Bánh Chưng

A few friends and I first experienced this traditional Vietnamese Tết (Lunar New Year) food while visiting years ago. We loved it, and recently I looked up how to make it myself. It’s not a well known food in the US, so I thought it would still be fun to share.

I followed the recipe from “Enjoy a simple life“, but made a homemade cardboard mold as suggested by “Takes Two Eggs“.

Like a bread, this recipe takes a fair bit of time. I would start in the morning.

  1. Soak rice and mung beans overnight. Marinate seitan or meat.
  2. About 30 minutes of cooking. Boil beans and rice.
  3. About 30 minutes wrapping and packaging.
  4. Finally, an 8-12 hour boil in a big pot of water.

Ingredients needed:

  • Seitan or pork belly (optional), 4-8 oz
  • 5 c glutinous rice, lightly rinsed twice and soaked overnight
  • 2½ c dried slit mung beans, washed and soaked overnight
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, use white part, thinly sliced
  • 2 t salt
  • 3 t black pepper
  • 1 t sugar
  • 2 t good soy sauce
  • 2 T fish sauce or 1 T mushroom powder
  • ½ c vegetable or peanut oil

Additional supplies:

  • Banana leaves (defrosted)
  • Twine, string, etc
  • Scissors
  • Plastic wrap
  • Aluminium foil
  • Cardboard and packing tape to make a mold. I used a soda box

Ingredient Prep:

  1. Cook rice with salt.
  2. Steam mung beans. Food-process them.
  3. Fry shallots and leeks in oil. Add seasonings.
  4. Remove from heat. Add the rest of the oil and mung beans. Mix thoroughly.

Making the cakes:

  1. Place the square cardboard mold on a sheet of plastic wrap.
  2. Put two cut banana leaves inside to form a little square pocket.
  3. In the pocket, layer ½ c rice, ¼ c mung beans mix, strips of meat or seitan, ¼ c mung beans, and ½ c rice.
  4. Fold the banana leaves over, and remove the mold. Close the plastic wrap to hold everything together.
  5. Wrap the plastic wrap in a layer of alumnium foil.
  6. Tie the foil shut with string.

Once you have all your cakes made, boil them at a low simmer for 8-12 hours. Your cakes are done.

They last weeks and stay pretty tasty. You can freeze them if you want them to last even longer.


  1. https://enjoyasimplelife.blogspot.com/2012/01/vegetarian-sticky-rice-banh-chung-chay.html
  2. https://takestwoeggs.com/banh-chung/

Roasted Chickpeas

roastedHere’s how you make roasted chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans):

  1. Set the oven to 400F.
  2. Drain and empty a can or so of chickpeas into a collander and wash them
  3. Dry the chickpeas (this is the hard step). I use paper towels, but I haven’t figured out a way to not use a billion of them.
  4. Put them in a short pan in the oven and cover them in olive oil. Toss them some with your hands to get them coated.
  5. Cook for 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan so everything turns every 10 minutes. I like them crispy so I do 30 minutes.
  6. Take them out and transfer them to a bowl. Add spices. I like salt, garlic powder, and pepper.


Steak Tartare

steak tartare
Recipe is mostly from Tricia.


  • 8-10 oz fresh steak, with salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp capers and/or 2 Tbsp diced olives
  • 3 tsp brown mustard
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp finely diced, fresh red onions
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  1. Remove all fat and tendons from the steak. Season it lightly with salt and pepper, and sear lightly on high heat to make it safe to eat. Slice the meat into very thin (2mm) strips, arrange in two piles. Coat the meat in olive oil. Push a small divot into each pile.
  2. Dice olives and onions. Add capers, mustard, and red pepper. Mix together and pour into meat piles equally, or surround the meat with it.
  3. Separate whites and yolks (carefully removing all the white since we’re using raw yolks). Pour one egg yolk into each divot.

Read about raw beef and egg safety first to be well informed.