Tet (Chinese New Year’s) is just around the corner and it is the most celebrated holiday in Vietnam. To celebrate Tet, indulgent dessert is a must such as steam rice cakes with honey-comb like texture, infused in a creamy, decadent flavor of coconut milk. I was invited to a #SweetLunarNewYear party by Christine from Vermilion Roots and couldn’t been more excited! Be sure to check out yummy treats from all amazing bloggers at the end of the post.
Vietnamese steam rice cakes are originally from Southern China and gained its popularity through Vietnam region, especially Southern Vietnam. Banh in Vietnamese means “cakes” and bo in Vietnamese means “cow or to crawl”. The crawls refer to how the cakes are crawling or puff up when steaming under high heat to completion. Vietnamese steam rice cakes are made from rice flour, water, sugar, yeast with a touch of coconut milk.
Rice flour is the main ingredients in most Vietnamese dishes. From savory dish such as Vietnamese pancakes to sweet snacks such as rice cakes, rice flour is a stable ingredient in Vietnamese food culture.
Growing up in Vietnam, I would never say “No” to dessert or after school snacks. Of course, the rice cakes were on top my list and were something I look forward to every New Year. Now every time I see them, I get nostalgic goosebumps of my childhood using food allowance saving at food stalls so I could savor the delicious rice cakes!
Simple, delicious and stinking cute are reasons you will also fall in love with these rice cakes!
Thanks for letting me share my childhood memories!!
Here are some helpful tips:
- You will need a steamer for this recipe. Make sure your steamer is ¾ filled with water. Let the steamer boils on high heat for at least 10 minutes before steaming the cakes.
- I used small egg tart mold for this recipe. If you don’t have them, you can also use small ramekins or small dishes. The steaming time will be a little longer.
- Use warm water. The water should slightly be around 100 degrees.
- If your yeast isn’t frothy or bubbly after 10 minutes, it’s probably expired. The active dry yeast is the key ingredient in this recipe. I used Hodgson Mill fast acting dry yeast and they work great.
- Vanilla sugar is optional in this recipe. It was hard for me to find vanilla sugar from my grocery store. I’ve tested this recipe with and without vanilla sugar and honestly can’t really tell the difference
- You might have to refill the water of the basin the second time. Make sure you give enough time for the water from the steamer to boil and heats up again before steaming the cakes.
In the spirit of the Chinese New Year, here are more sweets treat to celebrate. Welcome to our virtual #SweetLunarNewYearParty. Please check out these amazing recipes from wonderful bloggers friends. A special thank you to Christine from Vermilion Roots for hosting this #SweetLunarNewYear party! Now let’s have some dessert!
Snow Fungus Soup by Vermilion Roots
Indonesian Honeycomb Cake (Bingka Ambon) by What To Cook Today
Chinese Peanut Cookies by Wok & Skillet
Vietnamese Steamed Rice Cakes by A Taste of Joy and Love
Gluten-Free Chinese Almond Cookies by Grits & Chopsticks
Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies by Little Sweet Baker
Ice Cream Mooncakes by Brunch-n-Bites
Coconut Red Bean Pudding by The Missing Lokness
Korean Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (Goguma Mattang) by What Great Grandma Ate
Cashew Nut Cookies by Anncoo Journal
One Bite Pine Nut Cookies by Yummy Workshop
Baked Coconut Walnut Sticky Rice Cake by Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Black Sesame Cream Puffs by Pink Wings
Cashew Nut Cookies by Roti n Rice
Mini Peanut Puffs (Kok Chai) by Malaysian Chinese Kitchen
Thousand Layer Cake (Lapis Legit) by Daily Cooking Quest
Pineapple Cookies (Nastar) by V for Veggy
Almond Orange Spiral Cookies by Butter & Type
Three Color Dessert (Che Ba Mau) by The Viet Vegan
Year of the Rooster Mochi by Thirsty for Tea
Korean Tea Cookies (Dasik) by Kimchimari
Sweet Sticky Nian Gao (Kuih Bakul) by Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen
Sweet Rice Balls with Peanut Butter (Tang Yuan) by Omnivore’s Cookbook
Candied Ginger (Mut Gung) by Plant Crush
Chick Egg Tarts by Dessert Girl
Red Bean Soup with Black Glutinous Rice by Nut Free Wok
Orange Scented Sweet Red Bean by Lime and Cilantro
- 1½ cup rice flour
- ¼ cup + 2 teaspoon tapioca starch
- 1½ cup water (divided) (See note 1)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)
- 1 cup coconut milk (see note 2)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- 1 tablespoon water
- pandant extract
- vegetable oil (for greasing the cake pans)
- roasted sesame seeds
- Place active dry yeast and sugar in ¼ cup of warm water. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes until it becomes bubbly and frothy
- In a large mixing bowl, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, vanilla sugar, 1 cup of water. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Stir well until blended
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then place a towel on top of it. Let the mixture sit for at least 1.5 to 2 hours until the batter rises. Place the batter in the oven with the light on to fasten the rising process. You will see small bubbles appear on top of the batter after 2 hours. (See note 3)
- While the batter is resting, prepare the coconut sauce
- In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of coconut milk, the remaining ½ cup of water and ¾ cup sugar. Stir well to dissolve. Let the mixture cool to room temperature
- After 2 hours, pour the coconut milk mixture to the batter, mix well to combine. Strain the batter through a fine mesh colander.
- Pour the batter into 2 separate cups. Place one drop of pandant extract on one of the cups or you can add your choice of food coloring. Let the batter rest for an additional 10-15 minutes before steaming
- Fill the steamer with water. Let the water boils over high heat before steaming
- Brush vegetable oil to each pans. Place the empty pans in the steamer and steam for a minute
- Pour the batter into each pans, fill it about ¾, leaving some space for the cake to rise.
- Cover the steamer and steam for about 3-5 minutes. Occasionally remove the lid and wipe off excess water from the steamer.
- Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan
- To serve: drizzles luscious coconut sauce over the cakes, top with roasted sesame seeds
- Combine all coconut sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer until the sauce starts to thicken.
Note 2: I used 1 can (13.5 oz) of coconut milk. I used 1 cup for the flour mixture and saved the remaining for the coconut sauce
Note 3: If making in the summer months, you don't have to place the batter in the oven