Sticky Rice Cakes Filled with Pork and Lotus
(Hue Com Sen)
In the old imperial city of Hue, this
traditional dish, Hue com sen, is presented like a beautiful woman,
dressed in lotus leaf and garnished with a fresh lotus flower. For
celebrations over New Year, Tet, there is similar dish called banh chung,
which contains mung beans instead of lotus seeds. In southern Vietnam,
banana leaves are used to make these parcels, and they make the perfect
substitute if you can't find lotus leaves. Banana leaves are available in
most Asian markets, and lotus seeds can be found in Chinese stores. Serve
the rice cakes with a salad and dipping sauce.
Makes 2 cakes
Lean pork, cut into bite-size chunks
Ground black pepper
Lotus seeds, soaked for 6 hours and drained
Lotus or banana leaves, trimmed and cut into 25 cm squares
Cooked sticky rice
Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Stir in the
garlic, until it begins to color, then add the pork, nuoc mam, sugar and
pepper. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes, or until
the pork is tender. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to
the boil. Reduce the heat and add the prepared lotus seeds. Allow them
to cook for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender, then drain, pat
dry and leave to cool.
Using your fingers, shred the cooked pork
and place beside the lotus seeds. Lay a lotus leaf or banana leaf on a
flat surface and place a quarter of the cooked sticky rice in the middle
of the leaf. Flatten the centre of the rice mound slightly and then
scatter with half the shredded pork and half the lotus seeds.
Drizzle some of the cooking juices from
the pork over the top. Place another quarter of the rice on top,
moulding and patting it with your fingers to make sure the pork and
lotus seeds are enclosed like a little cake. Fold the leaf edge nearest
to you over the rice, tuck in the sides, and fold the whole packet over
to form a tight, square bundle. Tie it with string to secure it and set
aside. Repeat with the second leaf and the remaining ingredients.
Fill a wok one-third full of water. Place
a double-tiered bamboo steamer, with its lid on, on top. Bring the water
to the boil, lift the bamboo lid and place a rice cake on the rack in
each tier. Cover and steam for about 45 minutes.
Carefully open up the parcels and serve
with a salad and dipping sauce.