Vietnam loves rice whether it is served sticky in its original form or made into noodles to add to famous things like Pho, a soup that is the number one breakfast dish in the country.Rice is grown nationwide as those on holiday in Vietnam will see. The Mekong Delta on the South West of Vietnam is the major producer and certainly tourists on a typical Vietnam tour package are likely to visit the Mekong and see village farmers working in the fields. Likewise, the Northern Highlands above Hanoi towards the Chinese border is a regular on many tourists’ itineraries. The SaPa Terraces are a sight to behold. They are initially flooded and simmer in the sunlight but as the rice shoots come through, they change to green and finally gold at harvest time. Depending on when your Vietnam travel package is booked you will see the rice at different stages. The final produce is used in many ways and a very popular dish that tourists from abroad should sample is a rolled rice pancake (banh cuon) that people eat throughout the Country.
Variety and Process
There are distinct regional variations between North and South. In the South, the pancakes are not stuffed with pork whereas in the North, pork is a usual ingredient together with the rice starch, tapioca, and cold water. As well as pork, the filling is likely to contain shrimps, spring onions, fungus, bean sprouts and ham. When it comes to the seasoning that should include fish sauce, lemon and sugar, chili and basil.
Each of the ingredients of the filling is prepared with the cleaned prawns and pork minced together and marinated in the other ingredients. That marinated meat is then fried with onions fried separately until they become golden.
Meanwhile the rice and tapioca is steamed into a smooth paste with a little then spread into a pan before some of the filling mix is laid on top and the pancake is rolled. You repeat the process until all your mix is finished. The sliced ham is a garnish and the pancakes can be eaten with a variety of different dips to the taste of the family or the choice of diners.
Banh Cuon is adaptable. Some Vietnamese will eat rolled rice pancakes for breakfast while others prefer them as a late at night snack. Real lovers of Banh Cuon may eat then morning as well as night. Typically, these pancakes are eaten with a fish sauce broth with lime or with sausages, including a cinnamon sausage called Cha Que.
If you are in Hanoi during your holiday in Vietnam, Banh Cuon is served in Thanh Van, a short distance away from Hang Da Market. You can watch the experts making these pancakes before sampling them for yourself. It is a small place with just a few tables but open for morning trade, closed during the afternoon but then open again at night. You can enjoy the Market at the same time.