Hanoi’s Me Tri commune is famous for its tradition of producing young sticky rice flakes called “Com” in Vietnamese.
A food stall offering products made from young sticky rice flakes.
The craft was recently added to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s list of national intangible cultural heritages.
Me Tri’s craft of making Com boasts nearly a century of history. Me Tri’s Com is said to be one of Hanoi’s best specialties. Almost every household in Me Tri Thuong and Me Tri Ha village is involved in the trade. Com is made from different types of rice, but the most delicious one is yellow flower sticky rice, which is the traditional and popular glutinous rice of the lowland and midland provinces of northern Vietnam.
"The process of making Com begins by harvesting or purchasing young rice varieties. The grains of rice are plucked off the ears and roasted in pans over a small fire. The rice is stirred constantly to maintain a steady heat, and then cooled in large, flat baskets. The roasted grains are then placed in a mortar and pounded. The amount of pounding depends on the rice variety. A typical batch of Com is pounded about seven times, yielding 1.7 kg of flakes from 10 kg of grains," said Tran Van Thanh, a Com making facility's owner in Me Tri Thuong village.
Today, Com is made using machines that increase productivity while improving food safety and hygiene. To produce delicious Com still requires skill, however.
"Com is used to flavor many different dishes, such as sweet porridge and steamed glutinous rice. And our products are now available abroad," said Nguyen Huu Can who lives in Me Tri Ha village.
No artificial colors are added to Com, which are wrapped in lotus leaves to retain their softness and fragrance. Former US President Barack Obama enjoyed Com while visiting Me Tri village during his trip to Vietnam in 2016.
Do Huy Hung, head of a Me Tri village club for Com makers, told VOV "We promoted our products during the 2nd US-DPRK summit in Hanoi last February. In 2012, we held a village festival that attracted many visitors. And in 2018, we brought our products to a culinary festival at Hanoi’s Unification Park. 85 households in our village are involved in the trade. Visitors are encouraged to try their hand at making Com."
Com, a long-time Hanoi favorite, has an important place among Vietnamese foods as a symbol of Vietnam’s age-old rice growing culture.