsThe Editors   |  Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I am generally anti heated plastic, but could not find the original wrapper in my town.. If you can find any bamboo, lotus, or banana leaves, you can soak the leaves, wrap the rice in them, then secure with 2-3 layers of foil, and tie. (Oddly, all but two recipes I saw anywhere had rice wrapped in leaves then plastic wrap. One had the combo I used. and one had the leaves then foil.)

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