This time around, Khau Tan Don sticky rice fields in Tham Duong Commune, Van Ban District, Lao Cai Province, have started to turn yellow, a bit later than other sticky rice crops.
|Green flakes made from Khau Tan Don sticky rice.|
“Com” - the green flakes – made from Khau Tan Don sticky rice, is honored as “the best sticky rice” by local people and wins applause for its sweet taste, flavor, and texture.
Tham Duong, a commune in a low-hill area 19 kilometers of downtown Van Ban District, is pivotal to Lao Cai’s provincial socio-economic development. Khau Tan Don sticky rice, a specialty of Tham Duong Commune, often leaves a thin layer of glossy oil in the wrapped leaves after being steamed.
Only one crop of Khau Tan Don sticky rice is cultivated each year, which begins in April and ends in September of the lunar calendar. Their “com” is an indispensable part of the offering food tray and New Rice Feast of Tham Duong residents.
Vi Thi Son of Tham Duong Commune expects to harvest 1.5 ton of Khau Tan Don sticky rice this year. Son cuts the rice when its scent prevails to make “com”. Son said.
“When the season comes, we often get up at 5am to cut sticky rice, then select only the young ones to make ‘com”. The rice must be treated immediately; otherwise, the grains won’t be green and sticky”, Son added.
There are several ways Thai Duong residents make “com”. Their specialty dish has a unique flavor with a secret. The young rice is dried over burning charcoal before being plucked and ground manually in mortars to take the covers out from the grains, which are then sieved to collect “com”. Other products apart from “com” made from Khau Tan Don sticky rice have been introduced and given applause.
La Thi Phuong, Chairwoman of Tham Duong Commune’s Women’s Union, told VOV, “Tham Duong Commune has three clubs of 20 members each to make Khau Tan Don sticky rice into ‘com’ and ‘banh chung’ (square cakes). These products made right at the harvest season and generate better profits for local women.”
|Tham Duong women harvest Khau Tan Don sticky rice.|
Khau Tan Don sticky rice fields span 100 hectares in Tham Duong Commune. It is a cultural symbol of the Thai ethnic minority people. Tham Duong authorities plan on integrating Khau Tan Don sticky rice into their tourism services.
Hoang Giang Nam, Vice Chairman of Tham Duong Commune’s People’s Committee, said, “Tham Duong commune will host a ‘com’-inspired festival. We aim to make Khau Tan Don sticky rice a trademark of our community-based tourism.”
Khau Tan Don sticky rice is the first sticky rice all over Vietnam to be given the geographical indication back in 2018. It was recognized as 4-star in the “One Commune One Product” program in 2020.
On a trip to the northern province of Lao Cai, a traveler should taste the five-color steamed sticky rice in the province’s Bac Ha District, about 90 kilometers from Lao Cai City, the province’s capital.
In early September, the terraced rice fields are turning yellow across the districts of Sa Pa, Bat Xat and Si Ma Cai in Lao Cai,