Flattened Rice in the Mekong Delta

It seems as if the whole of Vietnam is gearing up for the Mid-Autumn Festival, this year falling on September 27, 2015. Pop-up shops selling moon cakes can be seen along every busy street and children are starting to collect bamboo to make frames for their paper lanterns.

The festival has its roots in celebrating the end of the rice harvest, so it should come as no surprise that traditional Mid-Autumn Festival (in Vietnamese: T?t Trung Thu) foods are simple and earthy, highlighting the bounty of the land.

Off the many waterways surrounding the city of Can Tho in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, we’re in search of a family who makes c?m, or flattened rice, often offered to worship the ancestors in the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Jumping off our boat, we walk down some dirt paths, being led by a little neighbor girl, and finally stumble upon a scene of an ethnic Khmer family working together to produce these flat, light, dry flakes that will be made into cakes, or eaten with bananas and coconut milk, a favorite local dessert.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-03b

The process to make flattened rice is labor-intensive. First, the glutinous rice is soaked overnight.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-01

The immature rice kernels are then roasted over very low heat…

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-02b

… which serves to dry the kernels out and infuse them with an appealing smoky flavor.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-02

Then, using a large mortar and pestle, the rice is pounded flat. The husband and wife team keep a rhythm going, both pounding and moving the rice kernels around so that they’re evenly flattened.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-03a

Then comes the process of separating the grains from the chaff.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-05

And a final picking out of little broken bits.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-07

What’s left are beautifully flattened, even flakes of rice. In some parts of Vietnam, these are dyed green using pandan leaves.

VCT - Cottage Industries - Com - James Pham-08
For the Mid-Autumn Festival, the flattened rice is soaked in water until it expands, and then mixed with a sweetened mung bean paste and formed into little cakes.

VCT - Cottage Industries - 10

Vietnam’s Mid-Autumn Festival is all about sharing in the harvest, which is why flattened rice cakes and moon cakes are often given as gifts to friends and family, a gift of thanksgiving for the bounty of the harvest.

VCT - Cottage Industries - 09

If you find yourself in the Mekong Delta during the weeks leading up to the Mid-Autumn Festival (this year on September 27, 2015), stop by the lovely Victoria Can Tho Resort and try our delicious homemade moon cakes along with a cup of coffee or tea. Details here: http://www.victoriahotels.asia/en/news/220-celebrate-the-mid-autumn-festival-with-moon-cakes. The Victoria Can Tho Resort also has its own boat and guide, available for exploring the fascinating rivers and waterways of the Mekong Delta.

 

 

Flattened Rice in the Mekong Delta
Rate this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (2)

    Odhiambo Ambala

    Hallo. I would like to know and learn more about making flattened rice in Vietnam.
    Comprehensive catalogues/PDF files would be highly appreciated.
    Thank you.

    Reply
      James Pham

      Hi! Thanks for reading our blog. We’re featuring this practice from a tourist’s perspective only. Sorry can’t help you with the technical aspect of it!

      Reply