Thang den (thắng dền), a renowned and delectable specialty in Ha Giang Province, is a delightful snack perfect for relishing on cold nights while venturing through the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam.
At first glance, thang den’s appearance and preparation might strike a chord with the traditional floating rice cakes found in the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. However, the key distinction lies in the choice of ingredients embraced by the locals to craft this dish. Cooks opt for plump, white and sturdy glutinous rice grains. These grains are soaked for five to six hours, then pounded and ground into glutinous rice flour. The resulting flour is shaped into balls, which can either contain cooked green beans, sesame, coconut fillings, or remain plain.
Subsequently, these rice balls are immersed in a pot of boiling water. Once cooked, the balls are placed in a small bowl and adorned with a special sugar sauce, coconut cream, and sliced ginger. The combination of sugar sauce and ginger provides a comforting warmth, particularly welcome in cold weather. Some enthusiasts go the extra mile by sprinkling crushed roasted peanuts and shredded copra atop the dish.
Thang den tantalizes the taste buds with its harmonious blend of sweet, rich, and spicy flavors. This dish truly shines when savored piping hot. And the best part? For less than US$1, diners can bask in the steamy goodness of thang den amid the chilly Ha Giang nights.