For those who might not know, Vietnamese green rice is a delicious and passionate snack that is popular in the cuisine of the Northern Delta and especially in Hanoi. If you have the opportunity to walk the streets of Hanoi on autumn days, it is not difficult to find stalls selling this specialty. Vietnamese young green rice has piqued the interest of many foreigners when coming to Vietnam, so let’s learn more about it through the information below:
I - What exactly is Vietnamese green rice?
Cốm is a special creation of Vietnamese - Source: cooky
As its name suggests, Vietnamese green sticky rice is made from young glutinous rice, which is roasted and pounded, then cleaned by sieving to remove all impurities. Traveling to Hanoi in autumn, you can easily see vendors selling this specialty wrapped in lotus leaves, filled up the baskets with green packages. According to folklore, this dish originated more than a thousand years ago, when heavy rain flooded all crops and brought famine. Having no choices, the farmers had to pick up the remaining young rice grains and roast them to eat, accidentally creating a unique and delicious food.
The best Vietnamese green rice is often made from young glutinous rice harvested around the end of summer and early autumn (July - September of the lunar calendar), especially in the North. There are also some other places where rice can be harvested from the 4th - 5th lunar month, but perhaps because the weather is still hot, the product is said to be not as delicious as in autumn. The ethnic minorities in Vietnam also have similar types of green rice, typically the Tay in Yen Bai Province, the Muong, the Thai in Phong Tho District, Lai Chau Province, and especially the Khmer community with flat green rice.
There are many types of sticky rice that can be made into Vietnamese green rice, which are harvested and threshed, sieved to remove the straw and flat grains, and washed with water. Then it is roasted in a pan over low heat and stirred continuously, often a cast iron pan, and standard stoves have to be covered with coal slag and burned with wood. After cooling, the makers put a batch of about a few kilograms into the mortar and pound 6 - 7 times, while filtering out the husks. The finished product will be wrapped in Alocasia macrorrhizos leaf and a lotus leaf, tied with bamboo rope.
II - How to cook Vietnamese green rice?
1 - Vietnam green rice & banana
Bananas and Vietnamese green sticky rice by themselves are attractive enough, but when they are combined, they become even more delicious and memorable. Bananas must be well-ripe ones with dark speckled skin, and the Vietnamese young green rice must be early-season, soft and fragrant, with a beautiful jade color. Bananas are broken in half or cut into small pieces, dipped into the green rice and then slowly chewed. The sweetness of Vietnamese bananas blends with the supple taste of com and the faint scent of lotus leaves, making you feel like autumn is spreading in your mouth.
2 - Vietnamese green rice sweet soup
Green rice sweet soup - Source: savourydays
As one of the most famous Vietnamese sweet soups, green rice sweet soup is a dish containing all the deliciousness of young rice grains, the autumn feeling of Hanoi and the ingenuity of the makers. Young green rice sweet soup is fairly easy to make, with simple ingredients including tapioca flour, sugar, a little pomelo essence and green rice (usually harvested at the end of the season).
After boiling sugar water with tapioca flour and stirring continuously until there is a certain consistency, you sprinkle the green rice and a little pomelo essence in, scoop it out into a bowl and add jelly or ice if needed. The green rice is sweet but a bit hard, making the Vietnamese green rice sweet soup bowl not too sweet or mushy, mildly chewy and very satisfying in the mouth.
3 - Fried ground pork with Vietnamese green sticky rice
This is a typical dish of Northern Vietnam, which is a combination of lean pork - the best is the lean shoulder with a bit of lard, and Vietnam green rice which is usually harvested in the middle of the season. Lean meat is pounded, mixed with green rice and spices, molded into flat round pieces and steamed, then fried in a fat pan until beautifully golden. The aroma of the Vietnamese green rice and the smell of fried meat are very attractive. Fried ground pork with green rice is often eaten with bun or rice, sometimes even steamed rice rolls.
4 - Young green rice cake
Young green rice cake is a Hanoi' specialty - Source: halotravel
Green rice cake is sold all year round and hence often bought as a gift by tourists. The green rice is mixed with water in a certain ratio, stirred over the fire, or steamed and mixed with a little sugar, and filled with green beans. This ingredient is steamed, pureed, then sugared and simmered again, adding grated coconut and pumpkin or lotus seeds. When Vietnamese green rice cakes reach your hands, they still have the smell of fresh, flexible, and fragrant Vietnamese young green rice, square-shaped to represent the earth and green colored to represent the taste of the Vietnamese countryside.
5 - Steamed Vietnamese green sticky rice
This dish is made from green rice at the end of the harvest season, whose grains are usually large, thick and a bit hard, cooked with crushed lotus seeds and a little white sugar. Vietnamese people also add some green beans when cooking steamed green sticky rice. The aromatic plasticity and eye-catching green color of Vietnamese green rice are harmoniously combined with the yellow color and fleshy taste of green beans, as well as the white color and the sweetness of grated coconut.
6 - Flat young green rice mixed with flexible coconut
This is a rustic dish that Vietnamese people have created and are loved by locals. Flat rice mixed with coconut is characterized by the delicious flavor of nuggets with natural green color, sweet and bar flavor that accentuates the pure white grated coconut fibers. This is a snack not to be missed on the menu of the team that loves soft and sweet without being mushy or crushed, with a green and glossy color. If you want the Vietnamese green rice mixed with flexible coconut to have a nicer and darker green color, you can add ground pandan juice and cook it with coconut milk.
