A gift from nature: Yen Bai's green rice flakes

By Van Khuong   October 1, 2019 | 12:34 pm GMT+7

The northern mountainous province of Yen Bai is blessed with a unique variety of rice from which locals make the iconic green rice flakes.

A gift from nature: Tu Les green rice flakes

In Yen Bai's Van Chan District, farmers in Tu Le Commune head to the fields at the end of September and early October to harvest their ripening rice crop, including a glutinous variety that is used to make Tu Le's famous com or green rice flakes.

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The Thai ethnic group people in Yen Bai still make com in the traditional way by soaking rice harvested in the early morning in cold water to remove impurities. The tailings, which float to the surface, are removed.

The grain used to make the green rice flakes must have a white liquid resembling milk and yellowish husk and not be fully ripe.

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After removing the imperfect grains, the rice is roasted in a large pan over a steady fire for about 30 minutes until the seeds crack and give off an aroma.

According to the Thai, this is an important stage to determine the deliciousness of the green rice flakes: too high and the fire would harden the grain, and too low and it would cause the dish to lose its stickiness.

The harvested rice must be processed the same day.

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The roasted rice is pounded in a mortar and pestle.

Tu Le green rice flakes are done completely manually. Most households in Tu Le make green rice flakes, but Na Long Village is the most famous for it. On average, a family of three in Na Long Village makes about 20 kg of com daily for selling.

A gift from nature: Tu Les green rice flakes - 4

The pounding is done by two people with one wielding the pestle and the other using a large spoon to keep turning over the rice.

The former has to pound with a steady, rhythmic motion, not using too much or little force, while the latter must keep the rice mixed evenly.

Once the husk is cracked, the rice is scooped out of the mortar.

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Then the ground grains are checked again to ensure there is no husk left.

The pounding and screening processes are repeated to make sure the husks are removed and the grains are flattened evenly.

A gift from nature: Tu Les green rice flakes  - 4

The Tu Le green rice flake has a distinctive green color and tastes best when freshly made. The final product is soft and fragrant and has a slightly bitter taste though the aftertaste is slightly sweet.

People use com in various dishes like spring rolls or even desserts like ice cream. Locals also make offerings of com to ancestors.

The Tu Le green rice flake has become a famous specialty now. Visitors even put it in a vacuum bag and give it as a gift. A kilogram costs about VND120,000 ($5.2) if bought from a local's house.

 
 
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