Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Tet)

Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Tet)

These delicious cakes are a must-have food for Vietnamese New Year/Tet. There are many variations on the filling, some sweet and others savory. This recipe is the savory version with a mung bean and pork filling. Unlike their square-shaped siblings (Square Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Chung), these cakes are smaller, cylindrical and overall easier to make. If you live in an area populated with lots of Asians, you’ll find these cakes everywhere, especially around this time of the year. It may be tempting to just buy them but if you have the time, I strongly encourage you to make these at home. They are amazing when homemade! The glutinous rice is soft and sticky when freshly made and you can season the filling to your tastes. Plus, making these cakes is a fun activity and a wonderful opportunity to get the whole family involved. No arguments, these cakes are time-consuming to make but when you take that first bite of the cake you’ll agree the effort was all worth it. Happy New Year!!

PART 1

Watch the videos below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Square Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Chung).

Ingredients

3/4 lb pork belly
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp minced shallots
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 cups mashed mung beans
16 oz package frozen banana leaves
6 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous or sweet rice)

Directions

Cut pork belly into 1-inch wide strips and then trim so each piece is 5 inches long.  Optionally, remove the pork skin and discard.

Combine pork with black pepper, sugar, salt, shallots and fish sauce.  Marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface.  Take 3/4 cup of the mung beans and divide it in half.  Spread each mung bean half out until it’s about 5 inches long.  Place the marinated pork on top of one of the mung bean strips.  Place the other mung bean strip on top.  Press the mung beans around the pork and then shape into a log.  Roll up the logs in plastic wrap.  Measure the log and make sure they’re approximately 5 inches.  Freeze the logs overnight.

Tape together 2 sheets of 8 1/2 X 11 inch paper to form an 11-inch square.

Thaw banana leaves at room temperature for at least 1 hour.  Gently unfold the banana leaves.  Using the paper template, cut out 12 sheets of banana leaves (3 sheets per cake).  Cut a few extra sheets just  in case some tear while washing.

Clean the banana leaves by washing both sides in hot water.   Wipe both sides of the leaves dry with paper towels.  Moisten 2 large pieces of paper towels and place the leaves in between the towels.  Place the cleaned banana leaves  back into the original bag and then seal the bag with tape.  Refrigerate the banana leaves until they’re ready to use.

Wash the rice by rinsing with cool water until the water runs clear.  Fill the basin with water and allow the rice to soak overnight.

 

PART 2

The amount of sticky rice in this recipe is generous and you will have some leftover.  I adjusted the rice to consider several important variables: 1) brand of rice 2) soaking time, 3) size of filling logs 4) amount of rice preferred in cakes.   Each cakes uses approximately 2 cups of sticky rice.  You can add up to another 1/2 cup per cake and have enough rice for all 4 cakes.  My cakes measure:  Diameter: 2 3/4 inches, Circumference: 8 3/4 inches, Height: 7 inches

When tying the cakes with string, use a moderate amount of tension.  The string should be tight enough to hold everything together put not so tight that it creases the banana leaves.  You should be able to slide the string with your fingers if needed.

The technique for tying the string is what makes the cake so unique and eye-catching.   However, if working with string is not your forte, simply make a series of simple knots around the cake.

You need a pretty big pot to cook these cakes.  The one I have is 20 quarts.  The pot should be at least 3 inches taller than the cakes to allow room for water.  If you don’t have a pot that is tall enough, you can lay the cakes on their sides and cook them this way.

Be sure to use a heavy lid, bowl or plate to weigh down the cakes.  The cakes need to be submerged in water during the entire cooking process.

Check the water levels every hour and add more water as needed.  When adding water to pot, only use boiling water.  Do not add lukewarm or cold water to the pot.  This will stop the cakes from cooking and ruin them.

Some people hang their cakes after cooking to allow the water to drip out of the cakes.  If you wrap the cakes in a generous amount of foil, the water won’t seep into the cake and there’s no need to hang them dry.

These cakes are typically served at room temperature.  If not eaten within a 1 or 2 days, put them in the refrigerator.  They’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Freeze any remaining cakes for up to 6 months.

Have lots of leftover cake?  A different way to enjoy leftover cakes is to pan-fry them until they are golden brown on both sides.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Sticky Rice and Mung Bean (Xoi Vo).

Ingredients

6 cups sticky rice soaked overnight (approximately 9 cups rice)
4 mung bean and pork filling logs (Part 1 for recipe)
12-11×11 inch sheets of banana leaves, washed and trimmed (see Part 1 above)
2 tsp of salt
4-16 inch lengths of string
4-9 feet lengths of string

Directions 

Remove filling logs from the freezer.

