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Sticky rice is a common ingredient in Vietnam’s cuisine. It is often combined with other ingredients to create a diverse array of xôi, such as xôi ngô (sticky rice with corn), xôi gấc (sticky rice with Gac fruit), xôi ngũ sắc (five-colored sticky rice). Enjoying a meal with ethnic minorities living in northeastern Vietnam, tourists will be drawn to their xôi trám, or sticky rice with black canarium. This variation of sticky rice bursts with nutty and umami flavors but doesn’t cloy the appetite.
Xôi trám, with its unique taste, is a common dish in the meals of some ethnic minority groups living in Cao Bang province. In recent years, it has also been a favorite of Hanoians.
There are two common types of canariums in Cao Bang: Black canarium and white canarium. When ripe, white canarium fruits will change their color from bright green to light yellow and fall from the tree on their own. Black canarium, on the other hand, will change from light green to purple, then dark purple. The fruits won’t fall if people don’t hit the branches with a rod.
|Photo: Cao Bang sticky rice with black canarium is listed in the Top 100 most popular Vietnamese dishes (2020 – 2021) / Healthplus.vn|
Black canarium’s flavor is nuttier and more flavorful than white canarium, therefore is used more often. The fruit has its sub-types. Often, the type with softer and nuttier flesh (trám nếp) is chosen to cook with sticky rice. Black canarium used for xôi trám has to be ripe but fresh and dark purple. As the fruit is harvested, the tree sap still sticks on its stem; the fruit’s skin looks shiny, smooth, and fairly intact.
After harvesting, black canarium is soaked in warm water (around 30oC) until soft. Sticky rice is washed clean and soaked in water from 8 to 10 hours. Black canarium is then mixed with sitcky rice, put in a steamer, and cooked for 30 minutes until ready to serve.
|Photo: Sticky rice with black canarium has a nutty flavor / Dan tri.|
Sticky rice with black canarium is glutinous but doesn’t stick on the hand. When serving, it has a mesmerizing deep purple color. The dish’s flavor is brought out the most when served with sesame salt or Cao Bang sausage. The aroma from the sticky rice mixes with the nutritious, nutty taste from black canarium can arouse the taste buds without cloying the appetite.
Sticky rice with black canarium is a common dish amongst the Tay and Nung ethnic minority groups in Cao Bang province. Popular now also in other localities, this unique dish has become an integral food in special occasions during the canarium season.
Sticky rice with black canarium has been listed amongst the top 100 most popular Vietnamese dishes (2020 – 2021) by the Vietnam Record Association. Cao Bang province has two other dishes recognized in this list, namely Coóng Phù cake and Trùng Khánh chestnut.
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