Monday, 26-09-2022

Banh Chung (Square glutinous rice cake) – Vietnamese traditional cake in New Year

Appear from the 6th of King Hung, Banh Chung – square glutinous rice cake to go abreast with Vietnam national history and became the soul on New Year. The banquet tray welcomes spring today, the green square glutinous rice cake makes it to the memory of square glutinous rice cake, a kind of rice cake conception of the universe of the Vietnamese ancient.

What is Banh Chung

Banh Chung is a traditional dish in the Vietnamese tray, the quintessence that heaven and earth bestowed on people. Square glutinous rice cakes are made from materials rice, green beans, pork, and wrapped in phrynium leaves… Cakes are made in the Vietnamese traditional Lunar New Year of ethnic and on the March 10th Lunar Calendar (the date of King Hung’s death anniversary).

The history of Banh Chung

According to legends, in the 6th Hung Vuong reign, on the occasion of the death anniversary of the ancestors, Hung King gave his children only that whoever found a suitable gift would be crowned by his father. At this time, the princes raced to the forest to go to the sea to find exotic treasures. As for Lang Lieu, his family was difficult, his mother died early, so he did not know what to prepare.

One night, Lang Lieu dreamed of meeting a god who dreamed that “There is nothing in heaven and earth as for precious as a grain of rice. So let’s take the rice and mold it into a circle to represent heaven, and a square to represent the earth, for the merits of your parents’ birth.” Waking up Lang Lieu did exactly as the god said and was surprised when he offered it to his father, he was full of praise. In the end, his father decided to pass the throne to Lang Lieu.

From there, the legend of Banh Chung and Banh Day was born and every Tet holiday. People will cook Banh Chung and Banh Day to make offerings to heaven and earth. And this is the good custom of the Vietnamese people that has been kept until now.

The custom of wrapping Banh Chung on the Tet holiday

The custom of wrapping Banh Chung in our country is associated with a legend from the time of the Hung Kings, carrying traditional cultural values ​​that endure with time. After thousands of years of Northern domination and Western colonial rule, the custom of wrapping Banh Chung to offer to ancestors on New Year’s Day has never disappeared in the minds of every Vietnamese.

The custom of wrapping the Tet holiday has become a traditional culture of the Vietnamese nation, handed down through generations of Vietnamese people, showing the beauty of wet rice civilization. Every time Tet comes to Spring, people and families pack Banh Chung to celebrate Tet and offer them to the ancestral altar.

The legend of “Banh Chung, Banh Day” appeared from the 6th Hung King Dynasty, on the occasion of the Hung King’s death anniversary, he summoned the Lang mandarins (the king’s children) to come and tell him: which Lang mandarin can find the gift. The offerings made to the ancestors that are most compatible with the king will be ceded to the throne by the king. The Lang officials went to the forest and down to the sea to find pearls and precious products to make offerings to the king.

Particularly Lang Lieu was the poorest son among Lang mandarins, he did not find rare products to offer to his father, but immediately used everyday agricultural products including glutinous rice, green beans, pork, and phrynium leaves. to create two kinds of cakes representing the round sky and square earth (also known as Banh Chung and Banh Day) to make an offering to the king. Lang Lieu’s offerings were in line with the will of the Hung King and the king passed the throne to Lang Lieu…

Since then, Banh Chung and Day cake have become indispensable offerings in worship rituals, to express the heart to drink water. remember the source for ancestors, fathers, grandfathers.

In modern society, many traditional customs are gradually lost, but an ancient custom still preserved by Vietnamese people until now and forever after is the custom of wrapping Banh Chung to offer ancestors on Tet. Traditional beauty is indispensable every New Year to spring, when everyone is together by the pink fire of the steaming pot of Banh Chung, expressing reunion, warmth, and reunion.

How to make Banh Chung

Here’s how to make delicious and rich Banh Chung for the traditional Tet holiday.

