Bahn Chung

Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice

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Enjoy this traditional Vietnamese goodness with your family!

Let's start cooking!

Add mung beans to a frying pan with onions

Step 1- Boil and mash the beans

  • Place the mung beans in a pot with just enough water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, then mash into a paste with a potato masher or spoon.
Rice and mung beans on overlapping banana leaves

Step 2 - Caramelize the onions and combine with the mung beans

  • Heat the peanut oil in a heavy skillet over low heat and cook the onions until caramelized, about 30-40 minutes.
  • Add the onions and 1 tsp salt to the mung beans and stir to combine.
  • Spread the mung beans out on a large platter or baking sheet and let cool completely.
Wrap rice and mung beans in a banana leaf parcel

Step 3 - Wrap the cakes

  • Lay out two sheets of partially overlapping banana leaves, place a third leaf on top (perpendicular to the first two sheets).

  • If using a mold, place it on your work surface first, then line it with the banana leaves in this manner.

    If using frozen banana leaves, defrost then wipe the banana leaves clean with a damp cloth and spread them out to dry (a laundry drying rack or backs of chairs work well). If the banana leaves are particularly long, you can trim them.
  • Place about a cup of rice in the center of the leaves and spread out to cover a 6-inch square area (or to fill the mold).

  • Take about a cup of mung beans and, using your hands, pat it into a slightly smaller square and place it on top of the rice

  • Then take another cup of rice and pack it over the top and sides.

  • Starting with the innermost banana leaf, fold the leaves in one at a time, forming a square.

  • Wrap it tightly like a present so that the contents don't shift or spill during cooking, and tie tightly with twine.

Place wrapped banana leaves into a pot with water

Step 4 - Cook the cakes

  • In a large pot of boiling water, add the cakes and make sure they stay submerged (a colander or heavy steamer basket can help keep them under water).
  • Simmer until the cakes feel plump and the rice is congealed.
  • This takes about 6 hours. Keep an eye on the pot and add more hot water as necessary to keeps the cakes covered.
  • Place the cakes in a colander to drain and cool completely.
An easy way to cut the sticky cake is to use a threador dental floss. Some also suggest an oiled knife.

Cut and Serve!

Cooked rice and mung bean in wrapped banana leaf

To serve, remove the wrapping and cut into wedges or slices.

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