After nearly two months of standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic, villagers from Me Tri trade village are returning to their traditional job of making com or young glutinous rice as Covid-19 restrictions have been eased.
Visitors who come to the village these days will hear the familiar sounds of the rice mills, the pounding of the pestles, and the laughter of the young rice artisans.
Com or young rice is a specialty of Hanoi whenever the Autumn comes to town. The century-old trade has been practiced by the people of Vong Village in Dich Vong Hau Ward, Cau Giay District, and Me Tri Village in Me Tri Ward, Nam Tu Liem District.
The Hanoi specialty is only produced twice a year, each time lasting around two months, after the Spring and Summer rice harvests. The spring young rice season generally falls in late March to early May, while the Summer season lasts from October to late November.
Local farmers said that the young rice that is produced in late Autumn in Hanoi is the most fragrant and delicious.
As Autumn approaching, local villagers buy rice from surrounding villages to make com.
Making com is very hard and meticulous work. Firstly, good rice is selected, then thrashed, sieved, and washed in large washers to eliminate the thin grains that float on the surface. Then, the rice is dried in a large iron pan over a wood fire. After that, com is pounded by machines.
The glutinous rice suitable for the elaboration of the specialty must be the one that is about to ripen and still contains the rice milk and is fragrant.
Huu Sy - an owner of a production facility in Me Tri shared that in order to make delicious and fragrant young rice, the raw material must be carefully chosen. The glutinous rice must be the Nep cai Hoa vang or special round-grain glutinous rice.
"It must be roasted over a wood fire with proper heat so that the grain still retains its green color, fragrant, chewy, and tasty,” Sy said.
From every ten kilograms of sticky rice, only about two kilograms of young rice are made.
Nowadays, the process of pounding rice is done by machine, which greatly reduces the time and effort of the artisans.
Each household in Me Tri village can produce 70 tons of young rice per crop.
Through many ups and downs of history, the traditionally renowned craft of making young rice in Me Tri Ward, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi is still well preserved and developed.