Apart from specialities such as Vinh oranges and eel vermicelli soup, Nghe An Province is also famous for its bánh mướt (rice roll) cake thanks to its unique flavour.
Different from rice rolls in the north, bánh mướt is made of a special rice variety named Vê in the province’s Quynh Luu District and can be eaten with beef soup or chicken soup, but local people prefer it with pig’s tripe.
Nguyen Thi Nguyet, 60, recently returned to the province from Germany and said she always missed the dish while living abroad for almost 40 years.
|Nghe An's bánh mướt (rice rolls) can be eaten with pork paste. Photo baoquocte.vn|
“I still remember the tastiest and delicious dish made by makers in Quy Chinh Village of Nghe An's Dien Chau District," she said, adding that her home was one kilometre from the So Market where her mother often bought the dish home.
“The image of my mother returning home bringing us the cake wrapped in fresh banana leaves always moved me,” Nguyet said, adding that she loved to dip the dish in a bowl of fish sauce mixed with a bit of lemon juice, minced garlic and chilli.
Phan Thi Hang, 70, who has been making the cake with her mother since she was young, said her mother’s cake was the best seller in the district for years.
|The cake is most tasty when being eaten with pig's tripes soup. Photo wecheckin.vn|
But one day many eaters commented that her cake was sourer than before.
Hang’s mother was very worried and tried to find out what had happened.
“Seeing her stressing all day long, I was very afraid but bravely tried to confess to her in tears that I poured several bowls of congee in the wet rice powder,” she said, adding that her mother simply asked her not to do it again.
“We should always be careful to try to keep our dish’s quality and prestige among customers,” her mother said.
The ingredients to make the cake should be carefully chosen. In the past, they bought Vê rice from Quynh Luu District which was fragrant and kept the cake crispy.
|Bánh mướt eaten with eel soup and fresh herbs are very enjoyable. Photo wecheckin.vn|
But as the rice variety no longer exists due to low productivity, bánh mướt makers have to use rice named Khang Dan which is not too soft and not too hard, Hang said, adding that other ingredients include fresh and dried onions, chilli and pig’s tripe, which should be fresh, pink and from a pig raised without the use of chemicals.
To have a quality cake the rice should be soaked in water for three hours before grinding it into wet powder which should soak for another three hours before being cooked.
Making the cake needs skills to stop it from becoming too thin or too thick. After the cake is done to a turn, the cooker uses a big flat bamboo chopstick to take the cake out of the cooking pot, roll it well and put it on fresh banana leaves in a flat basket, said Hang.
“We have to wake up at 4am to make the cake until 5 or 5:30am then we bring it to the market to serve our customers,” she said, noting that her cakes sell out by 7am.
Hang recalled in the past they had to grind the wet powder in a stone mortar. “It took us nearly five hours at night to grind 20kg of rice. Sometimes we had to work until 2am the next day.”
|Apart from pig's tripes, many people prefer to enjoy the dish with fried spring rolls dipping in a sweet and sour sauce made of many ingredients such as vinegar, lemon, minced garlic, chili, sugar and others. Photo @boyvietnamese 777|
In modern times with electricity available, their job is easier but Hang said every year she has only three days off at Tet (Lunar New Year).
“During the last days before the Lunar New Year comes, we have to work very hard to supply increasing demands because we receive a lot of orders from locals and people from surrounding areas. They buy the cake to eat at Tet instead of bánh chưng (square cake),” Hang said.
Le Thu Thuy comes from Nghe An and lives in Hanoi and said she has been addicted to bánh mướt since she was a little girl so she often orders the cake from Hang to enjoy it.
“My family members, relatives and friends also enjoy the dish so much,” she said.
Overseas Vietnamese Nguyet told Việt Nam News that almost all Nghe An people living and working abroad fondly remember their year-end parties with family members.
“We particularly miss the dish eaten with pig’s tripe soup so much," she said.
Source: Vietnam News
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