Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bánh Da Lợn (Pandan and Mung Bean Sweet)

My sister took advantage of my blog writing and suggested I learn to make bánh da lợn. Her ulterior motive was to have someone make her homemade bánh da lợn! Bánh da lợn is a coconut flavoured sweet, with alternating mung bean and pandan layers. The term "da lợn" means pig skin, referring to the chewy texture similar to pig's skin. The texture comes from the use of tapioca flour.

My mom boasts to have an authentic recipe from my aunt, my father's eldest sister. My father's family is Cantonese and this recipe is originally Chinese. The Chinese name for this sweet treat translates to "nine layer cake" so traditionally, there should be 9 layers. Supposedly, my aunt took cooking lessons in Chợ Lớn, the Chinese district in Saigon. My mom learned the recipe after she came to Canada, during one of our yearly visits to Sandwich, Massachusetts (in Cape Cod) where my aunt now resides.

My mom's notebook with her precious recipes.

Bánh Da Lợn (Pandan and Mung Bean Sweet)
This recipe isn't too difficult, once you translate the "rice bowl" quantities to cups. Steaming each layer is just a bit labour intensive. The liquid to flour ratio should stay consistent. Otherwise, the liquid can be different combinations of coconut milk, milk and water. The liquid is combined with the tapioca and rice flours to make a basic batter that gets divided in two and mixed with pandan leaf and mung beans. The two mixtures should be approximately equal.

Basic Coconut Batter
* 200 g tapioca flour
* 60 g rice flour
* 250 g sugar (reduced from the original recipe - my mom remembered it being too sweet)
* 1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups)
* about ½ cup water or milk (the total of coconut milk and water should add up to 2-½ cups)
* ½ cup water (to dissolve the sugar)

Heat up ½ cup water in a pot and dissolve the sugar in it.
In a bowl, mix the tapioca and the rice flours.
Add the coconut milk, little by little, and mix so the mixture is even.
Add the syrup to the batter (water and sugar).

Mung Bean Mixture
Mung bean is used in both savoury dishes (like bánh ít trần) and sweet dishes like this one in Vietnamese cuisine.

* ¼ package of mung beans – about ¼ lb
* ¾ cups water
* ½ of the coconut batter (above)

Soak mung beans for 2-3 hours.
Rinse the beans and drain.
Cook the mung beans in 3/4 cup of water.
Bring to a boil and turn down to medium.
Cook for another 5 minutes.
Mix and make sure the beans are have softened.
Lower the heat and continue to cook for another 15 minutes until the water has evaporated.
Pound down the mixture to a paste.
*This should make about 1 cup.*
Add half of the coconut batter to the mung bean mixture and blend using an immersion blender, or by hand, until even (we found using the immersion blender prevented having chunks of mung bean).

Coconut batter and the mung bean paste.

The coconut batter being blended with the mung beans.

Pandan mixture
Pandan leaf is commonly used in Vietnamese desserts. It is the source of the green coloured cakes.

about 4-5 pandan leaves - the more added, the greener and flavourful it is.
* ⅜ cup water
* ½ of the coconut batter (above)

Blend the pandan leaves and the water in a food processor.
Drain the pandan through a sieve and discard the pandan remains.
Add the (green) liquid to the remaining half of the coconut batter.
The two mixtures (pandan - green and mung bean - yellow) should be approximately be equal.

Pandan leaves or in Vietnamese, lá dứa.

The pandan leaves, which can be purchased at Asian grocery stores, is blended with water and the liquid is mixed with the coconut batter.

Steaming Bánh Da Lợn

Set up a steamer and bring water to a boil.
Turn down the heat to Medium.
Meanwhile, line a 8” pan with parchment paper.
Place the pan into the steamer.
Add about 2 ladles of the pandan mixture until the surface of the pan is covered (unfortunately, this is when we discovered something was not straight, either the element or the steamer, which would affect the layers of the banh - so make sure nothing is crooked).
Steam for about 4 minutes until the layer is no longer liquid so it can support the next layer – it does not have to be cooked through since it will continue steaming as the layers are added.
Add about 2 ladles of the mung bean mixture and cook for 4 minutes.
*If you look at the top picture, the mung bean layer (yellow) is thicker than the pandan layer (green) because it isn't as runny, so you need a bit more to cover the whole surface area of the pan.*
Repeat until you have a total of 9 layers (optional) or until you run out of the mixtures.
Remove the pan from the steamer.
Let cool and cut into pieces.

Alternating the green and yellow layers.


