Bánh Tét Recipe

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
Home » Recipes A-Z » Bánh Tét Recipe

Banh Tet is a traditional Vietnamese delicacy enjoyed during the Lunar New Year, known as Tet. This cylindrical glutinous rice cake is wrapped in banana leaves and filled with various ingredients such as mung beans, pork, and sometimes coconut.

People then boil the cake until the rice becomes tender and sticky. Banh Tet holds cultural significance, symbolizing luck, prosperity, and familial unity, and is a cherished part of Vietnamese festivities.

This article is where you can learn more about Banh Tet alongside the basic methods of nailing this traditional Vietnamese dish. Furthermore, you can even learn a couple of helpful tips for making Banh Tet.

Banh Tet1

What Is Banh Tet?

Bánh Tét, Banh Tet, or Vietnamese Sticky Rice Cake, is a traditional cake from Vietnam that holds a special significance during the Tet celebration. Locals make the cake with layers of glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork belly, all wrapped snugly in banana leaves.

The cake can be either savory or sweet, depending on the filling. When the cake includes pork belly, Banh Tet boasts a savory taste, while mung bean or banana fillings lend a sweeter experience.

Commonly, the name “Banh Tet ” is derived from the word “tet,” which means sliced or split, indicating how the cake is traditionally cut. Crafting Banh Tet is no small feat, as the recipe requires time and effort.

Normally, the process often becomes an occasion for families to come together, making it all the more special. While Banh Tet is widely enjoyed throughout Vietnam, the cake is popular in the central and southern regions.

How To Differentiate Between Banh Chung And Banh Tet?

In Vietnam, Banh Tet and Banh Chung have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In terms of shape, Banh Tet takes on a log-like or cylindrical form, while Banh Chung is square.

Regional preferences also play a role: Banh Tet is popular in Central and Southern Vietnam, whereas Banh Chung originates from the North. When it comes to cutting, Banh Tet is sliced into a wheel shape, while Banh Chung is typically cut into triangles.

This comparison not only highlights the difference between Banh Tet and Banh Chung but also captures the unique cultural aspects of Vietnam.

What Are The Tools Needed To Make Banh Tet?

To make Banh Tet, you need to have the required tools, like a big bowl, a cooking pot, a flat winnowing basket, a ladle, a spatula, and a skillet. Therefore, the cake requires many tools to get every step done smoothly.

  • Big bowl: For containing the ingredients, especially the sticky rice, the bigger, the better.
  • Cooking pot: For handling the long boiling process of the Banh Tet. You should get a big cooking pot able to hold a large amount of water for boiling.
  • Flat winnowing basket: For draining the sticky rice after soaking.
  • Ladle: For working on the skillets and other ingredients.
  • Spatula: Aids in the stir-frying process of the sticky rice and helps distribute the rice over the heated skillet evenly.
  • Skillet: For stir-frying the sticky rice.
Banh Tet Tools

What Ingredients Are Necessary For Banh Tet?

These are essential ingredients with sticky rice, green beans, spices, and pork belly needed to nail the flavor and texture of the Banh Tet. You will need ingredients for the sticky rice and mung bean layer, the filling, and the wrapping.

The Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Layer

  • Sticky rice or glutinous rice: The cornerstone of Banh Tet, these sticky grains need soaking before cooking to achieve the right texture.
  • Green beans: From the inner filling under the sticky rice layer and wrap around the pork belly piece.
  • Extracted pandan leaf juice: You can get this by blending the pandan leaves to get the juice that can dye the sticky rice with a beautiful light green and aromatic profile.
  • Coconut milk: Used for stir-frying the sticky rice, providing a sweet taste to Banh Tet.
  • Sugar and salt: For seasoning the sticky rice during the stir-frying process.

The Meat Filling

  • Pork belly: Best to pick fatty sections since the long cooking process may disintegrate much of the fat.
  • Pepper, salt, and sugar: For seasoning the pork belly.
  • Chopped shallots: Adds an aromatic flavor to the pork belly.

