Mother’s rice cakeFor Mrs. Quach Thi Hoan, born in 1961, in Lang Giang hamlet, Thai Nien commune (Bao Thang district), the rice cakes, also known as sticky rice cakes, which she was taught the "secret" by her mother-in-law since becoming her daughter-in-law, which has become her family's favorite dish for decades.
According to Ms. Hoan, her husband's parents were originally from Hung Yen, who came to Lao Cai to reclaim and live nearly 60 years ago. For more than 40 years as daughter-in-law, Mrs. Hoan has been taught by her parents-in-law about the family's customs and traditions, including how to make dishes that are still favorite dishes and enjoyed by her extended family and considered as traditional dishes for every holiday, full moon day, first day, birthday celebration, wedding or simply an opportunity to meet family members. One of the most favourite dishes is rice cakes.
Ms. Hoan said: Here it is called sticky rice cakes, but in my mother's hometown, people often call it rice cakes. When I first became daughter-in-law, every year I used to watch my mother-in-law make rice cakes. My mother-in-law made it very well, very delicious, her children and grandchildren all loved to eat. Now she is almost 90 years old, not healthy enough to sit and make cakes anymore, but I have been taught to make a lot by my mother-in-law, so far more than ten years now, every year, I replace my mother to make rice cakes for the whole family to enjoy.
Mrs. Hoan was taught by her mother-in-law how to make rice cakes since she became daughter-in-law.
The rice cakes at first are quite simple: It is a cake made of glutinous rice flour, filled with mixed meat and wrapped with banana leaves. However, to make that cake it is required to go through complicated stages. Ms. Hoan usually makes for about 3 hours to get a batch of rice cakes, about 40 pieces. But before that, she has to soak the rice for 3-5 hours before grinding it into powder. After the rice has been milled into very fine powder, she adds water and salt, then stirs continuously on the stove until the flour is cooked evenly, thickened, and fragrant. The amount of water mixed into the dough depends on the amount of flour, but it greatly affects the quality of the crust. For experienced people like Ms. Hoan, the addition of water has "right amount" and the quality of the crust has never failed.
According to Ms. Hoan, the "tip" to having a delicious cake that she was taught by her mother-in-law is to choose Bao Thai rice to make the dough, the cake will be more fragrant and delicious than other types of rice. When cooking the dough, it must be cooked in a cast iron pot, on the firewood stove and the cake must be wrapped as soon as the dough is still hot, soft and flexible. If it is cooled down, the dough will harden into pieces, making it difficult to add filling.
For the filling, the necessary ingredients include: Ground meat, wood ear mushroom, chopped dried onions and then fried, adding just enough spices. After wrapping with banana leaves, it will be put in a steamer on a fire for about 1 hour. To know whether the cakes are qualified or not, according to Mrs. Hoan's experience, when taking out the cake, peeling off the outer layer of banana leaves, if the banana leaves are sloppy, do not stick to the dough and the cakes are green, these cakes are just delicious. Ms. Hoan said more: The cakes can be eaten immediately, but it will be more delicious if they are dipped with fish sauce, garlic - chili - sour.
Although the method and recipe are quite similar to the sticky rice cakes that many places still make, Ms. Hoan's rice cakes is different in their shape. While sticky rice cakes is usually sold in a hand-shaped package as high as the hand, the cakes that Mrs. Hoan was taught by her mother-in-law are elongated, only slightly cupped in the middle.
While Mrs. Hoan are busy with the job of wrapping cakes, her youngest daughter Dao Thi Hong is preparing the fire and steaming cakes for her mother. Ms. Hong said: When I was a child, every time we had Tet holiday, or family meeting, my sisters and I were often eager to run to my grandparents' house early to be given the rice cakes by her grandmother. The taste of the cake made us mesmerized until now. I am learning how to make cakes from my mother and often take advantage of my holidays to help my mother steam cakes and deliver cakes to shops, restaurants or other places where my mother's cakes are ordered.
Thanks to the social network, her daughters have helped Ms. Hoan promote the family's traditional cakes. Many orders from there also placed. 8,000 dong for wholesale price, 10 thousand dong for retail price, the income from selling rice cakes has not helped Ms. Hoan's family get rich, but it also helps support the family's living expenses. Not only that, those cakes have long held special meaning to each member of Mrs. Hoan's family, because every time they enjoy the rich flavor of the cake, they remember their childhood to gather together, enjoy the delicious cakes made from skillful hands and boundless love of their grandmother and mother.