Monday, January 23, 2012

happy lunar new year! + bánh tét {holiday} | san francisco, ca

We wanted to wish everyone a happy Lunar New Year!  We typically don't celebrate in style or do anything grand.  Rather, our family and friends usually gather around this time to just share laughs, indulge in some good traditional new-year-favorite snacks and food, and to wish for good fortune and health for the new year.  Lots of celebrations and events are happening in the Bay Area in February, like the annual Southwest Airlines-sponsored Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco, which is happening on February 11th so mark your calendars!  Hope you guys can find some similar events and celebrations happening in a city near you.

Since we're so passionate about food, we wanted to share one of our favorite Lunar New Year dishes. Bánh tét is absolutely fabulous for its complex taste and mixture of textures, despite the deceiving simplicity of its appearance and ingredients.  Bánh tét is best described as a savory roll made of glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork meat/fat.  (Okay, this last bit may sound gross to some of you, but it really is part of the delicious glue that holds it all together.)  The ingredients are all assembled together and then rolled into banana leaves in preparation for boiling.  Check out gast-ron-o-my for a more detailed picture of what this whole process entails.  Bánh tét is traditionally a southern Vietnamese dish and term;  the northern equivalent is bánh chưng, which is square-shaped rather than rolled.  An interesting fact is that bánh tét and bánh chưng are supposed to represent the sun and the earth respectively through their shapes (a beautiful comparison)!

Bánh tét is typically sliced into discs and can be pan-fried and/or eaten with fish sauce. (If you don't know what fish sauce is, check out this article about the history of the Red Boat brand that's informative on the process).  I am a big fan of combining the savory with the sweet, so my preference is simple: warmed with a sprinkle of sugar.

You can buy yourself some of this yummy goodness usually at a Vietnamese bakery or Asian grocery store.  There are also vegetarian options of this roll (usually filled just with the mung bean paste, which is equally as delicious!).  The sad thing is that this delight is only sold around the Lunar New Year period, so give this amazing dish a try now if you can!

We hope you have a lovely year and wish you all happiness, health, and prosperity for this lunar new year!  Love, Fizzy Photography.


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