The Wrappings

  • Banana leaves: For wrapping the sticky and the filling that shapes the final form of Banh Tet.
  • Bamboo strings: Used for tying and securing the banana leaves around the Banh Tet.

What Steps Are Essential For Making Banh Tet?

For making Banh Tet, there are the processes of working with the sticky rice and then preparing the green beans and pork belly fillings to perfection. Furthermore, shaping the filling and wrapping the cake can be hard for newcomers, but I believe you can nail the recipe with the following 7 steps:

Step 1: Prepare The Sticky Rice

Transfer the sticky rice into your large bowl to soak in water overnight or at least 8 hours.

Banh Tet Step 1 Prepare the Sticky Rice

After soaking the sticky rice, drain the water and wash the rice again with fresh water. Repeat the process until the water is clear. Drain the rice one last time using the flat winnowing basket.

Banh Tet Step 1 Prepare the Sticky Rice1

Step 2: Cook The Green Beans

After getting the green beans, you want to soak them for 4 hours before cooking them in a pot. While boiling the green beans, you want to season the mixture with sugar and salt.

Banh Tet Step 2 Cook the Green Beans

Step 3: Marinade The Pork Belly

Marinade the pork belly with crushed pepper, sugar, salt, and minced shallots. Let the pork belly sit for at least 30 minutes in the mixture.

Banh Tet Step 3 Marinade the Pork Belly

Step 4: Stir-Fry The Sticky Rice

When the sticky rice is dry, proceed to transfer it to your skillet. Then, incorporate the extracted pandan leaf juice, coconut milk, sugar, and salt into the rice. Work the mix around evenly until the water has all evaporated. Kill the heat and let the rice cool down.

Banh Tet Step 4 Stir Fry the Sticky Rice

Step 5: Shape The Banh Tet’s Filling

Shaping the filling helps the final wrapping procedure to be easier. Plus, the cake will also have a much more attractive look.

To do this, you want to pound the green beans into a smooth paste and spread the mixture into a flat, straight piece. Then, proceed to place the pork belly strip over the green bean layer and seal it with another piece of green bean paste.

Banh Tet Step 5 Shape the Banh Tet Filling

Roll the pork belly-filled green bean filling until the bean completely covers the meat. You should aim to get a beautiful cylindrical shape.

Banh Tet Step 5 Shape the Banh Tet Filling1

Step 6: Wrap The Banh Tet

Place the banana leaves over a flat surface like a tray or your clean table. Put two large banana leaves (around 15.7×19.7in) over each other, with the shiny leaf surface facing outward and the rough surface facing inward.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet

Then, place another two smaller banana leaves (11.8×15.7in) in the same direction as the larger leaves.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet1

Proceed to place another large banana leaf (15.7×19.7in) in the middle of the assembled leaves.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet2

Then, you want to place a bamboo string under all the leaf layers.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet3

Spread the sticky rice over the banana leaf surface.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet4

Place the cylindrical filling of green beans and pork belly in the center of the sticky rice.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet5

Add more sticky rice over the top of the filling to cover it.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet6

Hold the two edges from the opposite side of the banana leaves and fold the leaves in half. Then, you want to roll the Banh Tet tightly and secure the cake’s shape by using the bamboo string in the middle.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet7

Fold the leave to seal one end before repositioning the cake vertically on that same end. You can also snip off excess leaves if necessary.

After removing excess leaves, you can put more sticky rice in the open end so the cake can have an equal amount of sticky rice on both sides. Cut two square banana leaves to place inside both ends of the Banh Tet to prevent water from seeping in while cooking.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet8

Wrap the excess leaves tightly before covering them with a cut square banana leaf. Make sure you do this for both ends of the cake.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet9

Then, take 4 rectangular banana leaves to seal both ends by placing the leaves in a crisscross pattern on each end. You can use a rubber band to secure each end once you have the leaves in place.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet10

You can use two bamboo strips and place them vertically according to the Banh Tet to secure both ends of the cake. Note: you should tightly wrap the strips on both sides of the cake to ensure no water can get in the cake while cooking.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet11

Then, you want to use extra bamboo strips to wrap around the cake horizontally. While wrapping the Banh Tet with bamboo strips, you can remove the rubber bands on both ends of the cake and remove the vertical bamboo strings for a more captivating look.

Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet12

Step 7: Boil The Banh Tet

Place any excess banana leaves at the bottom of the pot before introducing the Banh Tet. Pour in water until it covers the cakes completely and simmer for 8 hours straight to cook the cake evenly.
When the water starts to get heated, it shouldn’t be boiling vigorously, which can lead to unevenly cooked sticky rice.

Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet
Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet1

When the water evaporates, fill the pot with extra water to keep the Banh Tet submerged and cooked evenly. After you’re done cooking, transfer the cakes into a cold water bath to wash and cool the cake.

Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet2
Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet3

To cut the Banh Tet, remove the outer banana leaves and place a bamboo string under the cake. Take both ends of the string and pull them in the opposite direction; the string should slice through the cake beautifully.

Alternatively, you can use a knife to simplify the process. To prevent the cake from sticking to the knife, you can wrap the knife with a thin plastic wrapper to help make the cutting process easier.

Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet4

What Tips Do You Need To Know To Make The Perfect Banh Tet?

There are some tips that will help you enjoy your Banh Tet better. Stick around because learning how to store Banh Tet or knowing more about side dishes to accompany the cake can be a game changer for your experience of the delicacy. Here are some tips you need to know:

Banh Tet3
  • After boiling the Banh Tet cake for around 1.5 – 2 hours, you need to flip the cake to another end if you’re cooking the cake vertically.
  • Check for water level frequently as you need the Banh Tet to be fully submerged.
  • Give the cake a cold water bath after finishing the boiling process to clear off any residue or excreted fat.
  • Roll the Banh Tet over the flat surface to reshape the cake into a cylindrical form.
  • If you happen to have insufficient leaves of the same size, I suggest pairing smaller leaves to compensate during the wrapping process.
  • Ideally, you want to refrigerate Banh Tet, so the cake can last longer.
  • Steaming or frying are other options to enjoy Banh Tet after storing.
  • Enjoy Banh Tet with many side dishes like Cu Kieu, Cu Cai Muoi, or Thit Kho Tau to enhance the flavor.

How To Store And Reheat Banh Tet?

You can simply store Banh Tet by wrapping any leftover pieces of Banh Tet food wrappers and placing them in the fridge for storing for up to a week. Better yet, if you have an unopened Banh Tet, the cake can last up to 8 months in the freezer.

Once you want to enjoy the Banh Tet, you can take the cake out of the refrigerator and slice it into wheels. Wait for the slice to be room temperature before heating up your pan and oil for frying. You will end up with crunchy Banh Tet wheels with a completely different texture.

What To Serve Alongside Banh Tet?

Banh Tet is undoubtedly an icon of Vietnamese Tet; however, there are a few accompaniments to enjoy the Banh Tet cake to the fullest:

  • Cu cai muoi: a Vietnamese-style pickled radish dish usually served alongside Banh Chung and Banh Tet. Locals often praise the crunchiness and saltiness of the pickling mixture.
  • Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Belly (Thit Kho Tau): a Vietnamese caramelized pork dish with tender pork belly and eggs cooked in a savory-sweet broth. The dish is a must-have during Tet celebrations, but people also have thit kho tau for common meals.
  • Cu kieu: usually called Allium chinense, or Vietnamese scallion, this crunchy pickle delicacy always appears in a Tet meal. This iconic side dish is a must-try combo with Banh Tet and Banh Chung for the signature mild and fresh taste.

What Are Other Traditional Vietnamese Dishes?

Don’t go yet; here are a few Vietnamese dishes that you may want to try aside from Banh Tet, like Banh Chung, Pho Xao, Banh Gio, Banh Xeo, or Bo Kho. They are tasty and will be a highlight for your next meal when you want to go for an Asian dinner.

