Among popular Central Vietnamese foods, banh can is a traditional dish loved by many locals. Characterized by its mini size and the diversity in filling options, banh can is a dish that you definitely must try when traveling to Vietnam.
1. What is banh can?
According to local lore, this Vietnamese mini pancake traces its origins back to the Cham community in the quaint Panduranga village of Ninh Thuan. Over time, Vietnamese people have enhanced this dish by serving it with various dipping sauces, adding ingredients like eggs, shrimp, and squid.
With a round shape molded in a special cast, banh can is made from rice flour, scallion oil, eggs, and the above-mentioned fillings. It is typically eaten with a dipping sauce made from diluted fish sauce with finely chopped chili and garlic, along with seasoned fish sauce and peanut sauce. Some may also brush scallion oil on top of each piece and enjoy the dish with fresh mango, cucumber, and onions like how the Cham people would do.
A visit to Ninh Thuan in particular and Central Vietnam in general would be incomplete without indulging in this popular dish. Widely available along the bustling streets of Phan Rang - Thap Cham City, these delectable snacks perfectly encapsulate the very essence of the region's culinary soul.
2. Differences between Vietnamese banh can and banh khot
Among popular Vietnamese rice cakes, banh khot also stands out as a delicious traditional dish in Vietnam. It is a popular type of dish made from rice flour, filled with shrimp, fried, then served with fresh vegetables, fresh chili, and dipping sauce. Does it sound a lot like banh can? Interestingly, many people mistake banh khot for banh can due to their similarity in appearance and flavor.
The most significant difference between these two seemingly similar dishes lies in the preparation. While banh can is baked in a clay mold, banh khot is fried to make the batter crispy. For banh khot, turmeric powder is often added to give it a beautiful yellow color. Additionally, a layer of oil is applied when pouring the batter, which can sometimes make the dish appear greasier. Meanwhile, the batter used in the banh can recipe does not contain any oil or fat, distinguishing it from banh khot.
3. How to enjoy Vietnamese banh can?
3.1. Banh can in the South Central Coast of Vietnam
Banh can is enjoyed differently depending on the region in which it is made. In the South Central Coast of Vietnam, it is traditionally enjoyed with a mixture of evenly beaten quail eggs, minced pork, shrimp, and squid.
The locals in Phan Rang often enjoy this dish with a bowl of pale fish stew made from tuna, mackerel, onions, and pickles for a sweet yet robust flavor. They use various dipping sauces, such as sweet and sour fish sauce or ground peanut sauce. In Phan Thiet, the dipping sauce is a fish sauce made from local anchovies, combined with chili and garlic for a sweet and savory flavor. It can be paired with braised fish, pork fat, pork rinds, or meatball skewers. In Nha Trang, the most common sauce for this Vietnamese small pancake is a diluted fish sauce with lime, chili, and sugar. Some people add julienned mango to the fish stew, then dip the cakes into the mixture to enhance the overall experience.
3.2. Banh can in Da Lat Vietnam
Banh can in Da Lat is enjoyed differently from the traditional version. It has a simpler choice of fillings, which only include quail eggs. The quail egg is cracked directly onto the cake. Some may use chicken or duck eggs. The dipping sauce for banh can Da Lat typically features fish sauce mixed with a bit of scallion oil, chili, satay, or a fish sauce blend with meatball broth. When eating, the vendor scoops the meatballs and pork rinds into a bowl, adds plenty of finely chopped scallions, and pours the hot broth. Some places also offer wrapped slices of Vietnamese pork sausage or extra boiled quail eggs, depending on the customer's preferences.
In recent years, Tang Bat Ho Street in Da Lat has become a famous culinary street for tourists. If you visit Da Lat, you can explore this street to enjoy the renowned banh can while taking in the charming atmosphere of the city.
In conclusion, banh can in various regions of Vietnam all showcase the diverse culinary landscapes of the country. Whether you fancy the original banh can with seafood by the coast or the simpler version of Da Lat, each brings its own special touch to this favorite dish. Make sure to try the different flavors and local twists of this dish when you are around Central Vietnam - it's a great way to dive into the local food scene during your Vietnam travel.
In addition to banh can, Vietnam is known for many other delicious cakes, including Vietnamese banana cake, Vietnamese honeycomb cake, Vietnamese cassava cake, Vietnamese mung bean cake, Vietnamese shrimp cake, Chung cake, etc. To conveniently explore Vietnam's culinary wonders, you can visit famous destinations like Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long, each offering a feast for the taste buds and a glimpse into the country's unique cultural tapestry.
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