Banh nam is a traditional Vietnamese dish that consists of steamed rice dumpling with a flavorful filling. The rice dumplings are made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca starch, giving them a slightly chewy texture. The filling typically includes ingredients such as shrimp and lean pork, which are seasoned with salt and pepper and stir-fried before being incorporated into the rice dumpling.
The name “Banh Nam” or “Bánh Nậm” translates to “steamed flat dumpling” in Vietnamese, referring to the shape and method of preparation. The dumplings are usually rectangular or oval-shaped and are wrapped in banana leaves or steamed on plates. They are commonly served as a main dish and can be enjoyed with dipping sauce or fish sauce.
Banh nam is known for its delicate flavors and pleasing texture, making it a popular choice in Vietnamese cuisine. It is often served during special occasions, festivals, or as a comforting homemade dish.
The origin of banh nam
The exact origin of banh nam is believed to have originated in the central region of Vietnam, particularly in the areas of Hue and Quang Nam. These regions are known for their rich culinary traditions and are famous for their diverse range of rice-based dishes.
Banh nam is considered a specialty of the central region of Vietnam, where it is commonly found in local markets, street food stalls, and traditional restaurants. The dish has become a part of the region’s culinary heritage and is often associated with the cuisine of Hue, known for its sophisticated and refined flavors.
Banh nam recipe
Banh Nam Recipe
Indulge in the flavors of traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Banh Nam, a delightful steamed rice cake filled with savory shrimp and pork. Experience the soft texture and aromatic blend of ingredients. Try our authentic Banh Nam recipe today!
- Steamer or large pot with a steaming basket
- 250 grams of rice flour
- 250 grams of rice flour
- 100 grams of shrimp
- 100 grams of lean pork
- 600 milliliters of water
- 100 grams of roasted cashew powder (for coloring)
Prepare the filling:
Clean and finely chop the shrimp and lean pork.
Marinate the shrimp and pork with a pinch of salt, sugar, seasoning powder, chicken stock powder, and pepper to infuse the flavors.
Heat a pan with some cooking oil, then add minced garlic and shallots. Sauté until fragrant and golden.
Add the shrimp and pork mixture and quickly stir-fry until they are cooked and the liquid is reduced.
After stir-frying, add roasted cashew powder for a beautiful red color. Continue cooking until the shrimp and pork are fully cooked and the filling is dry. Turn off the heat.
Make the flat rice dumpling batter:
In a mixing bowl, combine rice flour and tapioca starch.
Add filtered water, cooking oil, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
Heat a pot over medium-low heat and quickly stir the batter until it thickens and becomes slightly translucent.
Wrap the flat rice dumplings:
Wash banana leaves and blanch them briefly in boiling water with a pinch of salt to soften them while retaining their green color. Alternatively, you can lightly heat the banana leaves to make them more pliable for wrapping.
Cut the leaves into rectangular pieces measuring approximately 20 cm x 15 cm.
Brush a little oil on the banana leaves (the side without veins), then spread a thin layer of the rice batter on top.
Place a portion of the shrimp and pork filling in the center of the rice batter.
Fold the sides of the leaves over the filling, then fold the ends, creating a rectangular shape. Gently press the dumplings with your fingers to spread the batter evenly.
Place the wrapped dumplings in a steamer and steam for about 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the dipping sauce:
To enhance the flavor of the dish, prepare a dipping sauce. Start by heating a saucepan and adding fish sauce and sugar. Bring it to a boil until the sugar dissolves.
Let the mixture cool down, then add lime juice and minced chili and garlic. Adjust the spiciness according to your preference.
Typically, the ratio of rice flour to water is 1:2 (rice flour to water).
- Steaming time: Avoid steaming the rice dumplings for too long, as this can cause them to become soggy. Steaming for approximately 10-15 minutes should be sufficient to cook the rice dumplings thoroughly without making them overly soft.
- Mixing the batter: When mixing the rice dumpling batter, make sure to stir it well with low heat. This helps prevent the formation of lumps and ensures a smooth and consistent texture. Stirring continuously will also prevent the batter from sticking to the pot and forming clumps.
- Consistency of the batter: Pay attention to the consistency of the batter. It should be slightly thick and have a slightly translucent appearance. Adjust the amount of water or rice flour if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. A proper consistency is crucial to obtaining the right texture for the rice dumplings.