  • Vietnamese square sticky rice cake (Banh Chung): a traditional Vietnamese rice cake similar to Banh Tet but comes in a square shape. The cake is a popular item during Lunar New Year or Tet in the north.
  • Vietnamese Stir-Fried Rice Noodles With Beef (Pho Xao): the dish utilizes flat rice noodles of pho for stir-frying with beef and vegetables. Locals often season Pho Xao with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce that goes well with the smoky profile.
  • Vietnamese Rice And Pork Dumplings (Banh Gio): this delightful Vietnamese snack is a combination of soft rice dumplings with a filling of ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms, and simple seasonings. People often steam dumplings to cook it.
  • Savory Vietnamese Crepes (Banh Xeo): a Vietnamese sizzling pancake boasting a delicious crunchy profile. The crepes have a vibrant yellow color and are filled with succulent shrimp, slices of pork or chicken, bean sprouts, and green onions.
  • Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho): a hearty and aromatic Vietnamese beef stew that is beloved for its rich flavors and tender meat. The dish features succulent beef simmered with carrots, potatoes, and onions. Bo Kho is typically served with a side of crusty bread or rice noodles.

Are You Ready To Enjoy Banh Tet?

Banh Tet is a key delicacy in Vietnam for Tet occasions. For that, you should try making this lovely sticky rice cake at home to bring a bit of Vietnamese tradition into your house. Though the process can be tough, I promise the end result is worth the wait.

If you like this Banh Tet recipe, make sure to share the article with people around you so they can know more about classic Vietnamese dishes. I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section; tell me about your best experience with Vietnamese cuisine.

Banh Tet

Banh Tet or Vietnamese Sticky Rice Cake Recipe

Banh Tet is a great way to get to know about Vietnamese culture, especially when people can’t seem to get enough of Vietnamese cuisine. Let me guide you on how to make Banh Tet.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 1143kcal

Ingredients

For the sticky rice and mung bean layer:

  • 17.6 ounces of sticky rice
  • 12.3 ounces of green beans
  • 100 ml of extracted panda leave juice
  • 250 ml of coconut milk
  • 3 teaspoons of sugar 1.5 for the sticky rice and 1.5 for the green beans
  • 2 teaspoons of salt 1 for the sticky rice and 1 for the green beans

For the filling:

  • 14.1 ounces of pork belly
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of minced shallot

For the wrapping:

