Bánh Tro

Bánh tro is a traditional Vietnamese pyramidal dumpling made from glutinous rice soaked in ash water.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
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Fact: Bánh tro is notable for its association with the Doan Ngo Festival (also known as pest-killing festival).

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Basic Information

Bánh Tro: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/Bahn tro/

Alternative Name(s)

Bánh gio, bánh ú tro, bánh lẳng, bánh âm, bánh coóc mò, bánh nẳng

Dish Type

Desserts, glutinous rice dishes, dumplings

Course

Dessert

Mealtime

Anytime

Popular Variations

No
Origin and Region

Bánh Tro: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Bánh Tro: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Glutinous rice, mung beans, ash water or lye water

Main Cooking Method

Boiling

Preparation Process

Soaking rice, mixing with ash, filling preparation, boiling
A Deep Dive

Bánh Tro: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

Traditional Vietnamese dish for Đoan Ngọ festivals

Taste

Sweet

Texture

Chewy and sticky

Aroma

Neutral

Color

Light green or yellow-orange color depending on the type of lye water used.

Serving Style

Usually served wrapped in banana leaves, unwrapped before eating.

Serving Temperature

At room temperature

Accompaniment

  1. Mật Mía (sugarcane syrup)
  2. Sugar

Occasions

Festivals

Seasons

Summer

Special Diets

Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian

Calories

370 calories per 1 traditional bánh tro without filling

Popularity

Vietnam

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Bánh Ú
  2. Bánh Ít
  3. Bánh Gai
  4. Zongzi

Popular Dining Area

Street vendors, households

Bánh tro is a Vietnamese pyramid dumpling made with the main ingredient of glutinous rice soaked in ash water (from ash of tree leaves, especially bamboo leaves) and wrapped in leaves, then boiled in a pot.

Banh Tro Overview

Bánh ú tro is a variant of bánh ú in Vietnamese cuisine and a Vietnamese-adapted Jianshui Zong (Chinese alkaline water zong).

Bánh tro is particularly popular during the Doan Ngo Festival, a traditional Vietnamese event. The cake is believed to bring good luck and health, making it a significant part of Vietnamese culinary tradition.

Let’s explore the intricacies of tro, including its alternative names, key ingredients, popular variants, preparation method, accompaniments, places to purchase it, its benefits and drawbacks, common queries, and dishes akin to it.

Key Points

  • Bánh Tro is associated with the Doan Ngo Festival in Vietnam, known as the pest-killing festival.
  • Bánh Tro is considered a bringer of good luck and health, important in Vietnamese culinary tradition.
  • Bánh tro can be accompanied by mật mía (sugarcane syrup), or sugar.

Bánh Tro Images

What Are Other Names of Bánh Tro?

The name “bánh tro” (or “gio”), “bánh nẳng” originates from the most essential ingredient that characterizes the cake: ash water (also known as “nẳng” water) made from the ashes of burned herbs and medicinal plants.

“Bánh ú tro” also describes the shape of the cake, as it is often wrapped in a pyramid shape, bulging high like a clenched hand.

Most people refer to it as “bánh tro” or “bánh gio”. In the northeastern mountainous regions such as Bac Kan and Cao Bang, it is called “bánh coóc mò”. In the Vinh Phuc and Phu Tho areas, it is known as “bánh nẳng”. In some regions of Bac Ninh and Hung Yen, it is referred to as “bánh âm”.

Though bánh tro features diversity in naming, yet they all revolve around the key ingredients of bánh tro.

What Are Key Ingredients of Bánh Tro?

Listed below are the 4 key ingredients of bánh tro and their distinctive characteristics:

Nuoc Tro

Ash Water

Made from burnt coal ash or lime powder, this unique ingredient is used to soak the rice and gives the cake its distinctive color and texture.

Glutinous Rice

Glutinous Rice

Glutinous rice is used as the primary ingredient for the cake.

Mung beans

Fillings

Green bean paste is commonly used for the cake’s filling. Other filling options include red bean paste or grated coconut.

La Dong

Wrapping Material

Banana leaves are commonly used for wrapping the cake before cooking. Alternatively, bamboo leaves or dong leaves can also be used.

Understanding these key ingredients is crucial in the process of how to make bánh tro, where the combination of ash water-soaked glutinous rice, chosen fillings, and the type of wrapping leaves are carefully balanced to create this traditional delicacy.

How to Make Bánh Tro?

Here’s the detailed step-by-step process for making bánh tro:

Step 1: Soak the Rice

Soak the glutinous rice in ash water or lye water for 4-5 hours or overnight, then drain and let it dry.

Step 2: Grind the Rice

Grind the soaked rice to a fine, smooth powder, or use pre-made glutinous rice flour.

Step 3: Prepare the Dough

Mix the glutinous rice flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Gradually add water and knead into a soft, pliable dough.

