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Sunday, July 14, 2024

The enchanting delight of Tay ethnic people

By Phuc An

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Cooc mo cake stands as a revered culinary treasure among the Tay ethnic community residing in the majestic mountainous provinces of northern Vietnam. This traditional delicacy brims with cultural significance and takes center stage in numerous local festivities.

Known affectionately as “cooc mo” due to its striking resemblance to the graceful curve of an ox horn, crafting this cake demands the utmost finesse and expertise from the skilled cooks. Their mastery is crucial in ensuring the creation of exquisite cooc mo cakes of the highest quality.

At the heart of this delicacy lies glutinous rice, meticulously cleansed through repeated washing until the water turns crystal clear. The rice is then soaked in water for hours until it achieves a desired softness. For an enchanting cooc mo cake, the cooks meticulously select vibrant, emerald-green dong or banana leaves, renowned for their smoothness. These leaves are treated with care, undergoing thorough washing, gentle drying, and proper drainage.

The artistry unfolds during the wrapping process. A leaf is deftly rolled into a graceful funnel, creating a vessel to embrace the rice. With meticulous precision, the rice is poured in, the edges of the leaf are carefully folded, and a firm tie secures the package. This step is where the true magic happens—the tightness of the wrapping is the key to preventing the intrusion of water. Though deceptively simple in appearance, this crucial step sets the stage for the ultimate quality of the cake.

Cooc mo cake is then gently boiled for two hours. As diners partake in this delicacy, they are transported to the lofty realms of mountainous landscapes, where the pure aromas and delicate textures of the fields tantalize the senses. Though devoid of a filling, every grain of glutinous rice carries an aromatic and subtly indulgent taste.

In certain provinces, an additional touch of richness is added by incorporating pork side into the filling. Cooc mo cake can be savored on its own, allowing its flavors to captivate, or dipped into the golden sweetness of honey or sugar, creating an exquisite harmony of tastes.

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