Recipe: Vietnamese New Year square rice cakes in the Instant Pot | Banh Chung
This year, I got my banh chung practice in a month early because I was asked to do an interview with Vietnam Television for a Lunar New Year special feature to air around Tet, which is February 16th. After the usual sit-down interview, we shot some B-roll of me making banh chung with Alvin, my partner-in-crime when it comes to Lunar New Year food experiments. Alvin and I attempted banh chung for the first time last New Year’s, and I dare say, our skills have improved vastly since then.
A quick lesson in what banh chung is: for Vietnamese New Year (or Tet), this savory cake consisting of marinated pork belly, mung bean paste, and sticky rice is wrapped and cooked in banana leaves. Traditionally in the North, square banh chung are made, while the Vietnamese in the South tend to prepare the cylindrical banh Tet. The filling is essentially the same, though the leaves used to wrap the cakes may differ. Here in the U.S., though, I wrap my cakes with banana leaves since they are easier to source.
Wrapping the banh chung using a mold the hubs cobbled together
From the taste of the cake to the wrapping to the cooking method, I would say we’ve really stepped up our banh chung game. Ba Noi–Grandma–would be proud.
I decided to employ the pressure cooker this year, making the cooking process much simpler and shorter. Instead of boiling the cakes for 6+ hours or vacuum-sealing the cakes with water for sous vide cooking, I just wrapped the cakes in foil and dropped them in the pressure cooker for 90 minutes on high pressure, then 90 minutes on simmer. And voila! Perfectly tasty, thoroughly cooked Vietnamese New Year square rice cakes!
Today I’m sharing with you my new and improved recipe for savory New Year’s rice cakes. Yes, it’s labor-intensive, but a fun and communal way to get the family and friends together in anticipation and celebration of the New Year. Mexican families have their tamales during Christmas; Vietnamese folks got their rice cakes during Tet.
Foil-wrapped banh chung ready to cook in the Instant Pot
I may at times earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or links to products or services on this website. Your support makes it possible for me to continue providing you with real information and honest content about food and cooking.