Banh chung or simply square rice cake is a staple during the Lunar New Year in Vietnam (Tet Festival). In Vietnamese legend, the procedure to make this food was taught by a god to a young Vietnamese man. The cake symbolizes the earth (the green color left by the wrapping of the cake after it is cooked), the heaven (the white sticky rice), and man (the meat and soya beans in the middle).
Co Doanh, my friend’s mom, cooked banh chung for the new year. Making the cake is both labor and time intensive since it takes not less than twelve hours in low flame to cook the cakes, so most of the time banh chung are made in bulk where several families can each have its share of the cakes.
Below are pictures of the procedure in making the sticky cakes taken using a camera phone.
Preparing the ingredients and materials: sticky rice, pork (preferably with fatty portions), soya, salt to taste, leaves of a banana-like plant, and some bamboo strings
Preparing the sticky rice by soaking it in water overnight.
Using four leaves placed on top of each other forming an “X”; placing the sticky rice.
Adding the ground soya and boiled meat.
Wrapping the rice, soya, and pork.
Forming them into squares and fastening the individual cakes using the bamboo strings. They will then be boiled in low flame for at least 12 hours or depending on the number of cakes you want to cook.