This is the most labor intensive dish I have ever made. Happy new year!
This is a Vietnamese dish called bánh tét, and it’s pork belly wrapped in mung beans, wrapped in sticky rice, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed for 6 hours. And, this part is entirely optional but it is how I like it, pan fried. It’s crispy and chewy, sweet and savory, it’s literally everything.
The folktale about it is that the last king of the 6th Hùng Dynasty challenged his 18 sons to create a dish worthy of the ancestors. His youngest and poorest had a dream about this dish and created the bánh chúng, with the rice representing the water, the pork the earth, and the mung bean the sky because it’s yellow like the sun.
Bánh chúng and bánh tét are essentially the same thing except for the shape. Notherners make theirs in a square mold, we southern Vietnamese changed the shape to a roll and I’m not sure why. Probably because it’s more practical?
Anyway, this is what the outside looks like after 6 hours of consant boiling. My tying skills need work.
When it’s unrolled, the banana leaves give the rice this beautiful tea stained green color. And my house smells like tea.
I have spicy pork dumplings that I bought frozen next to it in the top photo. They are nothing in comparison. And I am not making this again for at least another year!