1/2 cup mung beans washed and soaked in water 8 hours
2 cups sticky (glutinous) rice washed and soaked in water 8 hours
1.5 tsp salt (1 tsp for the rice; .5 tsp for the mung beans)
100 grams pork belly cut into cubes
1 shallot, sliced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chopped lemongrass
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional, depending on flavor preference)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 shallot, sliced and fried
Banh Chung Wrap
4 pieces banana leaves
Cooking twine (for holding the wrap together)
Step 1: Prepare the Banh Chung Filling
Soak the glutinous rice and the mung beans for at least eight hours.
Drain the soaked mung beans and transfer them into a pot with just enough water to cover them. Cook on a medium heat until the water boils, then let the beans simmer for about half an hour, or until they are soft enough to be mashed easily.
Drain the soaked rice and add a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.
Mix together the pork with the sliced raw shallots, turmeric powder, sliced lemongrass, fish sauce, liquid smoke and half a teaspoon of pepper to the pork mixture.
Mash the drained mung beans with a fork, adding half a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of pepper and a glug of sesame oil.
Continue to mash the mung beans down into a smooth paste and then add the fried shallots. And, maybe just a pinch more salt and pepper to taste.
Lay out a piece of saran wrap and spread out half the mung bean paste you've created into a rough square shape.
Then, add the pork mixture on top.
Then, add the remaining mung bean paste on top.
Use the saran wrap to fold the ingredients into a ball or a cube with pork in the middle and the mashed mung beans on the outside.
Step 2: Wrap the Banh Chung
Wash and dry your banana leaves.
Warm up your leaves a little by passing them over an open gas flame on your stove (without charring them!) or over a hot electric burner.
Lay down one leaf with the dark side up, take a cup of your soaked glutinous rice and place it in the middle of the leaf.
Place your bean and pork ball in the middle of the rice.
Cover with your remaining cup of soaked rice.
As if you are wrapping a present, fold in the sides of the banana leaves to make a square of about five inches in length and two inches in depth. (TIPS: 1. Be sure to pack the contents nice and tight so they don't leak while cooking, but with enough space for the rice to expand while cooking. 2. You can trim the banana leaf down with scissors as needed.)
Repeat with another layer of banana leaf. For your second leaf, have the darker side of the leaf facing outwards.
Use some cooking twine to tie the package together and hold the leaves in place. We were decorative with this, but it doesn't need to be!
Step 3: Cook the Banh Chung
Place your wrapped rice cake in a pot and fill the pot with water, completely submerging your rice cake. Weighing the rice cake down with something heavy to be sure that it remains submerged.
Bring to the soft boil and keep it cooking for six to eight hours. Keep checking the level of the water and be sure to refill with hot water from the kettle once it goes below the level of your banh chung.
Alternatively, cook the banh chung in an Instant Pot, regular pressure cooker or slow cooker. Pressure cooker cooking time should be about three hours, while for slow cookers we recommend following the machine's instructions and cooking on a soup setting. Either way, the banh chung package should still be completely submerged in water throughout the cooking process.
If your banana leaf gets dry at any point (which it probably will) brush it with a little oil to keep the leaf from cracking.
You'll know your banh chung is ready when the package feels firm and it's clear that the rice inside has congealed. Take it out of the water, brush the banana leaf with a little oil and allow it to cool.
When it has cooled sufficiently, cafefully un-tie your cooking twine and peel off the banana leafs (try to keep the leafs in one piece if possible so you can re-use them for serving).
Cut the rice cake into quarters, using the twine that held the parcel together to cut it, or you could try string or dental floss. (We'd recommend not using a knife to do this, as the rice will stick the knife and it could mangle your beautiful rice cake. If you need to use a knife, try thoroughtly oiling the knife before cuting into the rice.)
Step 4: Serve the Banh Chung
Take the same banana leafs used cooking and use them as a bed to serve your rice cake.
Serve with pickled shallots or other pickled vegetables.
Recipe by Arousing Appetites: Home to the Serious Cook at https://blog.arousingappetites.com/banh-chung-vietnamese-steamed-rice-cakes/