Banh com is not only one of the indispensable offerings during wedding ceremonies and ancestor-worshipping days, but is also a specialty that any visitor to Hanoi will want to buy for their friends and relatives as a present. For many years, Hang Than Street in Hanoi has been well-known for Banh com.
In 1865, the ancestors of the Nguyen Duy family on Hang Than Street found a way of drying green rice flakes to make Banh com. Since then, the trade has continually developed on the street and there are now over 50 shops selling Banh com of different types to meet the increasing demands of customers.
This 300 metre long street houses more than 30 green rice flake cake shops. The Nguyen Ninh trademark is the oldest and most popular brand for green rice flake cake. The name was established in 1865 by late Tran Thi Luan and adopted it’s current name of Nguyen Ninh in 1928.
To make delicious cakes the cooks must follow a complicated process. It is necessary to carefully select sticky unhusked rice to make green rice flakes. Then, the main ingredient is dried and packed tightly to avoid getting wet. When making the cakes, the green rice flakes are mixed with water and sugar until they become soft. The mixture is fried for two hours and stirred well until it becomes pasty.
To make the stuffing, submerge green beans in water and flay them before steaming. The green bean paste is blended with a dash of sugar, grapefruit flower attar, sugar coated lotus seeds and coconut. The stuffing is divided into small rolls that are covered by fried green rice flakes.
Banh com on Hang Than Street is delicious with the green colouration of green rice flakes, the sweet and nutty flavour of green beans and coconut and the scent of grapefruit flower essential oil.
Banh com is often served with tea. Today, Banh com on Hang Than Street is considered a specialty of Hanoi.