- Avoid lumps: To prevent the rice dumpling batter from forming lumps, continue stirring immediately after turning off the heat until the batter becomes smooth and free of any clumps. This step ensures a smooth and cohesive texture in the final rice dumplings.
How to serve banh nam?
Once the banh nam is cooked, remove from the steamer. Serve the banh nam warm, accompanied by the prepared dipping sauce.
Banh nam nutrition facts
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Variations of banh nam
Banh nam with mung bean filling
In addition to the savory version with shrimp and pork filling, banh nam can also be made with a sweet filling of mung beans. The mung beans are cooked, mashed, and sweetened before being used as the filling for the rice dumplings. This variation offers a delightful combination of the soft and aromatic mung bean filling with the tender rice dumpling exterior.
Banh nam with ground shrimp filling
Instead of using whole shrimp, this variation involves using ground shrimp as the filling. The shrimp is finely minced and seasoned before being cooked and used as the flavorful filling for the rice dumplings. This variation provides a different texture and distribution of shrimp throughout the rice dumplings.
Vegetarian banh nam
Another unique variation is the vegetarian banh nam. It is made using vegetarian ingredients such as vegetarian floss (made from soy protein), vegetarian dried shrimp, and served with soy sauce and sliced fresh chili. This vegetarian version has gained popularity not only during special occasions but also as a familiar breakfast or snack option.
Other traditional Vietnamese dishes made from rice that you might enjoy
- Banh Beo: Banh Beo is a popular Vietnamese dish consisting of small, round rice cakes topped with various savory ingredients such as dried shrimp, scallions, and crispy pork rinds. It is typically served with a dipping sauce and is known for its delicate texture and flavorful toppings.
- Banh Bot Loc: Banh Bot Loc is a type of translucent, chewy rice dumpling filled with minced pork and shrimp. It is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed to perfection. Banh Bot Loc is often enjoyed with a tangy dipping sauce and is appreciated for its unique texture and savory taste.
- Banh Uot: Banh Uot, also known as Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolls, are thin, delicate rice sheets that are steamed until soft and slightly chewy. They are often served with grilled meats, fresh herbs, and a savory dipping sauce. Banh Uot is a versatile dish and can be enjoyed as a main course or a snack.
- Banh Duc: Banh Duc is a simple Vietnamese rice cake made from rice flour and water. It has a smooth and slightly gelatinous texture and is usually served in slices. Banh Duc can be enjoyed with a variety of toppings such as ground pork, fried shallots, and soy sauce, making it a comforting and satisfying dish.
What’s different between banh nam and banh gio?
Banh nam is a steamed rice dumpling typically filled with a savory mixture of shrimp, pork, and aromatic herbs. It is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to create a soft and delicate texture. On the other hand, banh gio is a pyramid-shaped rice dumpling wrapped in banana leaves and made from a mixture of rice flour, tapioca starch, and ground pork. The filling of Banh Gio is typically more substantial and includes minced pork, mushrooms, and sometimes quail eggs.
Where to buy banana leaves?
Explore the vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cuisine with Fresh Banana Leaves available on Amazon. Perfect for wrapping traditional dishes like banh nam and other delectable treats, these fresh leaves will add an authentic touch to your culinary adventures.
How to tell if banh nam is well cooked?
To determine if banh nam is cooked and ready to be served, check for the following signs. Firstly, observe the texture: the dumpling should be soft, slightly gelatinous, and bounce back when gently pressed. Secondly, examine the color: ripe banh nam has a translucent appearance with a white or creamy hue throughout. Lastly, assess the firmness: a ripe banh nam should hold its shape without disintegrating, while still being tender and easy to bite into.
How to store and reheat banh nam?
Storing: Freeze banh nam in freezer-safe bags or containers. Frozen banh nam can be stored for up to 1 month.
Reheating: Place the frozen or refrigerated banh nam in a steamer basket or a steaming dish and steam them over medium heat until heated through.
Banh nam is a delightful Vietnamese dish that showcases the artistry and flavors of traditional cuisine. With its soft and fragrant rice cake wrapped in banana leaves, filled with a savory mixture of shrimp and pork, banh nam offers a culinary experience that is both visually appealing and incredibly delicious. Whether you enjoy it as a special treat during festive occasions or as a comforting snack, banh nam brings a taste of Vietnam to your table. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the joy of crafting these delicate rice cakes, and savor the delightful flavors of banh nam.