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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

“Sweet Potato Cocoons”: A specialty of Vinh Long

By Kha Ky

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Binh Tan District of Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta is often referred to by locals as their “Kingdom of Sweet Potatoes.” Since this tropical tuber has been identified by Vinh Long authorities as one of the province’s three key plants, in addition to expanding the acreage for the sweet potato crop, people in Vinh Long have also highlighted some related dishes, which are both delicious and nutritious. Among such dishes is “khoai lang kén,” literally, “sweet potato cocoons.”

“Sweet potato cocoons” are in fact a type of cakes made principally from sweet potatoes in combination with flour and condensed milk. As its name may suggest, the cakes are so called because they look like cocoons of the silkworm. The outer layer of the cake is very crispy while its filling is soft and extremely sweet and sticky.

The cake is a popular choice for diners who love sweet potatoes and want to try a taste different from the regular boiled or baked dishes of the tuber.

Needless to say, sweet potatoes are the indispensable ingredient of the cake. Bakers also need flour, as well as fresh and condensed milk. For the preparations, the cake requires a flat place, where flour is rubbed, mixed and kneaded; a couple of big bowls; and a frying pan or, better, an air fryer. It takes a baker about 30 minutes to come up with some delectable cakes ready to serve diners.

Those who want to try can bake this cake at home. First, steam the sweet potatoes and then grind the steamed tubers. Add some flour and mix them well. Later, gradually add fresh and condensed milk in accordance with one’s own taste. Next, mix them well again until a sticky dough is obtained.

The dough is then shaped into smaller parts in the form of silkworm cocoons so as to be attractive. Finally, the “cocoons” are fried in a pan with oil or an air fryer. When the crust of the “cocoons” turns golden, the cakes are ready to be used.

The “cocoon” cakes are impressive to many tourists because of the combination of the crispiness of their outer layer with the softness and sweetness of the filling. As the cocoons’ sweetness is enough, the cakes can be a snack which is both eye-catching and flavorsome, while they are not too fatty. In case that an air fryer is available instead of an oil pan, the flavor of the sweet potato cocoons remains the same, yet they are better for diners’ health.

In Vinh Long, sweet potato cocoons are a dish with which local people use to entertain their visitors. It is an easy-to-make food while the taste is remarkable.

To welcome the first visitors to the province following the strict lockdown, the cocoon cake will attain the dual goal: being palatable and good for one’s health.

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