Chung Cake is a traditional cake from Vietnam. According to US travel magazine National Geographic, this cake is in the top 10 traditional dishes in the world. It is considered as cultural identity of Vietnam. You can’t talk about Vietnamese Lunar New Year without its spirit – Chung Cake.
1. The legend of Chung cake
This cake comes from a tale which is well known in Vietnam.It was during the Hong Bang dynasty, the sixth Hung emperor wanted to find a successor for his throne. However, he had 21 sons and he did not know how to choose between them. The emperor had the idea to give his throne to the son who satisfies his taste the best. Every son has to prepare food for the emperor. Most princes were looking for the most expensive ingredients to make the cake perfect for the Emperor.
On the contrary, the eighteenth son, Lang Lieu, was not looking at expensive ingredients just as his brothers because he was so poor. One night, he saw an old man with white-silvered hairs in a dream. “Rice is the most precious and valuable of all foods. Go and use glutinous rice. Cook it very thoroughly then mould it into a round rice cake and call it Banh Day. It will be a symbol of the sky you live under. After that do the same for the square rice cake. You stuff cooked bean paste and ground meat in the middle of the square rice cake and call it Banh Chung. This will represent the earth. Present these cakes to your father as offerings to your ancestors.” Having said that, the Fairy disappeared.
Story of Banh Chung and Banh Day
After waking up, Prince Lang Lieu was happy and set out to do exactly what he was told in the dream.The emperor was interested in the cake which was very meaningful and worthy. As a result, Lang Lieu became the new emperor and Chung cake has been a widely known in the Vietnamese customs.
2. How to make Chung Cake?
Here is a receipt to make your own Chung cake for Tet’s holiday. It takes time and requires some peoples.
To make Chung cake your will need:
- Good quality glutinous rice soaked in water 12-14 hours
- Slices of pork, seasoned with pepper and salt, with less fat as possible.
- Soak mung bean during 2 hours to make bean paste
- Dong leaves (big leaves)
- Giang: these are bamboo strings which are the best to make Chung Cake. Soak it in salt or steamed so they make a ribbon which makes it easier to wrap
- A square mold to help you have a nice looking cake
Ingridients to make Chung cake
Now that everything is ready. So what is the procedure?
- Fill the square mold by a half bowl of rice
- Stuff the square mold with mung bean and the pork in the middle of the rice. Then fill with some more rice to make sure it is full at all sides.
- Wrap it in the dong leaves. Tie it with the bamboo strings.
- Put it in a pot and boil it for 12 hours
Wrapping the Dong leaves requires good hands
As you can see, preparing Chung Cake is a long process but this is a way for family to work together and share about their life and so on. Adults are cooking, children play around the fire and grandfathers are telling stories and good wishes for Tet. The relations in the family are getting better with it. It is an agreeable moment that everyone shares. It remains the traditional features of Vietnamese culture.
A family makes Chung cake together
Chung cake is considered as “the taste of Vietnam”. It represents the Vietnamese’s culture over years. Chung cake is a symbol of Tet holiday for Vietnamese. From its history with the emperor to today with the gathering of the family during New Year’s festival, this cake is an important part of Vietnamese culture.