Vietnam is a country known for its diverse cuisines.
Besides well-known dishes such as pho (noodle), bun cha (vermicelli with grilled pork), and banh my (Vietnamese bread) ..., each region, each province in the country has its own specialties. The most outstanding dishes are probably traditional cakes. Belows are traditional cakes with odd names.
1. Gio Cake
Gio cake is made with the main ingredient of glutinous rice soaked in ash water (ie ash from leaves, especially bamboo leaves) and boiled. The Gio cake is now made and sold all year round in all regions of the country. This is also considered a specialty of Bac Kan province.
2. Cong cake
Cong cake is a specialty of the Khmer in southern provinces but cong cakes made by people in Dai Tam commune of the southern province of Soc Trang are the most famous. The cake was previously called Sen or Sai Ca Nai (in Khmer language). However, because the name is difficult to remember, it was later called Cong, referring to the name of the tool used to make the cake – Cong, which is shaped like a coffee cup with a long handle like a soup spoon. Cong cake, after deep-frying, is crispy and has a fairly dark color. Cong cake is often served with fresh vegetables and sweet and sour fish sauce.
3. Cay cake
Cay cake is a famous specialty of Nguyen village, in Nguyen Xa commune, Dong Hung district, Thai Binh province. The cake is made from a number of ingredients such as sticky rice, gac fruit, malt, coconut jam, sesame, and roasted peanuts.
It is called “cay” because its color looks like the egg of cay (a species of red crab). There is a legend that because the cake was delicious, it was chosen by the local official as an offering to the king. The king tasted the sweet and spicy taste of ginger so he asked for the name of the cake, the cake-offering official said it was “banh cay” (spicy cake), so after it was known as “Cay cake”. .
4. Pia cake
Pia cake is actually derived from the moon cake of the Chaozhou people. The original pia cake has only pork and green beans as dumpling and the cake cover includes several thin layers of powder. The word “Pia” comes from the Chaozhou language "pi-é", the Sino-Vietnamese word meaning ‘banh’ (cake). Today, this is considered a famous specialty of Soc Trang province.
5. Uoi cake
Uoi cake is the specialty and pride of Muong people in Hoa Binh province, often called "peeng uoi" by locals (in Muong language, this word has no clear meaning). The cake also has many other interesting names such as love cake, couple cake, or unity cake, ... Uoi cake is made from glutinous rice flour, with two types of dumplings – salty and sweet. The salty cake has dumplings of pork mixing with spices and the sweet one has filling made from a local seeds call “nho nhe” or from green beans.
6. Khot cake
Khot cake is a famous specialty of Vung Tau city in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. There are two ways to explain the name of this dish. One is the popping sound that comes when the cook puts flour into to the pan. Secondly, in the past, poor people only had money to make this cake from bot (flour) only, and gradually it is called "khot". The cake is made from rice flour or tapioca, filled with shrimp or seafood, quail eggs, served with fresh vegetables and sweet and sour fish sauce.
7. Tai cake
Tai (ear) cake is a specialty of the northern province of Phu Tho. In the past, the cake was called "trai cake" because it was shaped as clam (trai in Vietnamese). But later on, people called it “tai” for short. The ingredients to make the cake are quite simple, with plain rice, pork and necessary spices.
8. Gat gu cake
As a specialty of Tien Yen district (Quang Ninh province), gat gu cake is made from rice flour with a similar appearance to pho, rice rolls.
According to local people, in the past, when enjoying this cake, people had to nod their heads to praise the delicious taste. Tthe name “gat gu” (nodding) then appeared.
9. Ngai cake
Ngai cake is made from wormwood leaves boiled in ash water and mixed with rice. It is a famous specialty of the Tay people in Lang Son Province. The cake has a round shape, eye-catching in dark blue with a flexible crust, sweet sesame filling combined with fragrant alum sugar inside.
10. Rang bua (teeth of harrow) cake
Rang bua cake is also called te cake or la cake, but Thanh Hoa people call that name because the cake looks like the teeth of a harrow. This is a traditional cake that is usually made on the full moon day or the Lunar New Year. Its main ingredients are non-glutinous rice, with the filling of dried onion, wood ear, bacon, pepper, and spices.
Bot chien (fried rice flour cake) is one of the most popular HCM City street foods, with its golden crust, soft texture and savoury dipping sauce.
Social distancing measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic have left many people trying to remember what it was like when life was normal.