Rinse rice with water one more time.  Drain in colander.  Toss rice in colander to remove remaining water.  Add salt and combine with rice.

Place a 16-inch piece of string vertically on your work surface.

Place the first banana leaf on the work surface with the shiny side down and veins running horizontally.  Place the second banana leaf on top of the first in the same way.  Place the third banana leaf on top of the other 2 leaves with the shiny side up and veins running vertically.

Place 1/2 cup of rice on the center of the banana leaves.  Spread out the rice so it’s 1/4-inch high and just a bit bigger than the filling log.  Place the filling log on top of the rice.  Bring the edges of the banana leaves up and together.  Hold one end together with one hand.  Add 1/2 cup of rice on top of the filling log.  Use a spoon to add more rice to the sides of the cake and smooth out the top.  Try to encase the filling in an even amount of rice.

Firmly wrap the bottom portion of the banana leaves around the rice.  Bring the top portion of the leaves down and wrap firmly around the cake.  Tie the string around the middle of the cake to hold the leaves in place.

Fold the leaves over on the one end and then stand the cake up.  Pat the cake with your palms to settle the rice.  Add more rice and cover the filling completely.  Fold the banana leaves covering the end completely.  Place the cake on the folded end now.  Repeat the same process of adding rice and folding the banana leaves.

Tie the cakes with securely with string.  (Please see video for this part.)  Continue until all 4 cakes are made.  Wrap cakes in a generous amount of foil.

Place the cakes into a large pot standing each cake on its end.  Fill the pot with water until it almost covers the cakes.  Place a heavy lid or plate on top of the cakes.  Add more water until the cakes are completely immersed in water.  Cover pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to Low and cook for 4 hours.  Check water level every 1 hours and add boiling water as needed.  After 2 hours flip the cakes.

After 4 hours, remove from pot.  Remove the foil and rinse each cake with cool water.  Dry the cakes with a kitchen towel, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, unwrap the banana leaves, slice the cake into thick slices and enjoy with Dried Carrot and Radish Pickles.

Yields: 4 cakes

Pan-Fried Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Tet Chien)

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

39 Responses to Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Tet)

  1. Duc February 5, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Help please! I cooked 2 Banh tet in my 6 quart pressure cooker for 2 hours and let them sit untouched for 90 minutes. When I unwrapped one of them, one side has a bit of hard sweet rice. Do you think I should have refill water or turned the cake after the first hour? I would love to try making this again but only after I find out what went wrong first. Thank you for your time.

    • Trang February 10, 2017 at 8:25 am #

      Hi Duc,
      There’s no need to rotate the cakes when using the pressure cooker. The high pressure heat should evenly circulate the cooker without you having to turn the cakes. Can you think of anything different about this one side of under-cooked cake? Was it covered completely with water? Was there more rice in this cake than the other? Did you use an electric or stovetop pressure cooker?

      • Duc February 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

        Thank you for your reply chi Trang! I used a stove top pressure cooker. I followed the manual direction as to only fill the water up to half of the pan only but that’s direction for American food only isn’t it? I’m so new at cooking that any help or suggestions you can give me is very much appreciated! Maybe I should have put a plate or something heavy over the 2 Banh tet so that everything is covered completely? Thank you very much for your time. Have a great weekend!

        • Trang February 11, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

          Hi Duc,
          When cooking banh tet or banh chung in a pressure cooker, I usually fill the cooker to the maximum level with water. For added measure, you can certainly place something heavy on top to weigh down the cakes. It takes a bit of fine-tuning with the size of your cakes and your specific pressure cooker to get it just right but I think you’re really close. Have a great weekend! 🙂

          • Duc February 13, 2017 at 7:31 am #

            Thank you chi Trang! Your help gives me confidence to try making Banh tet again! I’ll try again when i can get my hands on more banana leaves.

          • Trang March 1, 2017 at 10:32 am #

            Awesome Duc! I know you can do it. I am looking forward to hearing about the next round. 🙂

  2. Anniebananie January 31, 2017 at 6:56 am #

    Hello Trang,

    Thank you for sharing your recipe! Do you happent to know if the red/pink string is toxic?

    • Trang February 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

      Hi Annie,
      I don’t think it’s toxic but if you’re concerned, substitute with cooking twine. Good Luck!

  3. Kim January 31, 2017 at 12:17 am #

    So I love the tips and the video! Thank you so much!!! Wondering for freezing. How do you reheat them? Steam them again frozen or bring it from freezer to refrigerator and then warm it? Sorry. Silly questions but has to figure out how you do it. Thank you!

    • Trang February 4, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi Kim,
      Not a silly question at all. 🙂 For the frozen cakes, thaw in the refrigerator. Warm slightly in the microwave or by steaming. You can also thaw quickly using the microwave’s defrost function. Hope that helps!

