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 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.
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