Something I never had…

This was something that I had never seen, much less eaten before…

Banh Tet 1

mamakucing gave me these when I was in KL at the end of May till the beginning of June and at first, I thought they were the Cantonese pillow chang (dumplings) but they were not. Actually, they were the Vietnamese dumplings called Banh Tet

Banh Tet 2

This is a savoury but sometimes sweetened cake made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape…

Banh Tet 4

…with mung bean and pork fillings, then boiled. After cooking, the banana leaf is removed and the cake is sliced into wheel-shaped servings…and I read somewhere that I could pan-fry them lightly to eat.

I took them out of the freezer on the day of the Duanwu Jie (端午节) or the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Chang Festival. I had to defrost it first before trying to slice it. Unfortunately, I found that it was too crumbly so I was not able to cut it into into nice slices. Perhaps it was because there was too much mung beans inside and once cut, the whole thing would just fall apart. In the end, I just steamed it to heat it up and ate…

Banh Tet 4

It was very nice. The taste was different from the different kinds of chang that we would be more familiar with. The pulut (glutinous rice) had a taste of its own – very fragrant and very nice with the use of the banana leaves to wrap it up…and there was the mung bean taste to add to that and also that of the meat. I loved the meat that they had inside – something like the canned stewed pork, maybe a lighter and nicer version. I did wish they had more meat though…especially at the ends where there were only the mung beans, no meat. On the whole, I would say that I liked it a lot!

Papakucing kept telling me to pan-fry it to eat but I had given one to my mum and eaten up my own so there wasn’t anymore. Well, it so happened that my mum did not want to try so she asked me to take it back. I wouldn’t know whether it was because I told her I had only two and I had given her one – she’s always been like that, not eating herself and saving it for the children.

Anyway, this time around, I cut it cold from the fridge without removing the banana leaf and I managed it quite well without making a mess. Then I greased the pan with a bit of oil and lightly fried the slices…

BT - lightly-fried

…before sitting down to eat with Thai chili sauce mixed with my missus’ homemade pounded cili padi dip. Oooooo…it was soooooo very much nicer this way but unfortunately, that’s the last of the lot unless some kind soul thinks it fitting to give me some more again. Wink! Wink! Hehehehehehe!!!!

So, did you get to eat a lot of changs during the festival this year? I did not go out to buy any – in fact, I had stopped doing that for a while now. The ones here would be what we call the Hokkien chang which would be darker with the use of dark soy sauce and five spice powder. I was told that this would be the kind one would find in Taiwan which came as no surprise to me as there are many Hokkiens in the island republic.

Unfortunately, over here these days, for RM2.00, you can get a smaller one in which you can hardly see any meat at all. It seems that they use minced meat and mix it with the pulut and everything else. The taste is still there but it is not the same anymore and without doubt, the pleasure of eating it is gone. The RM3.00 ones would be much bigger but inside, you will find more or less the same thing, just a bit more of it and they’ve salted egg added. Sadly though, there would be so little of the egg that more often than not, you may be able to taste it but not see it.

Fortunately, I was given some changs as well by mamakucing and I managed to save three for the festival…

MKC1

Hers would probably be the mainland ones…not the Taiwan Hokkien ones as they were lighter without the strong soy sauce and five spice powder taste.

As you can see, she had a lot of filling inside including the star attraction – the very delicious stewed pork belly…

MKC 2

…and other than that, she had chestnut, mung beans, shitake mushroom, dried prawn and salted egg inside so you can imagine how you would be able to savour the different tastes as you eat around that huge thing. Yummmmm!!!!!

That’s it for the festival this year and thank you once again, mamakucing – you certainly saved the day! I will have to start worrying about where I will get the changs from this same time next year but I guess we’ll just have to cross the bridge when we come to it…