The Tet holiday is not just a single day of a new year celebration but includes weeks of preparation and days thereafter reserved for visiting family and friends to wish them well in the new year. For children this is a great time of the year because a simple new years greeting to an older relative would result in a shiny red envelope of “li xi” filled with lucky new years money.
The final dish of our Tet menu series is banh chung, a sticky rice cake traditionally filled with mung beans and slices of fatty pork belly. The square banh chung symbolizes the earth (since the old conception of the earth was flat) and all the good things that come from it. For the complete story of banh chung and banh day see this post. Banh chung is an indispensable item during tet to be eatened by all as well as to place in front of ancestral alters. It’s eaten with dua mon which are daikon, green papaya, chile peppers, carrots, and leeks pickled with fish sauce. Several varieties of banh chung exist including vegetarian version and sweet mung bean filling version. Another variation of banh chung is banh tet which is shaped in sausage. This banh chung was made by my mom back in Michigan and brought over to us. Our favorite way to enjoy banh chung or banh tet is to pan fry it until the outside sticky rice is crispy and golden brown and the inside is still soft.
We been swamped lately with family matters and have been too busy to post, but over the last several weeks, we’ve been preparing traditional Tet foods..enjoy our virtual feast!