With its rich culinary art, Hue always makes people crave its unique dishes such as Hue (style) beef noodle soup, baby basket clam noodles, thick noodle soup, chicken rice, nem lui, Hue sweet soups. However, surely the list is not completed without bloating fern-shaped cake (Banh Beo), flat rice dumplings (Banh Nam), Hue tapioca dumplings (Banh Bot Loc) as they are considered as the soul of Hue’s cuisines.
HUE TAPIOCA DUMPLINGS
1. The features:
· Hue tapioca dumplings are introduced by a large number of famous media sites such as CNNGO from CNN-America as one of the 30 most delicious cakes in the world
· There are two types: dumplings wrapped in tapioca starch and ones wrapped in banana leaves.
· Often served with a special fish sauce.
2. Variations and Ingredients:
Hue tapioca dumplings are often wrapped either by tapioca starch or in banana leaf. The fillings are traditionally pork and shrimp. However, it can be changed to vegetarian tapioca dumplings if requested.
Tapioca dumpling wrapped in banana leaf/Bánh bot loc gói:
To get this type of tapioca dumplings, only green banana leaves are chosen. Besides tapioca flour, corn starch, salt, and oil are added to ensure the translucent wrapper. This combination then gets mixed and kneaded thoroughly until a smooth, soft, and elastic dough is formed. After being cooled down after a while, the dough is divided into smaller parts and flattened on the leaves. The fillings of shrimps and pork (or vegetarian fillings from tofu, black fungus, and carrots) are placed in the middle. The dough gets folded over the fillings, and the edges pinched together to seal the fillings in, which creates a dumpling-shaped. The dumplings are considered tasty when it is clear after the leaves peeled, and there is no starch left. The resistant starch should be enjoyed with the saltiness from the fillings.
Tapioca dumpling wrapped by tapioca starch/Banh bot loc tran:
Unlike the ones wrapped in banana leaf, the dough, in this case, is made from tapioca starch mixed well with warm water. After that, it gets boiled and divided into smaller balls. Next, it is flattened and shaped into a half-moon to cover the fillings inside. Following this, the dumplings are parboiled in approximately 15-20 minutes before being soaked in oil and green fried onions. Then it is transferred to the serving plates and decorated with pork crackling (not included in vegetarian tapioca dumplings), fried onions, fresh chilies, and served with a special unique sauce.
BLOATING FERN-SHAPED CAKE
1. The features:
· The right way to serve this cake is in a small ceramic bowl attached with a very traditional pattern.
· The cake must be pretty thin and fern-shaped.
· Traditionally, a small bamboo stick is in use instead of chopsticks.
2. Variations and Ingredients
Unlike the tapioca dumplings, the main ingredient for boating fern-shaped cake is rice flour, especially the new ones with the fresh smell of rice. The new rice is rinsed thoroughly, soaked in many hours before being ground. Few glasses of water are added to get a smooth and consistent paste. Or they can use the ones available sold at the market.
A bit of oil is often brushed on the mini bowls to make it easier to separate the cake from the bowls when finished. After preparing the dough, people place the mini bowls inside the steamer, close the steamer lid, and steam on high for 5 minutes. The cake must be steamed under big fire for even well-cooked outcomes; otherwise, it will be unfinished.
The fillings are the fundamental part of the bloating fern-shaped cake. The orange pieces are made from ground shrimp. Shrimps are boiled well, peeled, and ground in completely with the pork. Ground shrimp are cooked on the frying pan until it dries.
The most tasting feature in bloating fern-shaped cakes is the traditionally unique ground shrimp and the special accompanied sauce. This sauce is made from fish sauce, sugar, garlic, chili sauces, and crunchy pork belly strips. The taste of this special sauce is neither too salty nor too bland. It must be a little sweet and smell nice to enhance the fleshy taste of the dish.
HUE FLAT (STEAMED) RICE DUMPLINGS
1. The features
Fillings can come from frog meat specifically designed for malnourished children to improve their health conditions.
2. Variations and Ingredients
Being of the traditional cakes in Hue cuisine, bloating fern-shaped cake is a multi-use purpose in culinary arts and real life. Like other cakes, the cake is normally made from shrimp and pork and changed to vegetarian fillings when it comes to end-of-the-month celebrations. The ingredients of the dough are rice flour mixed well with a few tapioca starches.
The combinations then get seasoned, oiled, and cooked on the stove exactly how tapioca dumplings are made, but more smoothly. The fillings are created far more complicatedly and more detailedly. To be specific, shrimp must be peeled and crushed completely, and the same applies to pork. These pureed shrimps and pork are then mixed with onions, seasoned, and fried. Banana leaves would be basked in the sun for more resistance or parboiled in slightly salted water then let dry. Following this, the leaves are then cut into reasonable slides, oiled up.
When all the preparation is done, the dough is flattened and spread evenly on the leaves. The fillings are then placed in the middle when the 4 sides of the leaves are folded over carefully to form the cake into a rectangular.
The steaming time depends on the thickness of the cake. After being steamed, the dumplings are then left dry and served with sweet and sour chili sauce.
PLACES TO ENJOY HUE CAKES
1. Ba Do
· Address: 8 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Hue City
· Opening hours: 08:00 – 21:30
· Price range: 10.000 VND – 50.000 VND
2. Quan Chi
· Address: 52 Le Viet Luong Street, Hue City
· Opening hours: 08:00 - 22:00
· Price range: 15.000 VND – 35.000 VND
3. Me Le
· Address: 104/17/9 Kim Long Street, Hue City
· Opening hours: 6h00 – 10h00
· Price range: 15.000 VND – 25.000 VND