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Friday, June 14, 2024

Duc cake: A delectable slice of childhood nostalgia

By Tien Sa

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Duc cake, a cherished delight, encapsulates the fond childhood memories of countless individuals across Vietnam’s diverse regions. This rustic cake, born in the countryside, boasts simplicity in both its ingredients and preparation, making it an affordable treat that resonates with all.

Duc cake finds its core in a blend of rice flour, glutinous rice flour, and tapioca flour, complemented by an array of aromatic spices, all skillfully combined with just the right amount of water. The culinary maestro begins by delicately coating the mold with a thin layer of cooking oil. The doughy concoction is then gently poured into this prepared canvas, ready to be meticulously cooked over low heat. This step is crucial to ensure that the flour does not scorch or cling to the pan’s surface.

For the filling, dried shrimp take center stage. They are pampered with a warm water soak, allowing them to luxuriate and soften for around 30 minutes. Once rejuvenated, they are washed, drained, and coaxed into a flavorful dance alongside minced pork, fragrant garlic, purple onions, slender wood-ear mushrooms, and a secret medley of spices. The resulting symphony is evenly spread upon the cooled Duc cake, bestowing it with an irresistible allure. Some connoisseurs even sprinkle crushed roasted peanuts atop this culinary masterpiece.

The hallmark of a well-crafted Duc cake is its exquisite texture—soft, velvety, and tantalizingly crisp, reminiscent of pigskin. Precision is key as it is artfully sliced into bite-sized morsels, each resting on a delicate bed of banana leaves. To elevate the experience, the cake is accompanied by Vietnamese fermented anchovy sauce or fish sauce, replete with embellishments like minced chili and garlic—a harmony of flavors that excites the palate.

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