Tra Cuon cylindrical sticky rice cakes: A Tet speciality

While “banh chung” (a square sticky rice cake) is frequently seen at family meals in Vietnam’s north during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, “banh tet” (a cylindrical sticky rice cake) is found at most family meals in the south. Join us on a tour to Tra Cuon town in Kim Hoa commune, Cau Ngang district, in the Mekong Delta’s Tra Vinh province to find out more.

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Residents of Tra Cuon town in Tra Vinh province have little time to rest as Tet (the Lunar New Year) approaches. They are busy making “banh tet” (cylindrical sticky rice cakes) to meet increasing demand among consumers. The Lunar New Year often sees sales of “banh tet” soar by four or five times compared to normal days.

Unlike regular “banh tet”, which has a green crust, Tra Cuon cylindrical sticky rice cakes are much more colourful. The colours of green, purple, and red are often connected to different ethnic groups such as the Kinh, Hoa, and Khmer, who live harmoniously in the province. Creating such colourful cakes requires meticulous skills.

Tra Cuon town has a 70-year history of making “banh tet” and is now home to seven workshops producing the cakes year-round and several others that open as Tet approaches. “Banh tet” makers not only cling to traditional cakes but also introduce interesting variants for customers, such as “banh tet” with salted egg and mixed fillings.

Though customers now have more options for family meals during Tet, cylindrical sticky rice cakes remain a must-have for families in southern Vietnam. The cake makers in Tra Cuon are striving to pass down the art of making “banh tet” to the next generation, to continue to serve customers and preserve a Vietnamese tradition./.

VNA