Banh chung is an essential dish for Tet, the largest national holiday in Vietnam. It is made with glutinous rice, mung beans, and fatty pork. In Nghia Trung Ward, Gia Nghia City, Nguyen Thi Lan’s family is busy cooking about 1,000 banh chung every day. Lan is in charge of preparing the fillings, while her son, Ngo Si Nam, washes the sticky rice and ties the banh chung with bamboo strings. Lan’s daughter, Ngo Thi Phuong, prepares the stachyphrynium placentarium leaves for wrapping the banh chung. The other family members also contribute to the cooking process. Lan’s family has been making banh chung since 2007 and the number of cakes they produce has been steadily increasing each year. For the upcoming Lunar New Year festival in 2024, they plan to make 15,000 banh chung. They have already prepared six metric tons of sticky rice, mung beans, and bamboo strings. Lan’s banh chung has gained popularity and is now being shipped to different cities across Vietnam.

Pork and mung beans are put onto sticky rice to make ‘banh chung.’ Photo: Tuoi Tre

Despite the hard work, Lan and her family are happy to be making banh chung. Some of her clients even praise her for being able to wrap banh chung without using a square mold. Lan’s banh chung can be consumed within two weeks and is highly sought after in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, and Da Nang.

‘Banh chung’ are arranged inside a pot for cooking. Photo: Tuoi Tre
After being cooked, ‘banh chung’ are fished out of a pot. Photo: Tuoi Tre