  4. Maliya truong January 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    Hi. My aunt made some for me but the rice seems like it was still not as tender in the middle of the banh. Is there anything it can do? Can I boil it more or can I steam them in individual slices in a steamer?

    • Trang February 4, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

      Hi Maliya,
      If the cakes haven’t been refrigerated, you can wrap them up and boil them again. If they’ve been refrigerated, cut them into small pieces and steam on High heat with lots of water. Alternatively, you can pan-fry the cakes. Hope that helps.

  5. Nhi January 25, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    Hi chi Trang,

    Thank you sooooo much for the awesome instruction! I already wrapped the cakes but it’s too late to boil them now (11pm here). Do you think it would be okay to wait till 6pm tomorrow to boil them? Also, our pot is not tall enough, is it okay if I place the cakes down instead of standing them up in the pot?

    Thanks again!
    Nhi

    • Trang January 26, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

      Hi Nhi,
      The cakes will be just fine at room temperature until the morning. Placing them down works as well. I look forward to hearing how your cakes turn out. Good Luck!

  6. Ann January 18, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    Chi Trang oi, due to time constraint, I made banh tet this week instead of banh chung and let me tell you, for a first attempt, they came out almost as good looking as the ones that are sold at the stores! Thank you very much for such concise direction! I wish I could cut into them right now but they are still too hot. By the way, if I was to cook these in a pressure cooker, how long do you think I should cook them? Thank you!

    • Trang January 19, 2017 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Ann,
      Great Job! I am so happy to hear your banh tet came out well. 🙂 I am looking forward to seeing some pictures. High Pressure cook these cakes for 2 hours and then allow to continue cooking using the residual heat for another 1 1/2 hours. Enjoy!

      • Ann January 19, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

        Hi chi Trang, I will try to share a pic of the banh tet with you. We polished off 2 and I gave one each to my mom and my mom in law. My mom in law was so surprised that my first attempt at making banh tet was so successful! Needless to say, my mom was very impressed too. I’m so psyched up that I’m going to make more next week. Regarding the pressure cooker, I’m a bit of a newbie so please help me. When you say residual heat, do you mean we shut off the heat and leave the lid on for the duration? As always, I appreciate you taking the time to teach us these yummy recipes.

        • Trang January 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

          Hi Ann,
          I just knew you would be successful! Great job em! Regarding the pressure cooker, you are correct–just turn off the heat and leave the pressure cooker as is and let the cakes continue to cook using the residual/remaining heat. Let me know if you have any questions. Good Luck and looking forward to hearing how the pressure cooker method turns out for you.

          • Ann January 24, 2017 at 5:58 am #

            Chi Trang oi, I have one word ‘PHENOMINAL’! I made another batch yesterday using the pressure cooker and I’m very pleased with the finished products. From now on, I don’t have to wait for Tet to get my fill of banh tet. What’s more, I can have it cooked in less than 3 hours. Talk about saving money on the gas bill! Thank you for your help! Mung nam moi to you and your family! See you next year

  7. V. Kieu January 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    Hi Chi, can we freeze what we make before we cook so that we can have like 20 and then cook them all at onc. THank you

    • Trang January 17, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

      Hi V,
      I have not tried freezing the uncooked cakes for later cooking. However, my experience with glutinous rice is once it is soaked and refrigerated or frozen, the rice doesn’t cook properly and no matter how long you cook it, it seems raw and crunchy. (in Vietnamese the word is sượng) If you want to experiment, try it with one cake and see if the cooked cakes are acceptable. Good Luck!

  8. Christine January 17, 2017 at 8:21 am #

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’m curious, have you tried making banh tet/Chung in your instant pot?

    • Trang January 17, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

      Hi Christine,
      Yes, I’ve made banh tet and banh chung in the Instant Pot. (My latest blog is making Banh Chung in an Instant Pot. 🙂 ) If you have the 8 qt Instant Pot, 4 banh tet will fit just fine. If you have the 6 qt, you should make the banh tet a bit smaller. Good Luck!

      • Tracy January 18, 2017 at 6:51 am #

        How long do you cook it in the instant pot?

        • Trang January 19, 2017 at 9:49 am #

          Hi Tracy,
          For 4 banh tet fitting into the 6 qt Instant Pot, High Pressure cook for 90 minutes and then let continue cooking on the Keep Warm function for another 90 minutes. If using the 8-quart Instant Pot for 4 full-sized banh tet, High pressure cook for 2 hours and then Keep Warm for 90 minutes. Hope that helps.

          • Tracy January 21, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

            Thank you! I will try it out!!

