Banh chung is a mysterious square package of banana or bamboo leaf that I only see during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Banh chung is a cake of glutinous rice stuffed with mung beans, lean pork and pieces of pork belly. The sticky rice cake is wrapped in banana and/or bamboo leaves and tied with twine.

The dish would be designed by Tiet Lieu, the youngest son of Emperor Hung Vuong VI, which thus received the throne. The king asked his sons to present him the most special dish as a sacrifice to donate to the ancestors and at the same time could please his taste. The son with the best design would be his heir.

The banana leaf gives the sticky rice an unusual aroma and the sticky substance is certainly tasty, I personally do not think Banh chung have a very special flavor. Banh chung to me is more a recognition of the Vietnamese tradition during the New Year days. I don’t consider it a delicacy. During the Tet days the square package lies on the family altar, which is present in every Vietnamese home. My mom doesn’t make Banh chung by herself. She orders the glutinous rice cake a few days before Tet or get them as gifts from family and friends.