‘Cay’ cake – A specialty of Thai Binh province

Each locality in Vietnam has its own specialty that it is proud of. Visitors to Nguyen or Nguyen Xa village, in Dong Hung district, Thai Binh province are always invited to eat ‘cay’ cake, which is made of glutinous rice well blended with fat and ginger.


Legend has it that in the old days, ‘cay’ cake was made by Nguyen Thi Tan, a daughter of the Nguyen Cong clan, and served only during the lunar New Year. Lady Tan was born in 1724 and was ordained as a mandarin in 1739. She created a new cake with five spices to offer to the King who later named the cake “cay” because it is the colour of a fiddler crab’s egg.

Since then, the Nguyen villagers have made “cay” cake to offer to the King during Tet. The craft of making “cay” cake has been handed down through generations in Nguyen village.

To make a delicious ‘cay’ cake, we need to select the best glutinous rice. We then fry the rice. The cooking and the mixing techniques are very important. While making cake, we need to pay attention to the fire to prevent the cake from getting too wet and crushed. We need to mix the “fiddler crab” paste into the boiling sugar at the right time to get the right taste.

After cooking, all the ingredients are pressed in a mould and cut into pieces. Packing “fiddler crab” paste into a nylon bag for 6 months before using it to make cake will make the cake more delicious. The paste is fried in pork fat until it rises and becomes slightly soft.