söndag 6 januari 2013



Vietnamese Rice Cakes for the Lunar New Year

Makes 5 (6-inch / 9 cm ) cakes – plenty to share with friends and family

5 1/2 cups glutinous rice
1 1/2 cups split yellow mung beans
2 pounds fresh or frozen banana leaves
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
kitchen twine
wooden or metal mold (optional)
Place the rice in a large bowl, cover with water, and let soak overnight. Place the mung beans in a separate bowl, cover with water, and let soak overnight. If using frozen banana leaves, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, drain both the rice and mung beans.
Place the mung beans in a pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mashable, about 20-30 minutes. Mash into a paste with a potato masher or spoon.
Meanwhile, heat the peanut oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and cook the onions until caramelized, about 30-40 minutes.
Add the onions and salt to the mung beans and stir to combine. Spread the mung beans out on a large platter or baking sheet and let cool completely.
Wipe the banana leaves clean with a damp cloth and spread them out to dry. (A laundry drying rack works well; you can also use the backs of chairs.) If the banana leaves are particularly long, you can trim them.
To assemble, lay out two sheets of partially overlapping banana leaves, place a third leaf on top (perpendicular to the first two sheets), and a fourth leaf on top of that (perpendicular to the third sheet). (If using a mold, place it on your work surface first, then line it with the banana leaves in this manner.) Place about a cup of rice in the center of the leaves and spread out to cover a 6-inch square area (about 9 cm), (or to fill the mold). Take about a cup of mung beans and, using your hands, pat it into a slightly smaller square and place it on top of the rice. Then take another cup or so of rice and pack it over the top and sides. Starting with the innermost banana leaf, fold the leaves in one at a time, forming a square. Wrap it tightly like a present so that the contents don't shift or spill during cooking, and tie tightly with twine.
Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the cakes and make sure they stay submerged (a colander or heavy steamer basket can help keep them under water). If your pot isn't large enough, you may need to use more than one. Simmer until the cakes feel plump and the rice is congealed, about 6 hours. Keep an eye on the pot and add more hot water as necessary to keeps the cakes covered.
Place the cakes in a colander to drain and cool completely.
To serve, remove the wrapping and cut into wedges or slices. Bánh chưng are often eaten with pickled onions or root vegetables, or dipped in sugar for a sweet treat. They can also be sliced, pan fried until golden, and served with sugar. They can also be sliced and dipped in Nuoc Cham Sauce.
Refrigerate for up to 1 week.


Che Dau Xanh

Chè Đậu Xanh (Vietnamese Dessert Soup With Mung Beans)

Serves 6

1 cup dried mung beans, soaked for at least 4 hours
5 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
Drain and rinse the soaked mung beans.
Place beans and 5 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, add sugar, and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Turn off heat and stir in coconut milk.
Let cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour.

Banh Xeo

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Crêpes) with Tofu
Makes 2


1/4 cup split yellow mung beans
4 ounces baked tofu, sliced (variation: 2 ounces tofu and 2 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms)
2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
Several sprigs of cilantro
1 cup mung bean sprouts
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Several large leaves of lettuce
Large handful of mixed herbs (Thai basil, mint, cilantro; tiá tô or Vietnamese perilla)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, crushed
For the filling
Cover the mung beans with water and soak overnight or at least 4 hours. Drain. Steam in a basket over simmering water until tender, about 20 minutes.
Prepare the tofu (and mushrooms, if using), scallions, cilantro, and mung bean sprouts and set aside.
For the crêpes
In a bowl, whisk together the rice flour, salt, turmeric, coconut milk, and water to form a smooth batter.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu (and mushrooms, if using) and cook until heated through. Remove and set aside.
Wipe the oil out of the pan and return to medium heat with a fresh teaspoon of oil. Pour half of the batter in the pan and swirl to distribute evenly. Sprinkle half of the mung beans and scallions over the batter. Then arrange the tofu (and mushrooms, if using), cilantro, and bean sprouts over half of the crêpe. When cooked through and edges are browned, fold the crêpe over and slide onto a plate. Repeat for second crêpe.
For the greens
Prepare the greens and set aside. (May be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.)
For the sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce. Set aside. (May be prepared ahead of time kept in the refrigerator.)
To serve
Serve as an appetizer to share or a main dish. To eat, wrap a piece of the crêpe into a lettuce leaf with a few herbs. Dip into the sauce and enjoy!