Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mom's Recipes: Bánh Giò

After my trip to Banff, I went to stay in Montréal with my mother. As usual, she asked me what I wanted to eat and I had been craving bánh giò. Bánh giò is a Vietnamese breakfast food; the best analogy I can think of is a Vietnamese version of tamales (some Latin American countries wrap them in banana leaves rather than corn husk). In Vietnam, it seemed to be an afternoon snack, being sold around 4-5 pm by mobile vendors.

It is actually a Northern Vietnamese dish that my mom only discovered when she studied in Saigon (it was still Saigon then!). She did not have them growing up in Quảng Ngãi. Although it seems common to use corn starch here in North America, my mom thinks they might have used rice flour in Vietnam. I really like these little meat packages covered in banana leaves. The banana leaves gives it such a great aroma and I love the very easy-to-make filling.

Bánh giò, purchased on the street in Vietnam would also have a quail egg inside.

Bánh Giò (makes 24)
My pal The Gastronomer has a quick microwave version. However, I think the extra effort of wrapping them in banana leaves does pay dividends!

The filling is the same that would be used for bánh cuốn. It's basically onion, ground pork, wood ear mushrooms and seasoning. Very easy to make. If you have someone like me around, you might want to make extra because I like to "taste" it...

* oil
* 1 onion, small diced
* ½ cup nấm mèo (wood ear mushroom), soaked, drained and chopped finely
* 500 g ground pork
* 1-½ tsp salt
* 1-½ tsp sugar
* 1-½ tsp pepper, or to taste – we like a lot of pepper

Heat up oil.
Stir fry onion.
Add ground pork and break into pieces.
Add wood ear mushrooms.
Add salt, sugar and pepper and mix.
Adjust seasoning to taste - it can be slightly over-seasoned because the dough is more bland.

Blurry pictures of wood ear mushrooms.

Cooking the ground pork.

Ground pork mixture. Don't you just want to dig in?

With some of the leftover pork mixture, my mom mixed it with some leftover rice. So good!

Exterior "dough"
Use a ratio of 1:3 of cornstarch to liquid. You can use water or any type of broth instead of the chicken broth below but you should add salt for a bit more flavour. You can also add a tablespoon of oil if you want it richer.

* 3 cups cornstarch
* 9 cups chicken broth (or water with a bit of salt and oil)

Heat half of the chicken broth and turn down to a low simmer.
Mix the cornstarch in the other half of the broth.
Add the cornstarch mixture into the heated broth slowly.
Turn the heat off and continue mixing.

The dough should be pretty thick.

To assemble and cook
Bánh giò can be wrapped in any way, but this is the easiest way my mom figured out. She used two pieces of banana leaves to make sure the bánh is fully covered. More banana leaves would be used in Vietnam since they are readily available - we're a bit more economical.

* 1 package banana leaves, cut into about 9”x9”, cleaned and dried
* pork filling
* dough

a few spoons of the batter on a banana leaf in a slightly elongated shape.
Add a spoonful of the filling in the middle.
Pull together the two sides so the dough wraps around the filling.
Simply roll the banana leaf around the bánh.
Place the roll on another banana leaf.
Roll the banana leaf around the package again.
Fold the corners on each side and tuck them under.
The package should sit on the folds so you don’t have to tie them.
Steam for about 15 minutes.

Cleaned and dried banana leaves.

Placing the cornstarch mixture on the banana leaf.

Placing the pork mixture on top.

Closing the package to surround the filling.

Simply roll the banana leaf around the bánh.

Roll the package again in another banana leaf.

Folding the corners on each side.

Tucking each corner under.

After steaming for about 15 minutes.

Ready to break into! When cooked the dough becomes more translucent.

Hmmm! I like the filling and how the smell of the banana leaf infuses the bánh giò!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I run across your blog by accident today. Love bánh giò and thank for beautiful step-by-step pictures, especially the wrapping. I'll try the recipe.

Bubbi/ Linh said...

Hello! It looks absolutely delicious. I have created a blog recently. Pls visit and leave some comments if you have time! Xx

Anonymous said...

Would it be better to use rice flour or is corn starch the only way to go? said...

che bot loc