Banh duc is a plain rice cake made from non-glutinous rice flour and water. You can find banh duc in pretty much every region of Vietnam. By my count there are at least 14 different types of banh duc!
However, I will focus more on the few that I like the most, which include banh duc nong (served hot), banh duc tom / thit (steamed coconut rice cake with shrimps or pork) and banh duc ngot (sweet).
Banh duc is not a well known dish amongst the expats and tourists and definitely not as popular compared to dishes such as pho, banh mi (Vietnamese baguette), banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) and com tam (broken rice). Banh duc is known as a common food (mon an binh dan) for the average Vietnamese because it originated in the countryside, is inexpensive and is a very plain-looking dish.
In Hanoi and the central region, banh duc is served hot, hence the name banh duc nong (nong means hot). The rice flour and water are boiled until thick or flan-like, topped with cooked ground pork, chopped nam meo (wood ear mushroom), fried tofu, hanh phi (fried onion) and fish sauce. It is a very popular dish especially in the winter time in the north and central region.
Another popular variation is called banh duc dau phong (peanuts), whole peanuts are added when boiled, and the mix is then cooled and cut into small bite-size pieces. It should be served plain with either nuoc tuong (soy sauce) or mam tom (fermented shrimp paste).
In Saigon you have banh duc dua (steamed rice cake infused with coconut milk). It is a much thicker style, about an inch to an inch and a half thick. Steam it with coconut milk and let it cool. Once cool it is then cut into bite-sized rectangular pieces, topped with a stir fried mixture of ground pork, green onions, cu sang (chopped jicama) and chopped wood ear mushroom. Add mo hanh (scallions oil), hanh phi (fried onions) and nuoc cham (marinated fish sauce). Another version is to substitute ground pork for ground dried shrimp flakes.
Another popular dish in Saigon is called banh duc ngot (sweet). Banh duc ngot is considered more as a dessert because it is sweet. It is infused with la dua (pandan) to make it green, with a lovely pandan fragrance. It should be topped with rang me (toasted sesame seeds), nuoc duong gung (ginger sugar syrup) and finished with coconut cream.
1. Banh Duc Nong Ba Gia
76 Cuu Long Street, District 10. Open 2pm to 10pm daily.
2. Banh Duc Phan Dang Luu
116/11 Phan Dang Luu Street, Phu Nhuan District. Open 3pm to 6pm daily.
3. Banh Duc Nong Ty Muoi
212/72 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1. Open 11am to 8pm Monday to Friday.
4. Banh Duc La Dua – Ba Nam
I know this one is quite far from the city but if you’re ever in Hoc Mon (they are well-known for the banh duc pandan), give them a try. They have a facebook page so you can check them out. Maybe they will make a delivery. www.facebook.com/banhducladua-banam.