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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Enjoying mini pancakes at their place of origin

By Viet An

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There’s nothing quite like enjoying a dish in its place of origin, and that’s exactly the feeling one gets when one digs into the mini pancake (can cake) of Ninh Thuan Province, originally a common dish of the Cham ethnic people of the province

The delicious mini pancakes are made using local rice, which is round. It’s best to use old rice that is soaked for some six hours and ground into a powder. The Ninh Thuan people mix the soaked rice with dried cooled rice before grinding the two to make the pancakes extra crispy. The powder is then mixed with an appropriate amount of water.

The unique thing about the mini pancakes is that the cake is poured into round terracotta molds made by the gifted hands of the Bau Truc potters, making the cakes more fragrant and delicious.

When the charcoal is red and the mold is hot, bakers pour the dough into the molds, filling it about two thirds of the way. The filling can comprise different ingredients, such as fresh meat, shrimp, squid, eggs, etc., to meet the demands of diners. The lid is then shut and the cake is left to cook.

The cake is cooked when the dough turns milky white and the area around the cake is curved up. A delicious mini pancake is best described as lightly crunchy on the outside, soft inside, with a yellow-white crust, and a smell of scorching powder.

Some chopped green onions are thrown on top of the cakes. The white cake, mixed with the yellow of the egg, red of the shrimp, and the green of the onions make for an eye-catching appearance.

However, it’s the dipping sauce that sets the Ninh Thuan mini pancakes apart from those of other provinces. The sauce is a mixture of savory braised fish sauce, sweet and sour fish sauce, fermented anchovy sauce and peanut sauce. Diners can dip the cakes into the sauce, enjoy them with fresh vegetables, shredded green mango, chopped cucumbers and pickle.

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