Ingredients for making Banh Chung

For 5 Pcs
Sticky rice 650 gr
Green beans without skin 400 gr
Pork belly 300 gr


soak the sticky rice

soak the sticky rice

Before making Banh Chung, you will have to soak the sticky rice first. It is best to soak the sticky rice overnight, or at least 4 hours.

You should also soak the sticky rice with galangal or pandan leaves to make the sticky rice green, and at the same time also help the sticky rice be more fragrant. Unpeeled green beans should also be soaked for 4 hours or overnight.


ingredients in a banh chung cake

ingredients in a Banh Chung cake

After soaking the sticky rice, pour it into the basket and let it drain. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt and mix with your hands. Green beans also do the same, you pour out the beans to drain and mix with salt and pepper. Next, Marinate the meat with salt, pepper, and sugar.

Package of cake

best way to make banh chung

The best way to make Banh Chung

To make the cake more square and beautiful, you should prepare yourself a square frame to make the mold.

Next, you arrange 4 phrynium leaves. Arrange the leaves by folding the bottom edge up, folding the left edge over to create a crease for the leaf. Do the same for the remaining 3 pieces of leaves. Then put 4 leaves on the bottom of the mold and pour the sticky rice on top.

You spread the folds evenly in the 4 corners of the mold and leave a concave in the middle. Put green beans in it and then put the meat on and then green beans again. Next, you spread the sticky rice over it, trying to make the amount of sticky rice and green beans evenly on the top and bottom.

Finally, you wrap the cake and tie it with a string. You should also remember not to tie too tightly because, during the cooking process in the pot, the cake will still expand.

Fun fact: Traditionally, Banh Chung is tied with bamboo string (dây lạt) so when served, we can use the string to cut Banh Chung clean into pieces without breaking the sticky rice.(like cutting cheese with floss)

Boil the cake

how to make the banh chung

Place the cake in a large pot and cover with water. The time to boil a small cake is about 5 hours, with a large cake it will need more time.

If you use a pressure cooker, your cooking time will be shortened, only 1 hour. You also need to prepare an additional pot of boiling water so that when the water in the pot is dry, add more water in time. When the cake is boiled for half the time, return the cake and change the water. If you cut the cake, it will be raw, not cooked evenly.

After the cake is cooked, take it out and immediately put it in a pot of cold water to soak for 20 minutes. Then let the cake drain and then use a slightly heavy object to press the cake to squeeze out the water, helping the Banh Chung not be mushy and preserved for a longer time. Squeezing within 5-8 hours is okay.

Finished product

How to eat Banh Chung?

When the baking process is complete, you can store the cake in the refrigerator compartment. When eating, just put the cake in the microwave to warm it up again!

Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Banh Chung, a quintessential dish for celebrating Vietnamese Lunar New Year / Tet

What is the difference between Banh Chung and Banh Tet?

difference between Banh Chung and Banh Tet

difference between Banh Chung and Banh Tet

The most obvious difference that helps ordinary people distinguish Banh Chung and Banh Tet is probably the shape of these two types of cake.

Specifically, Banh Chung has a square shape representing the ground. This is explained through “The legend of Banh Chung and Banh Day” of the 18th prince of King Hung’s son, the famous Vietnamese Lang Lieu.

In contrast, Southern people’s Banh Tet has a cylindrical shape. The reason why Banh Tet has a cylindrical shape is the product of the cultural exchange process of Viet Cham or it can also be the inheritance of the values ​​left by the predecessors. When the Vietnamese began to reclaim and expand the southern land, due to the absorption of religious elements of the Cham culture, including the belief of worshiping the rice god, the Vietnamese residents later created the cake. shit like today.

The reason why Banh Tet of the South is cylindrical is also that the weather in this area is hotter than in the North. Wrapping the cake in a long cylinder is easier to preserve, avoiding mold in the 4 corners like Banh Chung, if mold is present, it is also easier to handle when it is possible to slice the damaged part and throw it away.

