Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam

The five-color sticky rice (“Xôi ngũ sắc” in Vietnamese) has long been considered the regional specialty of the northwestern highlands in Vietnam.
March 03, 2022 | 08:07

The Northwestern region in Vietnam is famous for many specialties. One of them is sticky rice with five colors. Five-color sticky rice has 5 basic colors including white, purple, blue, yellow and red. People in the Northwest often make this dish on special occasions of the year such as Tet holidays, weddings, anniversaries.

Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam
Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam. Photo: dulichtaybac.vn.

Those who have had the opportunity to enjoy the five color sticky rice will be impressed by the special aroma of the leaves that give the sticky rice its color and the flavor.

The special meaning of five-color sticky rice

The five-color sticky rice is not only delicious but also very beautiful and carries a lot of profound meanings. According to the concept of the people of the Northwest, the meaning of five-color sticky rice expresses "five elements" of the Earth and the desire for love. The five colors of the dish represent the five elements of life in the Vietnamese’s’ belief: yellow represents the earth, green is plant, red is fire, white is metal, and black is water. People believe that the existence of these five elements create the well-being of the heaven, the earth the human.

Additionally, sticky rice represents the love of mother and father. It is also a symbol of luck and good things.

Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam
Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam. Photo: luhanhvietnam.com.vn

Red sticky rice symbolizes the desire to live and dreams of a bright future. Purple sticky rice represents the color of the rich land. For ethnic people in the North, land is a precious thing that needs to be preserved and developed. Yellow sticky rice symbolizes prosperity, expresses the people's wish for a peaceful life.

Green sticky rice represents the color of the Northwestern mountains and forests, the green of trees, forests and fields. White sticky rice symbolizes pure and faithful love. In addition, it also shows respect for parents. The way to decorate five-color sticky rice in the shape of petals is to show love and respect for parents, grandparents and ancestors.

How to make five-color sticky rice

Ingredients used to make five-color sticky rice include fragrant glutinous rice and forest leaves. The use of these leaves is to color the sticky rice.

The way to make five-color sticky rice is quite simple. Although it is not difficult, it requires a lot of meticulous work. Therefore, five color sticky rice is also likened to the sophistication of the women of the Northwest.

If you want to serve delicious sticky rice, you must choose good rice, soak it in clean water for 6 to 8 hours. Then, you divide rice into 5 equal parts, each part will be dyed a separate color.

Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam
Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam. Photo: dulichtaybac.vn

While the white is made from the natural color of the rice, the red is from the red sticky rice, the yellow is from the ginger, the purple is from the black sticky rice, and the green can be from the ginger leaf. These naturally colorful leaves will then be used to make the wonderful sticky rice that enchants everyone. The fruits, tubers and leaves must be pounded and squeezed separately to get the colored water mixed into the sticky rice and must be cooked in different pots to avoid color mixing. Once the sticky rice gets colored, they are taken out of the liquid to begin cooking.

This step depends on each person's skill level and experience in cooking sticky rice, which will produce a satisfactory one. White color sticky rice must be placed on top so that it does not absorb the color of other sticky rice colors. Spring water used to make sticky rice must be pure to make the sticky rice fragrant. The Northwest mountainous region has many ravines with clean and fresh groundwater, which is a source of water for cooking delicious dishes.

Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam
Five color sticky rice - A Specialty Of Northwestern Highlands In Vietnam. Photo: Pham Khoa/VNA)

During steaming the sticky rice, it is noted to pay attention to the fire, which decides the softness and a characteristic flavor.

The presentation of five-color sticky rice also has many styles. Some places will display sticky rice in the shape of a 5-petal flower, each petal representing a color. Some places use wooden molds to make sticky rice into many layers, each layer is a color of sticky rice. Any decoration makes the five-color sticky rice vibrant and eye-catching.

Although it is a popular dish, five-color sticky rice has shown many precious values in the concept and behavior of people in the Northwest.

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