Ant’s egg rice cakes, a Tuyen Quang specialty

'Banh nep nhan trung kien', glutinous rice cakes filled with ant eggs, are a specialty of the Tay, an ethnic group that has existed for hundreds of years in the northern province of Tuyen Quang.


The unique dish is only available in the springtime because that is when black ants reproduce.

To make the cakes, high quality glutinous rice known as khau pet is soaked in water for two hours and then ground into a powder with a mortar and pestle. The powder is kneaded into small balls and filled with a mixture of ant eggs, fried dried onion, salt and peppers. This process must be done carefully to keep the eggs whole.

Next, the dumplings are wrapped in fig leaves. The leaves are picked at just the right age to impart the dish with a special fragrance.

Once wrapped, the dumplings are steamed for 30-45 minutes.

While the dish is full of protein and other nutrients, a diner trying it for the first time should sample a small piece first to make sure she or he is not allergic to the eggs.