Bánh trôi tàu – A warm Vietnamese dessert for a sweet tooth

If you find yourself wandering on the streets of Hanoi on a late winter evening, a short stop at a “Bánh Trôi Tàu” vendor is much-needed to warm your body up in the stinging cold weather. Being lesser-known to tourists than bánh mì or other kinds of noodles, yet bánh trôi tàu is a favorite street food of the residents of Hanoi when chilly breezes sweep through the city.

Bánh trôi tàu (stuffed sticky rice balls) is different from bánh trôi nước, as the first one originated in China and is eaten hot while the latter is a Vietnamese traditional dish and is eaten when cooled down. The rice balls are stuffed with either black sesame seeds fillings or mung bean paste fillings before being boiled until done. However, the secret to a perfect bowl of bánh trôi tàu, however, lies in the sweet soup that the rice balls are served with. This sweet soup is made of water cooked with brown sugar and sliced ginger until it thickens, mixed with a bit of coconut milk when served in bowls. A portion of bánh trôi tàu should have two to three rice balls covered in sweet soup and decorated with shredded coconut and crushed peanuts on top.

The savor of bánh trôi tàu comes not only from the food itself but also from the cozy ambiance of the food stalls that sell it. If you are seeking some pleasant warmth on a winter night, it is best to try this dish at a small store or a food vendor on a quiet corner of the streets, observing the tranquil nightlife of Hanoi as the gingery warmth of the dish gently spreads through your body. Take a bite of the chewy rice ball, sip a bit of sweet soup and experience the rich tastes of this delicacy: the mild sweetness from brown sugar, the freshness from sesame and mung beans fillings, the light touch of spiciness from the ginger-infused soup, and the lingering aroma from coconut milk. Bánh trôi tàu is no longer just a traditional dish, but rather an indispensable part of Hanoi cuisine. Considered one of the Hanoi delicacies with a very reasonable price, it is worth a try if you happen to visit the city during these cold days.

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If you haven’t had plan to travel in Hanoi yet, follow these instructions to make yourself a delicious bowl of Bánh trôi tàu at home:

Ingredients: Sticky rice, black sesame, green beans, roasted peanuts, white sugar, fresh ginger, kumquat peel, coconut milk, grated coconut bowl.

Recipe:

  • For the finely pounded green beans, white sugar, a little salt, and a bowl of grated coconut, mix well. Mix until homogeneous, then roll into round balls to make the cake drift.
  • Put the ground peanuts and sesame in the pot and boil for about 5-7 minutes into a smooth, slightly wet mixture. Remove and also round into balls.
  • Put the filling in the dough and shape it into a cake. Drop the cake into the pot of boiling water and immediately remove it from the cold water when the cake floats.
  • Place the cake in a bowl, pour the sugar water over it and add the grated coconut.

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