Cuisine - Shopping

“Banh re” of my hometown - (28/07/2016)

( One of the rustic snacks that I and my fellows who live far from Phan Thiet - our hometown always crave for is the crispy, sweet and greasy “banh re”.

(“Banh re” in Phan Thiet; Photo: Nguyen Vu))

My grandmother said that “banh re” (or “re” cake) is so called because it looks like “re” - a kind of traditional bamboo flat pot pad in Phan Thiet. According to some documents, “banh re” is possibly a specialty of Cham people in Binh Thuan. It is made of julienne sweet potato that fried with oil and covered with melting cane sugar and roasted sesame. With the flavour of sweet potato, sweetness of cane sugar and greasy of sesame, “banh re” will absolutely delight your taste-buds.
In the time of my grandparents, nothing can be more comfortable and restful than enjoying “banh re” with hot tea after a hard-working day.
For those who want to know how “banh re” is made, here is the recipe for “banh re” of craftswoman Dao Thi Trinh: peel off the skin of potatos, steep them in water for a while to reduce latex, julienne them and add some vanilla, boil sugar, and roast white sesame. Prepare two pans with oil, one with round mould, another with deep bottom and full of oil. When the oil boils well, put some jullienne potatoes to the mould, stir them a little bit so that they will nicely stick together. When the potatoes turn yellow, move the cake to the other pan and continue to fry until it become dark yellow. Finally, steep the cake into melting sugar and pour some sesame on it.
Ms Dao Thi Trinh said: “Although making “banh re” is quite simple, you need to be clever and careful to create beautiful round cakes with nice color and moderate sweet and grease. Apart from sweet potatoes, Phan Thiet residents can make “banh re” from cassava; however, its flavour is not as good as “banh re” made of sweet potatoes. To create specific zest for their own “banh re”, some production facilities add tamarind or ginger to their products”.
“Banh re” is now a famous specialty of Phan Thiet, which is not only delicious but also very cheap. A bundle of “banh re”, comprise about 10 pieces, costs around VND10.000 – 20.000. Besides, it’s rather easy to to find “banh re” in most of markets, main streets of Phan Thiet and specialty stores near tourist sites of the city.
Nguyen Vu
Translated by Hong Anh


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