      • Christine January 22, 2017 at 11:13 pm #

        Awesome, thank you! I knew I should’ve purchased the 8 quart one instead! 🙂

  9. Kelly February 6, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    Hello Chi Trang – I just attempted this recipe and when I unwrapped it from the foil, I found the cake sitting in a lot of yellow oil. I’m assuming this is from the pork belly. Can you confirm that this is normal? Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • Trang February 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      Hi Kelly,
      I haven’t experienced this pool of yellow oil you’re describing but I usually choose leaner pieces of meat. Was the pork considerably shrunken as compared to its original shape?

  10. Ngoc February 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    I just want to let you know I’ve been lurking around your website and YouTube channel for awhile and I love it! I don’t live close enough to my mom to ask her to cook for me anymore and your website is a miracle when I’m craving Vietnamese food. I think I’m going to attempt to make both banh tet and banh chung this year using your recipe and I was wondering how would I test for doneness? I’m a bit skeptical about my stove and I don’t think it’ll cook in 4 hours. Again, thanks for all your hard work on this page! I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous new years!

    • Trang February 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

      Hi Ngoc,
      I love lurkers on my website…lol, and I happy to hear you found a recipe you’d like to try. If this is your first time making banh tet, I would suggest that you cook for longer than my suggested time of 4 hours. Banh Tet and Banh Chung can be over-boiled and they won’t be ruined. It’s really tough to tell whether the cakes are cooked unless you cut them in half. After 4 hours, you’ll have to sacrifice a cake by cutting it in half to check for doneness. If it’s not done, just wrap a layer of banana leaves around the entire cake covering the part you cut, wrap the cake with a double layer of foil and then continue boiling. If you don’t want to cut one open, you can continue boiling for another 1-2 hours. If your cakes are approximately the same size as mine, 6 hours of cooking should be more than adequate. Good Luck and I would love to hear how your cakes turn out. Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year as well!

  11. Hong January 16, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    Hi Chi Trang,

    I love your technique of wrapping the Banh tet. It looks so easy. I think I will try to goi banh tet with your technique for Tet 2015.:) Are you going to show us how to wrap banh chung too? Hope you will make another video on goi banh chung before Tet 2015 so I can try out both kinds of wrapping for Tet 2015.:) Thank you so much for the good tips and techniques on cooking vietnamese foods, chi Trang.:) Wish you good health and lots of happiness always, chi Trang!

    Hong

    • Trang January 17, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      Hello Hong,

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope you give the Banh Tet recipe a try and let me know how it turns out for you. I was planning on sharing my Banh Chung recipe this year but it looks like I won’t have time to get it all done by this year’s Tet. I will share other well-loved Tet recipes so please stay tuned. Wishing you much health, happiness and prosperity in the new year as well!

      • Hong February 24, 2015 at 8:38 am #

        Hi Chi Trang,

        Chuc mung nam moi. Chuc chi va gia dinh an khang thinh vuong va tran day hanh phuc nha!:) Em lam banh tet theo recipe cua chi day roi. An ngon lam chi. Ca nha dieu khen do! Cam on chi nhieu lam! My first try is not bad. It takes me about half an hour to wrap one roll. lol. But it was worth it. I m looking forward chi day tui em wrap banh chung next do. Hope chi will make a video on that soon. Next Tet I will wrap both. hee hee. Chuc chi mot ngay an lanh nhe.:) Thanks for everything you have done for us on this website!

        • Trang February 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

          Hi Hong,
          Chuc Mung Nam Moi! I am very happy to hear you were successful with making the Banh Tet and your family enjoyed these wonderful cakes. Great Job! They are time-consuming to make but really worth the effort. I always feel good about giving my family homemade Banh Tet versus the store-bought ones. I am definitely planning on sharing a Banh Chung video and will probably film it this summer just to be prepared for next Tet 🙂 Thank you for your kind New Year’s wishes and your support of my channel and website. Best wishes to you and your family!

  12. KT Nguyen September 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    chi Trang, em ko hieu 4-9 feet lengths of string la bao nhieu vay chi

    • Trang September 11, 2014 at 8:20 am #

      Hi KT,
      Cong thuc lam duoc 4 cai banh. Em cat 4 so string dai 9 feet/2.75 meter. Chuc em thanh cong!

  13. Linh Tran August 1, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Hi Trang,

    Linh da thu recipe nay roi. Rat ngon!!! Thank you Trang da chia se.

    Linh.

    • Trang August 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      Hi Chị Linh,
      Em rat vui khi biet chi da thanh cong voi banh nay. Cam on chi ghe website!

Leave a Reply

Affiliate Disclaimer - This website contains advertisements for
products and services. When you click on a link I recommend,
I may receive a commission. For more information go here.