Mask, drum and lantern. They are the basic things for a important night in the middle of the autumn. But, there are two important kinds of cake for the night, it is “banh nuong”(grilled sticky rice cake) and “banh deo”( sticky rice cake). They have a common name, it is “moon cake”.
In addition to Tet, Vietnam has also many big days in one year, each day has its own meaning. “Tet trung thu”, Tet in the middle of the autumn or known as Mid-Autumn Festival is one of many big days in Vietnam. It is also called “Tet” but it is not as big as the main Tet in Vietnam, it is smaller. But, it is not less important to Vietnamese people.
It is only celebrate in the middle of the autumn, exactly in the full moon(15th) of August in the lunar calendar. At the night of that day, every one in family will gather to both eat cake and watch the moon in happiness, everyone plays drum, dance and lit lantern or even unicorn dancing.
It can be said “banh nuong” and ” banh deo are two special kinds of cake in Vietnam. Anyone knows and likes them. You want to eat them in normal days, of course you can. They are sold everyday, it is more important at the night. Mooncake is often in a circle (10 cm in diameter) or square (a length of about 7-8 cm), 4-5 cm in thickness. Don’t exclude the larger size, even giant. Besides, It has many other shapes such as: the sow with cub, fish, shrimp, etc.
Mooncakes have two basic part: crust and filling. The cake’s ingredients can include: jam, roasted sausage, green bean, eggs, salt, sugar, cooking oil, animal fat, lotus seed, watermelon seed, etc. Compared with cakes of the West, moon cake is more sweetness. But, the saltiness of salted egg seems to “neutralize” the sweetness of the other ingredients. They can be grilled or eaten immediately. So, mooncake has two kinds: grilled sticky rice and stick rice.
Grilled sticky rice cake is made from wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar water is boiled with malt. After molded with the filling such as : salted egg, roasted sausage, green bean, eggs, salt, sugar, cooking oil, animal fat, lotus seed, watermelon seed,, it will be sweeped a water cover of egg, then grilled in the oven. That water cover of egg will protect the crust of the cake not to burn and create the aroma for the cake. They have to wait for the cake and rotate to prevent burning.
Sticky rice cake is made easier than grilled sticky rice cake. The crust and filling is pre-cooked, or you can see vegetarian cake. The crust is made from roasted wheat flour, grapefruit juice or vanilla and sugar water. After malaxating wheat flour, they put the filling like grilled sticky rice cake inside wheat flour and put into the mold with a little flour to prevent sticking. The cake can be used immediately without going any steps.
When eating mooncakes, of course, the first taste you can feel, it is very sweet. But, salted egg will create another taste in your mouth, like “taste” of the moon. That makes you have a weird feeling. Sitting with members in family, watching the moon, enjoying the wind of the night, laughing together, listening the sound of the drum, seeing the dance of kids, the light of lantern, drinking tea and eating mooncakes. Nothing is better than a night like that.
If you get an opportunity, you can come to Vietnam to eat mooncakes. I’ll have some post about ideal places for you to get “Tet trung thu” in Vietnam. Soon!!!.