During the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) festival, instead of enjoying the traditional chung cakes with traditional flavors from glutinous rice, mung beans and pork, you can also enjoy extraordinary vegetarian chung cakes.
They are made with fragrant glutinous sticky rice with tastily rich gac fruit flavor and the aroma of crystalized candied winter melon, or fragrant pandan leaf flavor mixed with the sweet taste of pumpkin and lotus seeds. A piece of vegetarian chung cakes also helps us savor the Tet flavor.
Vegetarian chung cakes with gac fruit flavour, with the cake-filling made from mung bean paste, crystalised candied winter melon and raisins.
Talking about how to make vegetarian chung cakes, artisan Tran Tuyet Mai, who has a long-time tradition of making chung cakes and xoi (steamed sticky rice) of Tuong Mai village, Hanoi, said that in the past ten years, many families like to order vegetarian chung cakes as offerings to ancestors and to enjoy during the Lunar New Year.
Vegetarian chung cakes have two tastes that can easily satisfy customers, including vegetarian chung cakes made of pumpkin and lotus seeds, and also gac fruit flavor chung cakes with mung beans and watermelon jam. During Tet, many also want to have vegetarian chung cakes with a few raisins or cashew nuts for a rich flavor on Tet.
Mai also created different vegetarian chung cakes with pandan leaf flavor in another recipe. With this kind of cake, glutinous rice is soaked in pandan leaf water to create an attractive green colour for the cake. Pumpkins are steamed and then finely ground and kneaded into small balls. Pumpkin does not need to be mixed with sugar, just a little white salt is added to keep its pure sweet taste. In addition, it is also necessary to choose quality lotus seeds and winter melon jam to mix with the pumpkin into cake-filling.
Vegetarian chung cakes can be wrapped in dong leaves, or banana leaves if dong leaves are in shortage. Because vegetarian cakes are made in smaller sizes, at only about 300gr, the time needed for boiling the cakes is also shorter. However, when boiling, attention should be paid on the level of water, as, if the water runs out, it should be supplemented immediately to ensure that the cakes are not burnt. Well-cooked and boiled vegetarian chung cakes can keep for several days.
Young people also like to learn how to make vegetarian chung cakes.
On the occasion of Tet holiday, Mai is always busy with orders for vegetarian chung cakes and traditional xoi gac, especially from the full moon day of the last month of the lunar year, until the 28th and 29th day of the month, even until the last day of the year if the orders are huge. Customers often order both kinds of vegetarian chung cakes, perhaps because they want to enjoy the various flavors of this cake.
The story of Tran Tuyet Mai's vegetarian chung cakes is also filled with memories of a difficult period and also bears traditional values in a dish that harmonizes colors and flavors. Certainly, vegetarian chung cake is worth-tasting for many people during the traditional Tet holiday.