A week of Vietnamese cooking has left me with a lot of bahning bang banh fun and deliciousness. Out of the four recipes I usually make for each country for the FWA, three have the word Bánh on its name. Bánh Xèo, Bánh Mì and Bánh Cam, a crepe, a sandwich and a stuffed rice flour fritter. At first it may all sound confusing, but I’m sure that if you take some time to analyze it, you’ll figure out what the word Bánh is. Or not… I had to Google the answer before hitting myself in the head for not noticing what is now the obvious similarity between the three.
Now, if you are still scratching your head about why Bánh Cam is also a Bánh just like Bánh Mì and Bánh Xeo, I’ll fill you in the details. SPOILER ALERT!! The word bánh is used rather willy nilly to anything resembling a “cake”. In Vietnamese language, mostly anything containing either rice or wheat flour will have the word bánh on its name. That gives us the literal translations of “Sizzling cakes” for Bánh Xèo; “Wheat cake” or “Bread” for Bánh Mì; and finally “Orange Cake” for Bánh Cam.
Enough with the pseudo Vietnamese language class, let’s talk food now and quickly explain what these Orange Cake Ban Bang Bánh Cam. Well, first of all, it is NOT an orange cake! It is shaped like an orange but it’s not necessarily a cake. What it IS, is a round glutinous rice flour fritter, covered with sesame seeds and stuffed with (in today’s case) orange and coconut mung bean paste.
There are many varieties of Bánh Cam, which is also very similar to another dessert called Bánh Rán. They both are from the South of Vietnam and are fried balls of glutinous rice flour. They differ in that Bánh Rán is flavoured with jasmine, and as attractive as that may sound, I couldn’t find any, so Báhn Cam it is… As for the stuffing, the possibilities are endless. However, the yellow mung bean sweetened with coconut is a very popular choice among Vietnamese people. For this recipe, I added some orange juice and zest to further enhance the mung bean flavour.
- 2 cups split yellow mung beans
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- zest of 1 orange, about 2 tbsp
- 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 16 oz glutinous rice flour
- 3 tbsp rice flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- about 1 cup raw white sesame seeds
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- Wash and drain the mung beans well, then place them on a saucepan with the water, sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and sunflower oil. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 1 hour. Stir often so that the beans don't stick to the sides or bottom of the pan.
- Let the beans cool to room temperature. They should already look mushy, but you can mash them further using a regular potato masher or a ricer. Add the coconut flakes and orange zest, mix thoroughly. Cover and let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
- Place the potato flakes in the bowl of a stand mixer. Alternately, on a bowl.
- Place the water, sugar and oil in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.
- Pour the boiling water mixture over the mashed potato flakes. Stir this mixture for about 2 minutes until it thickens no more.
- In a separate bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour, rice flour and baking powder.
- Using a hook attachment on low speed for the stand mixer or your hands, slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the mashed potato. Then, knead lightly just until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour. You should get a very smooth dough that is not sticky.
- Meanwhile, use a tbsp to measure 1 tbsp portions of the filling and use your hands to shape it into balls. Place them on the fridge until ready to use.
- Prepare a dish with the sesame seeds.
- Once rested, use a tbsp to measure 1 tbsp portions of the dough, shape into balls then flatten with your hands. Place a ball of filling in the middle, close up the dough to completely surround and cover the filling, then smooth out the surface by rolling between the hands. Then roll the ball of dough on the sesame, pressing gently so that they stick to the surface. Repeat the process, you should get 35 - 40 Báhn Cam balls.
- Heat the vegetable oil to 375°F. Deep fry the balls, moving them constantly so they cook evenly. Once golden, transfer to a dish covered in paper towel to drain excess oil. EAT!