5 Vietnamese Foods to Try In Time for Tet

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Photo by Nguyen Quan

It's Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration this week, completely with explosions, tradition and food. Want to be an intermediate-level Tet-food-eater? Here are five foods full of glutinous rice, mung beans, and banana leaves for you to try out.

Is it a little work to eat? Yeah, and it might not be the healthiest thing either, but hey, you probably gave up on being leaner already, and you might as well get some good luck (and red envelops) for your hard work.

5. Bánh chưng (Sticky rice cake with pork and beans, pronounced "banh chuung")

Being made!
Being made!

Bánh chưng, the ultimate Tết dish, is a square-shaped rice cake made out of glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork wrapped in banana leaves. The ingredients are soaked and wrapped carefully before being boiled for hours on end, resulting in a rice cake that's soft, moist, stick and wonderful. The preparation's a lot of work, but it's New Years.

To eat bánh chưng, you unwrap the banana leaves the way you would a gift (please, please, please remember to unwrap the banana leaves). From there on out, you can go to town, making your way through all three layers: the rice, the mung beans, and finally, the pork.

4. Xôi gấc (Sticky rice with baby jackfruit, pronounced "soy gahc")


Xôi gấc is bright red, so obvious you should eat it for good luck. Want a good year? Eat xôi gấc. Want to fall in love with a hottie that's sweet and smart? Eat xôi gấc. Want all forms of good fortune? You should probably eat xôi gấc.

Xôi gấc is a sweet glutinous rice dish made with a fruit similar to jackfruit and appears at every joyful Vietnamese celebration. Tết (only the biggest Vietnamese celebration of them all) is, well, no exception. If sweet, chewy xôi is on the dinner table, you know something good is going on, which is all the more reason to celebrate by stuffing your face.

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