Chung Cake in Vietnamese Tet Tray

 The Tet tray of our Vietnamese people from ancient times to now has always had an indispensable dish, which is banh chung.

Since ancient times, our forefathers had a saying: "Fat meat, onion melon, red couplets / The tree, firecrackers, green banh chung".

There are things in this couplet that are no longer paid attention to by many people, but banh chung is still present on Tet holiday even though the circumstances of each rich and poor family are different.

According to an old legend, Chung cake has appeared in our country since the 6th Hung King period. At that time, Hung King wanted to pass the throne to his son, so he asked his children to make a feast to worship the Tien Vuong. If anyone pleases the king, the king will pass the throne to him.

While the other sons race to find delicious and strange things in the forest and in the sea to worship the Tien Vuong in the hope that their father will inherit the throne.

As for Lang Lieu (whose name is Tiet Lieu), he worked as a farmer and lived in poverty, so he was very worried and didn't know what to do. Suddenly, he was sleeping at night when he saw the god in a dream:

“There is nothing in heaven and earth that is as precious as rice, which is food for people to live. Sticky rice should be used to make round and square cakes, to symbolize Heaven and Earth. Take the outer leaf, put the core in the intestine to image the birth parents".

And, Lang Lieu made cakes from things available in the house to worship the Tien Vuong and heaven and earth like the dream he had met. Unexpectedly, his father chose Lang Lieu to succeed his throne.

Since then, Chung cake has been present on the altar of Vietnamese people to express gratitude to the heavens and the earth for the favorable weather, good crops, and abundant harvests to bring a prosperous life for children. people.

Because of being aware of the role and meaning of banh chung on Tet holiday, from past to present, everyone has been very attentive in the preparation stages to form banh chung for their family to celebrate Tet.

To have a delicious pot of banh chung, Vietnamese people often focus on choosing ingredients very carefully.

Farmers pay attention right from the time of planting rice and taking care of rice development. When reaping, often dry rice thickly and dry it for many days to avoid premature drying of rice, which will lead to broken rice grains.

On the day near Tet, when milling, the woman in the family often chooses seasonal sticky rice or yellow-grained sticky rice to make banh chung.

The filling is also carefully selected: Green beans for filling are usually home-grown or purchased from familiar places to ensure safety. Meat wrapped cakes usually choose bacon (three doi) to ensure that the cake is both fat and lean, so that the finished cake is both fatty, soft and has meat in the filling.

The filling of the cake also always ensures the right spice, so the person making the filling often adds a little salt, a little ginger, a little pepper to make the cake delicious and attractive.

Not only is the preparation of the ingredients for the cake carefully prepared, but the selection of the ingredients for the cake packaging is also very picky. Tied lattes are usually the type of lat Giang that is cut in the forest so that when wrapping the cake, it is both beautiful and flexible, later on, the lattices will make a string to tie the cake.

Dong leaves are also taken from the forest, the leaves are large and green, in addition, you can add banana leaves, banana seeds - these leaves are often less torn and do not redden the cake when cooked. In many places, they also make coconut leaf cake frames to make it square and beautiful to make ancestral worship cakes.

When cooking cakes, most of them are solid firewood, prepared by families many months in advance. Because the cake pot usually cooks for about 12 hours, the firewood is also very important.

When the pot of banh chung is sticky with water for the first time, the water is drained so that the cake does not have the smell of leaves.

Then pour another water into it to cook, when the second sticky rice water comes out, the cook usually keeps the fire smaller, but it must burn evenly so that the cake is not raw and the cake will cook evenly and keep it longer during Tet.

In the countryside, the happiest day of Tet is the day of wrapping banh chung, almost the whole family focuses on this work. Some people soak rice, some people slice meat, some people make cakes, some people wipe leaves, some make frames...

A few teenage children kept jumping around happily sitting on the mat wrapping banh chung to see the cake package. Even when cooking at night, they stay up with the same pot of banh chung with their parents.

The climate in the North is often cold during Tet, so when the cake is brown, the whole family gathers around the pot of banh chung to drink tea and chat. The family atmosphere is very warm.

Because when cooking banh chung, the stove coals a lot and is very red, so parents often bury the potatoes and corn for the children. The smell of sweet potato and roasted corn is still lingering in the mix with the strangely fragrant smell of banh chung.

When the pot of cooked cakes is taken out, what the children are waiting for the most are small cakes - cakes only for the little ones in the house.

When holding a cake that is strung with a piece of rice, it is running around the yard or crawling at the beginning of the alley. When I'm bored, I peel off the cake to eat. The taste of banh chung has been waiting for a whole year… a whole year to meet again, so everyone is extremely happy when sipping the flavor of the cake.

I've been away from home for many years and it's been a long time since I waited to cook a pot of banh chung with my family during Tet.

Now, every time it's Tet, my family often puts a couple of pairs of ready-made cakes in the market because there's not much to eat, but it's difficult to choose ingredients, pots, and firewood in the middle of the street.

Therefore, remembering the atmosphere of wrapping banh chung in the countryside makes my heart flutter and miss.

Eating and drinking now during Tet is easier and not as fussy as before. Everything is available, but why is it missing the old soul of the country.

The weather in the South during Tet is always sunny, so the preparation of food and drinks is even simpler. Naturally, recalling the days of childhood, holding a baby cake, running around waiting for Tet to come back...

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