Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tet Preparation, Not So Great Char Siu Bao, and Really Great Banana Bread

Must scrub my kitchen and bathroom before Tet, the Lunar New Year, begins tomorrow. Gotta wash all my sheets and pillows and quilts on account of me coughing on them for the past week too. Washed both my featherbeds already. (Yes, you can wash featherbeds. They just take a very long time to dry.) And hopefully I can squeeze in organizing my paperwork and the books in my library.

It's not that I live in a pigsty. It's just that it's been ingrained that I need to clear away as much clutter as I can before the new year comes. So even though it's been years since I've lived at home, there are just some rituals that still stick with me into adulthood.

Vietnamese Tet traditions are pretty much the same as Chinese Lunar New Year traditions. This pdf file has a much more detailed article.

I also buy several varieties of fruit and bake something to distribute to my various aunties and uncles several days before Tet, so they can have it for their altar offerings.

Last year I, along with lil' sis and two of my cousins, made lots and lots of char siu bao (Chinese barbequed pork buns). As you can see.

The dough wasn't very soft though but I loved the pork and have since adapted the recipe for char siu/xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork).

This year I opted for banana bread since my youngest aunt really liked the last batch I made. I've been tweaking the recipe a little bit and think it's a really great banana bread recipe. Very moist and banana-y if that's your thing. The trick is to wait for your bananas to get black so that they're super sweet and flavorful.

Banana Bread

For two big loaves, or one big loaf and two mini-loaves, you'll need:

1/2 cup butter, or 1 stick, softened at room temperature, or 1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 mashed overripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour (I prefer a half whole wheat, half white ratio as the whole wheat makes it taste a little nuttier.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 8-oz container, about 1/2 cup, yogurt

Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup walnuts

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add bananas and vanilla and mix well.

Beat eggs by adding them in one at a time. Gently by hand, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with butter/sugar/banana mixture. Gently fold in yogurt until just combined. Do not overmix. Then add nuts if you so desire.

Bake in a large greased loaf pan or two smaller ones at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to one hour.

Now doesn't that look like perfectly moist and very banana-y?

I always end up with the better end of the annual Tet exchange. Tomorrow I'll show you the yummy goodies my aunties and uncles gave me.


Who made my recipe for banana bread?
Christine D. said it was "really banana-y and moist" and "can't wait to eat more of this for breakfast."

My other sweet bread recipes:
Cinnamon Rolls
Mango Bread
Persimmon Bread
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cranberry/Pumpkin Butter/Walnut Filling and Maple Icing
Strawberry Banana Bread 
Taro Dinner Rolls


  1. that's a cool tradition! :) i like it. no wonder you are a good cook! you are surrounded by cooks. :D happy new year!

  2. Chuc mung nam moi! If only I were as good as you to clean up my surroundings. Not even Tet can make me do that! I'm so baddd!

    Oh man, I love banana bread! ^_^

  3. Talkin about pigsty, it's supposed to be the year of the pig! Hahaha! My unit is really a pigsty now as I've had no chance to "spring-clean" last week when I was away. Happy New Year to you!

  4. Hi Budding Cook,
    You haven't tasted my cooking yet to know if the pictures are accurate. ;) But yeah, my aunts and uncles all cook really well.

    Hi Christine,
    Well, I did a quick swipe through everything but that counts right? :)

    Maybe I should have left the house messy so I could really celebrate the Year of the Pig huh? :)

  5. Hi Chopsticks, I made this yesterday. Your banana bread/cake recipe is great! Not too buttery at all. I used all white sugar and all white flour. Added some toasted and chopped walnuts as well. Turned out great!
    I used muffin cups as I did not have a loaf pan... the funny thing is that my "banana muffins" did not rise like my orange muffins did. Any idea why?

  6. Hi Yich,

    Yay! You tried my recipe, I'm glad you liked it.

    As for the rise, the orange muffins used 2 more eggs than this recipe, so that'll help them rise more. Also, this recipe is a little wetter with the mashed bananas, butter, and yogurt, so that all contributes as well. Banana bread tends to be denser, more bread-like than cake-like so you won't get the same consistency. But what really matters is the taste, right? :)

  7. Ar I see. Thank you teacher!
    Hehe at first I was very worried about using blackened bananas but since I bought them un-bruised, when they blackened, they turned out all right... and yeah.... very sweet.:)

  8. Yich,
    haha! You cook much more elaborate stuff than I do!

    But that's why I included the black banana photo, in case people like you would throw them out. ;P

  9. Love that banana bread. -- My daughter was an exchange student for 2 weeks in a Japanese home. She had a wonderful experience. Her Japanese "mother" came to town
    about 7 years later with a group.
    I invited her w/ 2 friends to my
    home. They spoke no english, and
    I, no Japanese. But, the toasted
    and buttered banana bread w/ tea
    really hit the spot. They wanted
    the recipe, and took it home with
    them. It was enjoyed by all.

  10. Anon, or is this Melba?
    I've never thought of buttering banana bread to go with tea but it sounds absolutely lovely. Must keep this in mind next time I have a tea party.


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