Although the process of making Sa Nam banh duc (plain rice cake) is quite difficult, the cake has been a popular activity among the people of Nghe An Province for decades and has become a long-lasting tradition handed down by ancestors.
To make banh duc, the cook has to make molds, grind, cook and stir the dough, and then mold the cake. As such, molds made from plastic pipes and layered with banana leaves are best for cooking the cakes well, with a nice color.
To make a delicious plain rice cake, the cook must choose a standard rice, which is Khang Dan rice. Each kilogram of rice can cook 20-25 cakes and each cake is priced at VND2.000 at the Sa Nam market.
Rice will be ground into flour and then mixed with boiled diluted lime water. The mixture is constantly stirred on heat until the cake is cooked evenly. The pot is taken out of the stove immediately and the cake is scooped into molds when it is still hot.
A delicious plain rice cake is best characterized by its jelly shape, bright white color, chewy, mild flavor, and characteristic aroma. Sa Nam banh duc is commonly served with Nam Dan soy sauce or shrimp paste, stir-fried mussels and crab paste.
Although there are many sophisticated cakes that can be gifted, the rustic plain rice cake of Sa Nam market is still preferred by customers due to its unique flavor. Therefore, the makers of banh duc in Nghe An Province still put their hearts and soul into this traditional craft.