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Vietnamese banh chung go abroad

VietNamNet Bridge – Mr. Tran Thanh Toan, who exports Vietnamese banh chung to the U.S. looks like an artist rather than a businessman, with bald head and moustache.

VietNamNet Bridge – Mr. Tran Thanh Toan, who exports Vietnamese banh chung to the U.S. looks like an artist rather than a businessman, with bald head and moustache.

Making banh chung at Tran Gia Company.

Toan, 36, is a married man, with two children. He did a lot of jobs before producing banh chung. He was studying at the Construction Faculty of the HCM City University of Technology when he quit to do "business." The first business is organizing busses to serve students from Bien Hoa (Dong Nai) to Ho Chi Minh City.

Toan recalled about his banh chung making “career” as follows: “I’m interested in art, so I communicate with many of artists, including many overseas artists. They told me that when they come back to the US, they want to have traditional gifts of the homeland.”

"I kept thinking and thinking. The Korean have kimchi. The Japanese have shushi. The Italians have pizza. These cuisines are known around the world! The Vietnamese have banh chung but only the Vietnamese know it while our banh chung is very delicious and unique."

Toan made some banh chung as gifts for some Vietnamese American and received a lot of compliments through emails and letters. He realized that banh chung are not simply traditional cakes but the things that contain the Vietnamese soul, memories and outpouring emotion of the root.

The banh chung can awaken the Vietnamese soul. There is no cuisine that is as spiritual as the banh chung. Eating a piece of banh chung like hearing the boisterous sound of the homeland spring. The Tran Gia Banh Chung Company was established 5 years ago.

Initially, the company was based in the city of Bien Hoa, Dong Nai province. Now it has another branch in Tan Binh commune, Vinh Cuu District, Dong Nai Province, about 10 km from the city of Bien Hoa.

Why is the company named Tran Gia? Toan explained: "My family wishes that in the future our children will pursue this job, to bring Vietnamese Tet to all Vietnamese and foreign people everywhere."

However, it is very difficult for Toan to export banh chung to the US and Europe because in these countries, food must be frozen at - 8 oC if it is sold 24 hours after being process. Vietnamese traditional banh chung cannot meet this criterion.

It is okay for transporting banh chung by air but the transport cost is expensive and the products will have to pass strict quarantine regulations. If it is shipped by sea, the time will be a month.

To deal with these problems, Toan ordered experts of the HCM City Polytechnic University to design a production chain to ensure food hygiene and safety standards the United States.

Accordingly, Phrynium leaves are disinfected by ozone then irradiated with UV. After the banh chung are boiled, using wood, they are wrapped in vacuum bags. These banh chung can be kept in six months and they are ready to use after being cooked by microwave ovens for several minutes.

Toan also exports phrynium leaves, sticky rice and spices to make banh chung.

It is sure that even living very far from home, Vietnamese will be extremely touched when holding banh chung on their hands, which are sent from their homeland.

Banh chung is a traditional Vietnamese rice cake which is made from glutinous rice, mung bean, pork and other ingredients.

Its origin is told by the legend of Lang Liêu, a prince of the sixth Hung Vuong, who became Hung Vuong's successor thank to his creation of banh chung and banh day, which symbolized respectively the Earth and the Sky.

Considered an essential element of the family altar on the occasion of Tet, the making and eating banh chung during this time is a well-preserved tradition of Vietnamese people. Beside the Tet holiday, banh chung is also tasted all year round as a delicacy of Vietnamese cuisine and one of the national dishes of Vietnam besides nem ran (spring roll) and pho (noodle). 

Duy Chien


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