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How to Make Mini Bánh Chưng


Mini Bánh Chưng

Vietnamese Tết Square Sticky Rice Cakes

Recipe by Alynn Nguyen & Trami Cron



Prepping Time: 1 hr

Total Cooking time: 1.5 hr

Yields: 25 Mini Bánh Chưng


Ingredients:

1 bag (12oz) dried pre-peeled mung beans, rinse to remove any dust

6 cups sweet rice, rinse and drain

1 lb pork belly, cut into 1.5 in x 1.5 in, ½ in thick slices

2 bags banana leaves, defrost if needed

1 cup shallots, thinly sliced

3 tbsp vegetable oil

5 tbsp and 2 tsp sea salt

5 tsp whole black pepper, coarsely crushed


Equipment: 25 stainless steel square molds (3.15” square diameter with pushers if available) Twine, string or plastic chords, cut into yard-long lengths Pressure cooker

Prepping Instructions:

Marinade Pork:

In a small bowl, mix together pork belly, 2 tsp sea salt, 2tsp black pepper.

Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.


Beans and rice:

  1. In a small pot, heat up oil; wait until it’s hot, but not smoking, add shallots. Quickly stir until they are slightly golden. Remove from heat and let cool in a clean bowl.

  2. Drain beans and place in a clean bowl, add 2 tbsp salt, fried shallot and mix evenly.

  3. Drain rice and place in a clean bowl, add 3 tbsp sea salt and mix together.

Banana leaves:

Clean banana leaves thoroughly. Wipe off excess water with a towel.

Cut wide strips of banana leaves into 3.15 in. strips. Keep the length of the leaves as is. (Need 100 strips)

Cut thin strips of banana leaves in 1.5 in. width (Need about 50 strips)


Assembling Bánh Chưng:

Step 1:

  • Use 1 square mold per cake. Place one wide leaf strip at the center of the mold, with the greener side facing down.

  • Then place the second wide leaf strip in the center of the mold like a cross, with the greener side facing down.

Step 2:

  • Place one thin leaf strip with greener side in along the walls of the mold, add a second thin strip if needed to completely cover the inside of the walls. This will ensure water will not come in contact with the cakes while they are being cooked and ingredients don’t fall out.

Step 3:

  • Repeat step1 with the greener side facing up this time.

Layering ingredients:

  • Place 2-3 tbsp of rice inside mold, press evenly with a spoon.

  • Place 2 tbsp of mung beans, spread evenly.

  • Place pork 2-4 pieces of pork in the center. Skip this part if you want a vegan version.

  • Place 2 tbsp of mung beans, spread and press firmly with a spoon.

  • Place 2-3 tbsp of sweet rice, press the cake with mold pusher down firmly.

  • Fold leaves in alternately to form a tight seal, cut any excess banana leaves if needed.

  • Remove the cake from the mold, use the plastic strip to tie the cake like a cross, and then a bow at the center. Do not tie too tight as the rice will expand during the cooking process. Place the tied cake back in the mold to be cooked.


Cooking:

  • Place the cakes with molds inside the pressure cooker. It’s ok to layer them on top of each other or lay them on the sides. The molds will help them keep their shapes.

  • Fill water to the top mark as instructed by the pressure cooker.

  • Close the lid, select 45 minutes on “SOUP” mode and press start. Note, it may take the pot a little time to heat up the water so actual cooking time may be 1 hour.

  • Once the timer is done, let the steam release on it’s own (15 minutes) or carefully release the steam before opening the lid as instructed by your pressure cooker, careful to not burn yourself. Remove cakes with long tongs from hot water and transfer them to a cold water bath and let them sit for 5-10 minutes. You can now remove the molds.

  • Wipe away excess water and stickiness with a clean towel.

  • Cakes are ready to be served!


*Bánh Chưng may be wrapped in plastic so they don’t dry out and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freezer for up to 6 months. You can make them in advance with your family, make your own family labels, and give them away as gifts during Tết to carry on this Vietnamese tradition.


Here is a short video so you can see how it's made!



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