Wandering Chopsticks said...

This is awesome. I liked how you used real pandan leaves.

TonyC said...

saw banh da lon just yesterday @ the local che store for.. $1.50/pack.

at that price, I think I'd rather just... buy it.

GREAT photos tho!

Anonymous said...

Lovely, gorgeous! You're so luck Ms. Adventure. I'd give my first born for some homemade banh da lon :-)

Miss.Adventure said...

WC: Yes, she always uses real pandan leaves!

Tony: This was a special occasion to learn the recipe! However, we got to eat a lot more than a $1.50 pack!

Thanks Cathy! I realize I'm lucky!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could find fresh pandan leaves here, I like how you cut the cake, beautiful :)

Phan-tabulous said...

Ohmigod, I didn't know you can actually MAKE these. My mother never made these and the only way that I would ever get to eat these is if I tagged along with my mother to her weekly visit to the Asian market.

Mickael B said...

Thank you so much, I pay every week 5€ to pay some banh da lon, now I'll make it on my own (enfin, i'll try...)

Très jolies photos !

Van said...

I'm so glad that I found your blog. I've been searching for this recipe for a while. Other recipes I found don't have a lot of details. Your recipe looks great. I'll give it a try. Thanks for posting!

Amy Nguyen said...

Hi, what do use use to get it with to get that wavy looking shape?

Amy Nguyen

Miss.Adventure said...

You can buy a special cutter that is shaped in those waves. Just try a kitchen store!

Amy Nguyen said...

Thank you Miss Adventure :)

Josh said...

do you happen to know where I can find Pandan leaves in Montreal? I want to try out your recipe. thanks!

Fuong said...

I have been stalking your awesome site ever since I found recipes for Viet foods. I tried this recipe today, and it turned out great! Despite having steam burned my eyeball in the process (full recovery, no injuries all is good), it was fun. The only set back was I didn't have fresh pandan leaves and used pandan flavouring. 2 teaspoons was way too much, a lesson learned for next time. I live in Guelph, not far from Hamilton, what grocery store do you get the leaves?

Marie said...

Hey, I just discovered your site and am extremely impressed at your Vietnamese recipe list!

Unlike other blogs, your instructions are genuine and recipes- authentic. Best of all I can tell they come straight from the experiences of your family kitchen, much like the cooking endeavours I share with my mum!

As I am typing, I have a very promising looking banh da lon cake steaming away.. Thank you, all the way from Australia :)

Miss.Adventure said...

Thanks so much for the compliments! It's nice to hear from readers. Hope the banh da lon turns out tasty! I do find the homemade ones much better than the store bought ones.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ms Adventure,
Thank you for the recipe, could you please advise the water portion of Pandan section. 3/8cup ? (just try to make sure is not mis-typed. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your recipe! I tried it with my mom tonight and it turned out well :)

We put 3/8 cup of the pandan extract/juice but it didn't turn out as green as in your pictures so next time I think we will add more pandan juice in place of some of the water.

Anonymous said...

Great blog!!!
can you provide in deciliters or cups, i dont have a scale so I am not able to get the measurements correctly.

Jennifer Kim said...

Hello! I wanted to make banh da lon with fresh pandan leaves, I mixed them with 100ml water in a mixer to get the juice, as told. now i am wondering how the pure taste of pandan juice is supposed to be like. i've read that one shouldnt use old pandan leaves as the juice will taste bitter. i bought some pandan leaves today and hoped they were fresh (they didnt look or feel dry/old but i couldnt tell whether they were all fresh, they felt good and i cut the ends or parts which didnt feel as fresh as i thought they supposed to) but still the juice tastes kind of bitter. nonetheless, its leaves after all and plants usually got kind of a bitter taste dont they? i m kinda afraid to mess up the cakes tho which is why i am thinking about buying pandan extract as well. what would you suggest?

Miss.Adventure said...

I think my mom buys frozen pandan leaves. I've never tasted it on the juice on its own. I think it should be ok, but if you feel nervous, definitely buy the pandan extract then.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Adventure,

Thank you for this recipe, I have been craving for this dessert and found your blog today:). Will go to market and will try this today!!! I also have been looking for the recipe for "hu tieu ba ma sa dec", it comes with a red sauce of ground meat, I think... Do you happen to know how to make this dish, could you share with me?

Thank you so much for all the recipes you have shared with all of us around the world,


Steeno said...

We've tried your recipe multiple times, it's delicious!

Gwen Mall said...

This is not a Chinese recipe.

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