Whether at a roadside eatery or a luxury restaurant, the Binh Dinh bloating fern-shaped cake (banh beo) has conquered the hearts and palates of diners with its simple yet unique taste
The bloating fern-shaped cake is made from rice flour. The rice is soaked for four hours, ground into powder and mixed with an appropriate amount of water. Too much water can lead to a doughy cake, while too little can make it hard.
The flour is stirred well and then poured into five-centimeter-diameter earthenware cups. When the cake is poured into the cups, it is necessary to create a small dent so the cake looks attractive and tastes delicious.
Cups can be arranged in 2-3 rows in the steamer, with space between them so that while steaming, the hot steam can spread evenly for the cakes to cook steadily. The lid is closed for some 10 minutes until the dough turns milky white, signaling the cake is ready to be served.
Chives are finely chopped, sauteed with oil and then spread on top of the cake, while fried onions are sometimes added to give it more crunch.
The Binh Dinh bloating fern-shaped cake’s filling is what gives it its unique flavor. It is a combination of ground shrimp and minced green beans. Small pieces of deep-fried bread are also thrown in.
Fish sauce is an indispensable ingredient in the bloating fern-shaped cake. It is mixed with garlic, sugar and chillis. The fish sauce is diluted so that diners can pour it directly into cups, eat it with the cake or sip it.