Dong Binh Griddle Cakes

Located on the outskirts of Tuy Hoa City in the province of Phu Yen, the ancient village of Dong Binh is well known for the traditional craft of making griddle cakes that has existed for hundreds years. It is widely acknowledged that the griddle cakes from the village are more delicious than those from other regions of the country.

Going from Tuy Hoa City about 10km, we arrived in the village that looks like others in the rural areas in the North with clusters of bamboo trees, houses amidst orchards and small roads. However, one can see flat drying baskets of griddle-cakes arranged into layers for drying everywhere in the village and hear dry griddle-cakes crackling under the sun. 

Dong Binh, a 400 year-old village, is famous for the traditional craft of making griddle cakes.

Spreading the batter on the cloth that covers a steaming pot is the most important step that decides the quality of griddle cakes.

Flat drying baskets on small lanes in the village.

We visited Nguyen Ngoc Anh whose family has eight generations engaging in the traditional craft. His five children all know how to make griddle cakes. Anh said: “There are about 130 households with 500 labourors in Dong Binh engaging in the craft. Thanks to secrets handed down by the ancestors, the villagers not only preserve their traditional craft, but also promote and create a prestigious trademark for Dong Binh griddle cakes.”

The griddle cakes from Dong Binh Village are delicious with a translucent white colour because they are made from a special variety of rice that is grown in the fertile fields and the water which comes from an underground water source. To make the batter, it is very necessary to select newly harvested rice with big grains, which are cleaned before grinding. Among the preparation steps, the most important one is to spread the batter on a cloth covering a steam cooker. If the griddle cakes are too thin they will tear when being used, whereas if they are thick they will be tough.

At present, each household in the village produces over 2,000 cakes/day and 2.5000-3,000 cakes/day during Tet to provide customers in Nha Trang or other provinces in the country, such as Gia Lai and Binh Dinh. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Ha, a teacher, said: “We hardly become rich from the craft. However, it helps us to have an extra income. During my free time after teaching in the school, I often make griddle cakes and I can earn about 50,000-100,000VND/day.” 

The griddle cakes in Dong Binh are delicious because of being made from a special variety of rice.

Milling rice to make the flour.

Arranging griddle cakes on flat drying baskets for drying.

Drying griddle cakes under the sun will increase
the cakes’ quality.

Drying griddle cakes in the yard.

Everyone in the village knows how to make griddle cakes.

Enjoying the specialty of the village.

Packaged griddle cakes.
Since 2008, Dong Binh Village has seen great changes when the Association of Griddle Cakes was established to help households in the village cooperate with each other to approach new markets and change production technology to improve the product’s quality and increase the makers’ income. Many households have invested hundreds of millions of dong in an automatic production line that reduces expenditure and labour. The production line has a capacity of 10,000 cakes/day, an increase of ten times more than a traditional furnace and it reduces the use of tonnes of fuel. The Association of Farmers in Phu Yen has also supplied capital for over 100 households who make high-quality griddle cakes and for new technology for three business establishments.

To preserve and promote the development of the traditional craft, Phu Hoa District has a plan to invest, expand some of production workshops, help register the collective label and product code and organize vocational training to improve production capacity.

Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat – Photo: Nguyen Luan