A Hanoi village that has its cake and sells a lot of it

By Ngoc Thanh   November 30, 2018 | 01:42 pm GMT+7

In suburban Hanoi, the Gia Village has held on for long to a special culinary tradition: making the ramie cake.

The cake is made from ground sticky rice and obtains its black color from the ramie leaf extract. The cake has a smooth, glossy black skin and its filling is a combination of greasy sweet flavor with pork fat, sugar, coconut rice and mung beans.

A Hanoi village that has its cake and sells a lot of it

Gia village is located near the Day River in Hoai Duc District, about 16 km to the west of Hanoi downtown. Nearly a hundred families carry the legacy of making ramie cakes in the village. In the past, the cakes were only sold during Tet, the Lunar New Year, Vietnam's grandest holiday, but increased demand has kept the cooks making it all year round.

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They remove the midrib of the ramie leaves, wash and boil them for about 30 minutes. When the leaves soften, they are ground and soaked in water until the extract dissolves in the water. The mixture is then filtered and mixed with glutinous rice flour, cassava flour and white sugar to form a thick paste.

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The mung beans are cooked until they soften. The cooks knead the bean into a paste with a big pair of chopsticks. Shredded coconut, rice, white sugar and fat are later added to the bean paste, creating the filling.

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Ramie cakes usually have a square shape, but the delicacy in Gia Village takes on a round form. The cakes here are hand-shaped or formed in round molds. Customers can buy the cake with different ingredients added, like peanuts, coconut, lotus jam, or fat.

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The cooks use dried banana leaves to wrap the cakes. Fresh leaves are washed, dried and torn into appropriate sizes.

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After careful wrapping, the cooks start to steam the cakes. The cooking duration, which can affect the softness of the cake, usually lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours. 

The price of a cake is VND5,000 ($0.21).

 
 
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