Banh Chung in Vietnam Today

Who has experienced Year in old year (in 40-50 years of last century) often remember the traditional New Year with square glutinous rice cake of choice for any distillation from the phrynium leaves, a yellow kind of large-grained glutinous rice, green beans, and bamboo trip. Years of resistance against the American military, to feed liberation army fight the enemy, the North’s people saved up all food for front line then Square glutinous rice cake is simply but value above all others because New Year only green square glutinous rice cake pan. For those who experienced New Year in the Vietnam War, and also during the year subsidy, square glutinous rice cake pan distillation recall their hard memories, difficulty, lack.

Today, for those young people born in the second half after 80 decades of the 20th century, continuing to cook cake on New Year seems just a ritual. 9X generation lives in big cities seem to have no eager bustle feeling in Eve, warm gather-round cake pan with the family. Now, cakes for the Tet holiday are purchased at supermarkets, shops, or through the form of service provision. In the countryside, flavor Tet still feels somewhat the adopt Tet cake pan.

Air on New Year now no longer see the scene of her sisters all turned on the adjacent New Year, which washing phrynium leaves, soaked rice, soaked beans, scene kids eager to sit in facial view parent package cake, scene children and older looked after cake pan overnight, outdoor cold mist, frozen stiff not drowned warm air around the red cooking fire.

For many generations, the square glutinous rice cake is of the joy of New Year together, reunion. The nice cakes, excellent square next to the display table is reserved for worshiping ancestors, small cakes package for small children as a gift early new Year… Traditional Celebration in Vietnam is still there, but few seem to no longer be intact, a tool to cook cake today replaced by pressure cooker or fire gas. Anyway to the New Year, spring, pictures of the square glutinous rice cake, the Ao Dai, or the Red Envelope with Lucky money inside reminding each of us to value ethnic traditions.

This time, the materials to make the cake were still: sticky rice, green beans, meat stuffing, phrynium leaves. Delicious cake to the actual material to prepare thoughtfully, rice thoroughly soaking treatment, green beans cooked to done for a turn, meat including lean meat, packaging, skin, fat mixed enough spice, the finished package must be done immediately boiled new green cake.

For the cake beautiful square, “overdone” package at the right “bean in the rice, the rice leaves, wrapping tightly hand without pressing the leaves still for a saved long time, piece of cake after cutting beans, lean meat should always balanced for in all parts. Traditional New Year pictures of the green cake are the traditional beauty of Vietnamese traditional culture.

Shape through square glutinous rice cake, a kind of rice cake, can not think of the meaning of the word “square circle” in the Vietnamese language. From the original concept of the primitiveness about birth, my ancestor has the first choice of two smart things symbol in the ceremony to worship heaven and earth. Ancestors thought of the harmony of the can: “empty” and “solid”, “square” and “circle”. But different “sun” and “land”, “man” and “woman”, they can be together and maybe the “heaven and earth developed everything” such as the teachings of Lang Lieu spirit.

Square glutinous rice cake reminds Tet or Tet reminds the packed cake. Perhaps, the combination has become the symbol of Vietnamese culture – Square glutinous rice cake is a symbol for Tet. Thus, preparations package cake every New Year to have a beautiful customs in the culture of Vietnam.

Where to buy Banh Chung?

If you do not have the conditions to make your own Banh Chung but still want to enjoy the traditional taste of Vietnam, we would like to introduce some shops or supermarkets that sell traditional Vietnamese Banh Chung:

In the United Kingdom:  Banh Chung Man 1kg | Longdan Official Online Store

Banh Chung mold assist the baker to shape the cake

Buy Banh Chung in Los Angeles, CA

Kien Giang Bakery, Inc.
1471 Echo Park Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Phone: 213-250-0159
Fax: 213-250-9047

Banh Chung Nhu QuynhBuy it on Amazon

My Hiep Bakery: 10483 Bolsa Ave. Westminster, CA 92683

Bánh Mỳ shop: 942 Amsterdam Ave. NEW YORK, NY 10025


About Author

My name is Min Chee, Vietnamese name is Minh Trang. Currently working as an employee of a garment company in Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City. Hobbies are travel and beauty. I love to experience and review new products from cosmetic brands. Now i'm working as blogger for Huy Hoa at the website: Beauty and Travel

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