After being incubated for 15 minutes to infuse the spices evenly, the green rice can be rolled into bite-sized balls, mixed with coconut milk to ensure they are not crushed or mushy. It is often decorated by putting in a lotus leaf and wrapping it, adding the fragrant lotus scent to stimulate the taste buds of the audience. Flat young green rice mixed with flexible coconut is often used as a breakfast or as a snack, very suitable and delicious that can satisfy the most demanding guests.
III - What are the popular types of Vietnamese green rice?
1 - Vong village green rice
Green rice from Vong village - Source: dacsanthanhnam
This type of Vietnamese green sticky rice is a typical product of Vong village in Dich Vong Hau Ward, Cau Giay District, Hanoi City. Vong village is said to be the origin of this specialty, unique with its softness, rich aroma, and sweetness, bringing a lightness that sums up the essence of autumn in the capital. Green rice of Vong village is made from glutinous rice with yellow flowers, giving round, glossy and smooth grains, the most delicious harvested in the period from July to October. Because of the development of society, Vietnamese green rice from Vong village has slowly disappeared and no longer have endless rice fields. Coming here, you can still stop by a few houses still keeping the craft to chat and buy some green rice as a gift.
In Hanoi, there is also Me Tri green rice from Me Tri Village, Me Tri Ward, Nam Tu Liem District which is equally famous, although thinner and not as flexible as Vong village’s. Visiting this place, you will surely be mesmerized by the idyllic village space, the fresh air echoing the sound of the pestle pounding the Vietnamese young green rice, and the smoke coming out of the fragrant cooked batches.
2 - The flat Vietnamese green rice of Khmer people
Cốm from Khmer - Source: comdep
The Khmer in Tra Vinh Province and Soc Trang Province have their own way of making green rice, using young rice grains to dry in the sun, soak in water, take them out, drain and roast in an earthen pot. The roasted glutinous rice then is poured into the old rice mortar that was deeply carved to the pound by two people, using tools made from the trunk of the old milkweed tree. You have to come here and join the Khmer people to fully feel the effort that was put into making this traditional specialty. The type of Vietnamese green rice they got after this process is flat, and beautifully shaped that is neither hard nor mushy or crushed.
Before eating, this type of Vietnamese green sticky rice is always mixed with sugar and coconut, sprinkled with a little coconut milk to soften, and added a little salt to taste, then let absorb for about 2 hours. Today, some Khmer families also add pounded peanuts to increase the fatness, but the most delicious is still eating the green rice alone like in the traditional way. This way of eating still appears in the Ok Om Bok festival (the ceremony of offering to the moon and praying for good crops).
3 - Phan Thiet roasted rice - a valuable type of Vietnamese green rice
A specialty in Phan Thiet City - Source: 2dep
This specialty of Phan Thiet city is made from delicious roasted glutinous rice, sugar, pineapple and ginger. Sugar is boiled with pineapple and ginger, added green rice and stirred for about 20 - 30 minutes, then poured into molds. They are dried 1 - 2 times in the sun, then taken out and wrapped in colored, patterned paper, or cellophane. Phan Thiet roasted green rice is quite cheap, can be kept for up to 3 months. When eaten, they are cut into 4 or 6 pieces, giving a sweet taste of green rice and sugar, a sourness of pineapple and a little bit of spiciness from ginger.
4 - Phong Hau sticky green rice
Vietnamese green rice from Phong Hau village - Source: mia
As a specialty no less than Vong village green rice, Phong Hau sticky rice is one of the bright spots of Phong Hau village, Phu Yen province, indispensable on holidays in the South Central coastal provinces of Vietnam. Unlike the Northern green rice, which is made from young sticky rice while its green color is still intact and carefully wrapped in lotus leaves, Vietnamese green sticky rice from Phong Hau village is made from ripe glutinous rice and served with a cup of green tea.
The processor mixes the green rice with sugar and water in a basket, rubs it until the dough is very porous, puts it in the mold then takes it out and roasts it. If the Vietnamese green rice is well made, it will bloom like a flower, otherwise, it will be burnt and dry, or be too watery if there is too much sugar. Although Phong Hau village today has only about 20 families making green rice regularly, it is still the main occupation and recognized as a traditional cultural feature. Visiting this village on the journey to discover Phu Yen, you can certainly participate in the process of making sticky green rice.
5 - Vietnamese young green rice from Tu Le village
Tu Le green rice - Source: vinmart
Said to be a delicious Vietnamese green rice no less than Vong village’s, this type originates from the Tu Le village, Van Chan District, Yen Bai Province, and usually appears in August - September. The type of Vietnamese green rice from Tu Le village has large, round and flexible grains, sweet and cool taste, not flattened so it is different from the green rice of Vong village. To make a delicious batch, Tu Le people harvest young rice right at the moment when the tops still have the flavor of milk and roast them immediately to preserve the taste. This type of green rice is often used to make other dishes such as sweet soup, stir-fry, or sticky rice, but not suitable for immediate consumption like Vong village’s green rice.
It is said that the delicious flavor of Vietnamese green rice in Tu Le village comes from the fact that this land has received many favors from nature. This land of more than 3000ha in Yen Bai Province has a cool year-round climate, with clear natural hot mineral springs flowing from the top of the pass. The stretching rice fields of Tu Le give a gentle, beautiful, and delicate feeling, filled with the fragrant rice scent.
For generations, Vietnamese green sticky rice is a rustic and idyllic specialty that is strangely ethereal. Its elegance comes from both the way it is made and the way to enjoy it, which makes the sweet aroma of this “heavenly pearl” more deposited. Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy Vietnamese green rice and other attractive dishes made from this ingredient, then buy them as gifts for family or friends on your holidays in Vietnam.