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
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.