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Roll cake (Bánh cuốn)

Bánh cuốn is made from a thin, wide sheet of steamed fermented rice batter filled with seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, and minced shallots. Sides for this dish usually consist of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage), sliced cucumber, and bean sprouts, with the dipping sauce called nước chấm. Sometimes, a drop of cà cuống, which is the essence of a giant water bug,Lethocerus indicus, is added to the nước chấm for extra flavor, although this ingredient is scarce and quite expensive.

viet street food banhuot - Roll cake (Bánh cuốn)
Roll cake in a southern style – we call “wet” cake (bánh ướt)

The rice sheet in bánh cuốn is extremely thin and delicate. It is made by steaming a slightly fermented rice batter on a cloth which is stretched over a pot of boiling water. It is a light dish, and is generally eaten for breakfast everywhere in Vietnam. A different version of bánh cuốn, called bánh cuốn Thanh Trì and bánh cuốn làng Kênh, may be found in Thanh Trì, a southern district of Hanoi and Kênh village of Nam Định, an ancient village in the centre of Nam Định city.Bánh cuốn Thanh Trì or Bánh cuốn làng Kênh are not rolls, but just rice sheets eaten with chả lụa, fried shallots, or prawns.

Again and again we have two different: roll cake in a northern style, filled with pork meat (bánh cuốn nhân thịt) and roll cake in a southern style – we call bánh ướt (wet cake!).  Both are made from rice, steamed and served with sweet, spicy fish sauce, ham and blanched bean sprouts, herbs. Both are most popular but wet cake (bánh ướt) could be more popular as street food in Sài Gòn as it’s easy to sell from a moving cart! These days I saw many these carts on the street!

viet street food banhcuon - Roll cake (Bánh cuốn)
Roll cake filled with pork meat in a northern style at Thiên Hương
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