Vietnam is a country that is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine. One of the most popular Vietnam dishes is Banh Cuon, a favourite food of Vietnamese by locals and tourists alike for generations. Banh Cuon is a rice noodle roll that is filled with seasoned ground pork or shrimp, wood ear mushrooms, and fried shallots, and is served with a sweet and savory dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. In this article, we will explore the history, preparation, and variations of this beloved.
For many years, Bánh Cuốn (Vietnamese steamed rice rolls) has never stopped to demonstrate its long-lasting perfect comfort food to food lovers. For those are familiar with Bánh Cuốn, it becomes favorite breakfast food. For those have not yet ever try the dish, once taste it, you soon fall in love with its flavor.
1. How to make it?
Starting with a steamed rice roll cooked on a pot, covered by thin fabric, until it is very thin. Then it is scraped off the pot with a flexible bamboo stick. After that, the roll is filled with a mixture of pork, wood ear mushrooms, onions, and fish sauce.
2. History of Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon has been a staple in Vietnamese cuisine for centuries, with its origins dating back to the Hanoi area in northern Vietnam. The dish was initially made by street vendors who would use a large pot to steam the rice noodles and then wrap them around the filling, creating a roll. Over time, the dish evolved, and different regions of Vietnam developed their own unique versions of Banh Cuon, with variations in the fillings and dipping sauces.
Northern-style Banh Cuon
This style of Banh Cuon is the traditional version that originated from Hanoi. It is made with a filling of seasoned ground pork and wood ear mushrooms and is served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, and garlic. The rice noodle rolls are thin and delicate, allowing the flavors of the filling and dipping sauce to shine.
Central-style Banh Cuon
In central Vietnam, the filling for Banh Cuon is typically made with shrimp and pork, and the dipping sauce has a more sour flavor profile. The rice noodle rolls are thicker than the northern-style Banh Cuon and are often served with a side of fresh herbs and lettuce.
Southern-style Banh Cuon
The southern-style Banh Cuon is the spiciest and most flavorful version of the dish. The filling is made with ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms, and is served with a dipping sauce that is sweet and spicy. The rice noodle rolls are thicker than the northern-style version and are often topped with fried shallots and sliced chilies.
3. Preparation of Bánh Cuốn
Banh Cuon is a dish that requires a lot of preparation and technique to make correctly. The rice noodles are made by soaking rice flour in water and then steaming it until it forms a thin, delicate sheet. The filling is made by sautéing ground pork or shrimp with wood ear mushrooms and fried shallots, and then seasoning it with fish sauce and pepper. The rice noodle sheet is then filled with the mixture and rolled up tightly, creating a cylinder shape. The rolls are then steamed for a few minutes until they are cooked through.
4. When and where to eat?
Banh cuon stands to face their rush times during breakfast and dinner, so it is difficult to find stalls still selling the dish in late morning or evening.
Use your better judgment when eating from street vendors, but on average I find that banh cuon carts are some of the cleaner carts on the street, and wearing plastic gloves is a common practice among these vendors. A plate will usually cost between 15,000 and VND20,000 on the street and, if you are afraid of the carts, between 25,000 and VND50,000 in some local restaurants.