Why Vietnamese Tapioca Dumpling Listed among World’s Tastiest by CNN

Famous for its chewy texture and translucent appearance, Banh Bot Loc - a Vietnamese tapioca dumpling - is a small yet flavorful dish, usually served as a delectable snack throughout the vibrant streets of Vietnam.

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Banh bot loc (Vietnamese tapioca dumpling), a specialty originating from the former imperial capital of Hue, recently has been selected as one of the world’s 35 tastiest dumplings by CNN.

As introduced by CNN, Banh bot loc is a Vietnamese pork and shrimp dumpling with wrappers made from tapioca flour.

When cooked, tapioca flour becomes clear, giving the dumpling its translucent appearance and the wrapper its chewy texture.

The tapioca dumplings are available across Vietnam in two major variations: wrapped in banana leaves and steamed, or boiled.

While the shrimp and pork filling in these dumplings is similar to many Asian dumplings, what sets this apart is its characteristic chewiness. While it shouldn’t be jaw-numbing, the chewy and sticky consistency is a textural delight that you will love.

Banh bot loc can either be steamed or boiled and wrapped with or without banana leaf. With the banana leaf wrapping, it is called banh bot loc la, meaning “clear shrimp pork dumpling with banana leaves.” The banana leaf certainly adds a nice aroma to it but is certainly more time-consuming and requires a totally different method of preparation compared to without a banana leaf.

Without the banana leaf wrapping, it is called banh bot loc tran, meaning “clear flour cake bare.” The filling is traditionally a whole grilled shrimp with the shell on and a slice of pork belly, but variations have had the filling be shrimp without the shell, no pork belly, ground pork, mushrooms, and onions. In addition to tapioca flour, corn starch and rice flour have also been known to be added in the making of the translucent wrapper.

For those who have never been to Vietnam, some of the best foods are not in restaurants, but at food stalls in markets or make-shift restaurants along the street.

Savory and sweet shrimp and pork encased in a translucent and chewy dumpling skin make these some of the best dumplings around. A popular snack food, these scrumptious banh bot loc are completely addicting. The combination of chewy and slippery dumpling skin filled with flavorful meat morsels and then dipped in a sweet fish sauce dipping sauce will have your taste buds jumping for joy.

Some prefer a leaner pork but you can free to substitute with pork belly. Chicken thighs are also a tasty alternative to pork. Optionally, skip the meat altogether and just use a whole shrimp.

Other dumplings on the list were Xiaolongbao (Chinese dumplings steamed in bamboo baskets), Siomay (Indonesian steamed fish dumpling), Hong Kong-style shrimp wonton, kartoffelknoedel potato dumplings in Germany and Japanese gyoza.

Hannah Nguyen