Step 4: Shape the Dough

Divide the dough into small portions and shape them into balls.

Step 5: Add Filling

Flatten a dough ball, place a teaspoon of green bean paste in the center, and wrap the dough around the filling.

Step 6: Wrap in Banana Leaves

Cut banana leaves into rectangles, blanch to soften, then wrap each dough ball in a leaf and secure it.

Step 7: Steam the Cakes

Steam the wrapped cakes for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and translucent.

Step 8: Cool and Serve

Let the cakes cool before unwrapping and serving​.

After cooling, these bánh tro can be further enhanced by serving them with accompaniments, adding another layer of flavor to this traditional treat.

What to Serve with Bánh Tro

Bánh tro is a simple cake, light in flavor and often paired with sweet dips to enhance its taste. Two popular accompaniments are mật mía and sugar.

Mat Mia

Mật Mía

Mật mía, or sugarcane syrup, is a common dip for bánh tro. To prepare it, sugarcane juice is filtered to remove impurities and then boiled until it thickens into a rich, amber-colored syrup. This sweet and slightly cool-tasting syrup complements the subtle flavor of Bánh Tro, making it more enjoyable​​.

Sugar White

Sugar

Given the neutral taste of bánh tro, dipping it in sugar would likely add a sweet contrast, enhancing the overall flavor experience.

To fully appreciate this sweet and savory combination, it’s best to try bánh tro at local markets or traditional eateries in Vietnam, where it’s freshly made and served with these authentic dips.

Where to Buy Bánh Tro?

Discover the best locations to acquire bánh ú in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang below:

In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

Pyramidal Rice Dumpling Village along Pham The Hien Street
Pham The Hien Street, District 8, Ho Chi Minh City
Chinese Quarter in Cho Lon
Visit the Chinese community in districts 5 and 6, with streets like Nguyen Trai, Lao Tzu, Gia Phu, Ta Uyen…
Major Market Areas
You can visit areas like Phung Hung (District 5), Ba Chieu Market (Binh Thanh District), Hoang Hoa Tham Market (Tan Binh District), Nguyen Tri Phuong Market (District 10), Thi Nghe Market (Binh Thanh District)

In Hanoi

Bánh Ú Tro Cô Hải
Address: 79 Pho Hue, Ngo Thi Nham, Hai Ba Trung.
Bánh Tro at Dong Xuan Market
Address: Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Bánh Ú Tro Vạn Thịnh
Address: Kim Hoa, Dong Da, Hanoi

In Da Nang

Đạt Phát Food Store
Address: 526 Nguyen Phuoc Nguyen, Thanh Khe, Da Nang
Cồn Market
Address: 290 Hung Vuong, Vinh Trung, Hai Chau, Da Nang
Quảng Đà Specialty
Address: 46 Tran Cao Van, Thanh Khe, Da Nang

Visiting these locations offers a chance to weigh the pros and cons of bánh tro and to understand the subtle differences in preparation techniques and ingredients used across different regions.

Pros and Cons of Eating Bánh Tro

Let’s begin to dissect the pros and cons of bánh tro:

Pros

  • Cultural Significance: Bánh tro holds a special place in Vietnamese culture, especially during certain festivals and celebrations. It’s a way to connect with cultural heritage and traditions.
  • Unique Flavor: Made with ingredients like green bean paste, coconut, and sometimes even meat, bánh tro offers a unique and diverse flavor profile that is both savory and sweet.
  • Versatility: This dish can be made in various ways, allowing for different flavor combinations and catering to different taste preferences.

Cons

  • Preparation Time: Making bánh tro can be time-consuming, as it involves several steps including soaking, grinding, and steaming.
  • Short Shelf Life: Like many rice-based products, bánh tro does not have a long shelf life and is best eaten fresh.
  • Calorie-Dense: Depending on the ingredients and preparation method, bánh tro can be quite calorie-dense, which might not align with certain dietary goals.

Exploring these pros and cons often leads to commonly asked questions about bánh tro, let’s check them now!

Bánh Tro FAQs

Yes, it can be made at home, though it requires specific ingredients and some practice to perfect the technique of wrapping and cooking the cakes.

When stored properly in a cool, dry place, bánh tro can last for several days. However, it’s best eaten fresh for optimal taste and texture.

Traditional bánh tro is naturally gluten-free as it is made from rice. However, whether it is vegan depends on the specific ingredients used, such as the addition of coconut or other fillings.

Similar Dishes of Bánh Tro

Banh It

Bánh ít is a popular Vietnamese cake made from glutinous rice flour and mung bean using a steaming method.

Banh Gai

Bánh gai is a Vietnamese dessert made from glutinous rice and ramie leaf for a black color.

Banh U

Bánh ú is a Vietnamese glutinous rice dumpling, savored in sweet or savory varieties and significant in Tết Đoan Ngọ.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert

Education

  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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