  • Banana leaves
  • Bamboo strings

Instructions 

  • Soak the sticky rice in water for at least 8 hours or overnight.
    Banh Tet Step 1 Prepare the Sticky Rice
  • Drain and wash the rice with a new batch of water. Repeat the process until the water is clear. Drain the rice one last time using a flat winnowing basket.
    Banh Tet Step 1 Prepare the Sticky Rice1
  • Soak the green beans for at least 4 hours before boiling them. Make sure to season the beans with sugar and salt while boiling them.
    Banh Tet Step 2 Cook the Green Beans
  • Combine crushed pepper, sugar, salt, and minced shallots to marinade the pork belly for roughly half an hour.
    Banh Tet Step 3 Marinade the Pork Belly
  • Stir-fry the sticky rice in a skillet with extracted pandan leaf juice, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Keep stirring the mixture until the liquid is fully evaporated. Remove from heat and let the rice cool.
    Banh Tet Step 4 Stir Fry the Sticky Rice
  • Pound the green beans into a paste-like mixture and spread it over a flat surface. Place a long piece of pork belly over the spread bean and seal the meat with another layer of green bean paste.
    Banh Tet Step 5 Shape the Banh Tet Filling
  • Roll the green bean and pork filling into a cylindrical shape, making sure the bean covers the pork belly completely.
    Banh Tet Step 5 Shape the Banh Tet Filling1
  • Layer a flat surface with two large banana leaves (around 15.7×19.7in) with smooth, shiny surfaces facing outward.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet
  • Place another two smaller leaves (11.8×15.7in) in the same direction as the larger ones.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet1
  • Continue to put another larger leaf in the middle of all the assembled leaves.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet2
  • Place a bamboo string under the first leaf layer.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet3
  • Put a decent amount of sticky rice over the leaf surface.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet4
  • Transfer the cylindrical filling over the sticky rice bed and place it in the center.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet5
  • Pour more sticky rice over the filling to cover it.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet6
  • Hold the two horizontal ends of the banana leaves and fold them in half. Then roll the cake tightly and secure the shape using the bamboo string placed in the middle of the Banh Tet.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet7
  • Fold one end to flip the cake vertically on that same folded side. Pour more sticky rice into the remaining open end of the Banh Tet to evenly distribute the sticky rice.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet8
  • Fold the last open end of the cake and seal both rectangularly cut banana leaves placed on each side.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet9
  • Take another 4 rectangular banana leaves to secure both ends of the Banh Tet. Place the leaves in a crisscross pattern over each side of the cake to prevent water from seeping in while boiling.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet10
  • Take two bamboo strings and tie them in the vertical direction of the Banh Tet to tightly secure both ends of the cake.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet11
  • Then, wrap the bamboo trips horizontally around the cake. Start from the top and work your way down to the bottom of the Banh Tet. Later on, remove the rubber bands and the vertical bamboo strings leaving the horizontal strings only.
    Banh Tet Step 6 Wrap the Banh Tet12
  • Layer the bottom of the pot with any remaining banana leaves to prevent burning and start placing in the Banh Tet. Submerge the cake fully in water and let the fire simmer for 8 hours. Keep the water boiling lightly and not vigorously.
    Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet
  • Make sure to refill the water so the Banh Tet is always submerged and cooked evenly. Remove the Banh Tet and give them a cold water bath to cool off and clean the cake exterior.
    Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet2
  • For cutting the cake, remove the outer banana layer and place a bamboo string under the cake. Pull both ends of the string in opposite directions to cut the cake into a wheel shape. You can also use a knife for cutting.
    Banh Tet Step 7 Boil the Banh Tet4

Video

Notes

  • The recipe is based on 4 servings.
  • When you’re into the cooking process for 1.5 – 2 hours, you need to flip one end of the cake if you’re cooking your Banh Tet vertically in a small pot to ensure even cooking.
  • Make sure to refill the water frequently.
  • After finishing the boiling process, wash the cakes in cold water and roll them over a flat surface for a more appealing cylindrical look.
  • If you can’t get the leaves of the same size or have to work with torn leaves, you can compensate for the missing section with extra leaves.
  • At room temperature, Banh Tet lasts around 5 – 7 days, while the refrigerator can extend that to 2 or 3 weeks.
  • I suggest steaming or frying Banh Tet before enjoying the cake if you’ve already stored Banh Tet in a refrigerator in the first place.
  • Pair Banh Tet with Cu Kieu, Vietnamese caramelized pork belly (Thit Kho Tau), and pickled radish (Cu Cai Muoi) for the best experience.

Nutrition

Calories: 1143kcal | Carbohydrates: 115g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 67g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 2380mg | Potassium: 618mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 620IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 6mg
Tien - Alden

Tien – Alden

Content Writer

Expertise

Home Cooking, Recipe Development, Food Editor, Beverage Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Asian Food Content Creator

Education

Saigon Tourism College

  • Program: Certificate in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines.

Advanced Culinary Workshop, Beijing

  • Program: A three-month intensive program of Advanced Culinary Workshop
  • Focus: Authentic Chinese cuisine.

Vietnamese Traditional Cooking School

  • Program: Certificate of Vietnamese Traditional Cooking
  • Focus: A specialized course on traditional and family recipes passed down through generations.

American College of Vietnam

  • Program: Bartender
  • Focus: Provide background knowledge and help students confident to create appealing drinks

Alden is a skilled chef with expertise in Asian cuisines, known for blending traditional Vietnamese and Chinese cooking with contemporary innovations. Alden’s passion for Asian flavors and her creative approach to both food and beverages inspires fellow chefs and those aspiring to enter the field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *