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Chung Cake (Square Cake) – soul of Vietnamese cuisine

Fri, 17 Oct 2014. Last updated Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:46

Seemingly, exploring Vietnam cuisine is an indispensable part when traveling Vietnam. Only by being lured into sophisticated and cultural bearing dishes of Vietnam cuisine, especially Chung Cake can travelers discover profound local culture.

For all globetrotters, traveling is not simply just going sightseeing, but also is enjoying unique local cuisine of places where they come to. Recently, Vietnam is appealing more tourists to pop in. In Vietnam travel, tourists are attracted not just by its wonderful landscapes and seascapes, but also profound cultural identity and diverse cuisine. One of the most unique and outstanding dishes of Vietnamese cuisine is Banh Chung or Chung Cake.

Wrapping Chung Cake

Chung Cake is a traditional cake of Vietnam. The cake implies gratitude of later generations to their forefather and hometown. Ingredients of Chung Cake include sticky rice, green bean, pork, dong leaves, and other additional spices as salt and pepper. Chung Cake is often made on traditional Tet Holiday of Vietnamese people and Hung King Festival (on the 10th day of the third lunar month). Chung Cake has the oldest history in traditional Vietnam cuisine. It is mentioned regularly in historical documents. The traditional cake has a significant position in the heart of Vietnamese people. The cake originated from a legend relating to Lang Lieu Prince, son of the 6th Hung King. The legend recalls the next generation about the national tradition. It is also a meaningful explanation and origin of Chung Cake, Day Cake in Vietnam culture, simultaneously, the importance of rice and nature in Wet Rice Civilization. According to today popular opinions, along with Day Cake, Chung Cake reflects the ancient Vietnamese people's opinion about the universe. The cake is in green and square shape, which reflects the image of earth in the religion of ancient Vietnamese people and other ethnic groups in Asia.

Boiled Chung Cake

Existing since the 6th Hung King's Empire, Chung Cake has been going with national history and become the soul of Tet Holiday in Northern Vietnam. Once visiting Vietnam during Vietnam Lunar New Year, tourists will see on the feast of local people, there are Chung Cake laid on. These cakes seem to recall Vietnamese people about the legend of Banh Chung and Banh Day which symbolize the opinion bout the universe of ancient Vietnamese people. 

Definitely, in cultural Vietnam tours, travelers have a chance to discover many interesting things about the traditional food. Old Vietnamese people, who underwent Tet holidays between 40s and 50s of the last century, often pine for traditional Tet with Chung Cakes carefully made. Their ingredients were chosen from dong leaves and sticky rice to green bean, thin and small bamboo strips. During war time in Vietnam, to raise troops to fight the enemy, northern people spend out of food for front line. Thus, Banh Chung was simpler, but more valuable than any thing. Those who underwent Tet during war time and subsidy period, Chung Cake evoked unforgettable memories.

Chung Cake

Todays, young generations still inherit and bring the traditional custom into play. Although the young live in big and modern cities, they try to spend time on sitting and waiting for boiling these Chung Cakes, along with chatting with their family. In spite of being sold at supermarkets, stores or other services, in the countryside, the taste Chung Cake is also felt somewhat over the pot of Chung Cake. The present-day atmosphere of Tet still sees the image of Vietnamese women busy during Tet with works of washing the dong leaves, soaking rice, wrapping cakes, while, the children are sitting around a large pot of rice cakes and look after it overnight. For many generations, Banh Chung is the joy of the New Year's reunion. Beautiful thick and square cakes are displayed on the altar dedicated to worship ancestors. There are small cakes made for children as a New Year gift. Yet, today, the method of cooking the cake in somewhere is modernized. Yet, when New Year and spring come, Banh Chung still reminds Vietnamese people about traditional national values.

Chung Cake

Today, ingredients of making Chung Cake remain unchanged: sticky rice, green bean, pork and dong leave. Chung Cake will be more delicious if its ingredients are prepared carefully. Traditional Vietnamese Tet holiday and images of green Chung Cakes are long-lasting traditional Vietnam culture. Chung Cake evokes Tet Holiday and vice versa. Perhaps, the combination becomes a cultural symbol of Vietnam. Therefore, the work of making Chung Cake when New Year comes is a fine cultural custom of Vietnam. The website National Geographic recently released top 10 unique traditional dishes in the world, including Chung Cake and Day Cake of Vietnam. The site also described about traditional Tet in Vietnam. Tet Holiday is the most important occasion in Vietnam. It marks the appearance of spring and new hopes. Vietnamese traditional Tet is also the occasion to reunite family members. Everyone often eat melon seeds, marmalade and rice cakes during Tet.

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