Banh tet and banh chung are essential to any Vietnamese Tet celebration, so essential that they're part of a mural in Little Saigon with depictions of Vietnamese history. Read the legend of how the sticky rice cakes helped 16th-in-line Prince Lang Lieu gain the throne. While most people are more familiar with the square-shaped banh chung, my family makes the cylindrical-shaped banh tet. The glutinous rice is compressed more tightly when it's wrapped this way. The sticky rice cakes are filled with fatty pork and mung bean paste (My family likes to substitute with fava beans.), wrapped in banana leaves, and boiled for 12-18 hours.
The banh tet are sliced and can be eaten as is with a side of dua mon, pickled daikon and carrots. Or dipped in sugar. Or my favorite, pan-fried.
Do you like the artful arrangement of lap xuong lil' sis did just for my camera?
Those lovely large and very fresh lap xuong (Chinese sausage) are from Quang Tran, Inc. in Rosemead. A 1-pound package runs about $6-$7. Just look at the color and size. These lap xuong are truly spectacular.
My youngest uncle gave me this batch of banh it.
This was my grandma's specialty and my oldest uncle continues the tradition making sesame brittle and sesame/peanut candies.
And because Tet is supposed to signal the arrival of spring, the very first daffodil bloomed in my garden.
When I first moved to California, I loved how the banks responded to their Asian clientele during the lunar new year by offering fresh crisp bills and complimentary red money envelopes.
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