The southern province of Soc Trang is not only well-known nationwide for its attractive tourist sites like Nga Nam floating market and Doi Temple, but also for its many food specialties such as banh cong (a traditional hand-made rice cake).
"This Mekong Delta province is a cradle of several popular tasty dishes," said Hoang Thi Chanh, 65.
“The origin of this cake has an aromatic flavour and special fragrance that diners love from the first bite thanks to its buttery taste mixed with the powdery sweetness of green bean, shrimp and pork," she said.
Soc Trang Province is well known for its specialty, locally known as 'banh cong'. Photo dienmayxanh.com
“The cake is a popular dish that lures the interests of masses of people.”
Ingredients for the cake include rice flour, soybean, green bean, shrimp, pork, dried onion and spices.
The cake is also known as cong, due to its origins from the Khmer ethnic minority, said Chanh.
She added that making the cake needs quality rice. The rice should be soaked in water for two days before being ground into a wet powder with a little salt, before continuing to soak for one more day to make the cake’s cover crispy.
The cake is more enjoyable when being dipped in a bowl of attractive and special sauce made of vinegar or lime, Phu Quoc fish sauce, chilli and others. Photo dienmayxanh.com
Chanh said local cake makers often buy fresh shrimps from boats returning from sea. It is steamed while pork is ground.
The cake is more enjoyable when dipped in Phu Quoc fish sauce, made from anchovies, chilli, lime and pepper.
The process of making the dumpling also needs careful techniques. The minced pork, shrimp and marinated green bean are fried with chicken eggs, said Chanh, noting that experienced cooks know how to manage the fire while frying the cake. Often, minced dried purple onion grown in Soc Trang’s Vinh Chau is put into the mix too, giving the cake a special fragrance.
Ingredients to make the cake's dumpling include green bean, pork, shrimp and others. Photo dienmayxanh.com
Banh cong is also used on alters to worship ancestors on the occasion of Tet and death anniversaries.
The cake is more enjoyable when eaten with fresh vegetables such as lettuce, mint leaves, basil, fish mint, and cabbage dipped in sour and sweet sauce.
“You can cut the cake into pieces and use these herbs and vegetables to wrap it before dipping. Doing so would give you an enchanted manor and an attractive experience you will never forget,” Chanh said.
A plate of fragrant and tasty 'banh cong'. Photo dulich.petrotimes
Trieu Thu Hoai, a tourist from Ha Noi, said that among many specialties of the Mekong Delta, banh cong in Soc Trang has a special ranking that helps to bring the province become one of the centres of Viet Nam’s culinary map.
“It is known as nosh, but I can eat the cake instead of rice without being satiated. I like the cake so much,” she said, advising that visitors and travellers to Soc Trang should not forget to enjoy to cake, particularly at its birthplace of Dai Tam Commune, “it will make you completely pleased.”