A cake from a land of cultural confluence
The round cake is said to symbolise fullness and family reunion (Photo: VNA)
The confluence of three ethnicities in the
Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang, that of the Kinh, the Hoa and the Khmer,
makes it a great place to discover the beauty of different cultures and observe
The distinctive festivals, landmarks and other features also
open a door to the Mekong Delta province’s unique culinary specialties
influenced by its cultural diversity.
For hundreds of years, the Pia cake (a cake filled
with durian, shredded lard, salted egg yolk and mung bean paste), originally of
the Hoa people, has been served and given as gifts by Soc Trang residents.
The Pia cake is served on special occasions during the
year, including weddings and the Full Moon Festival. This round cake is seen as
a symbol of fullness and family reunion.
The cake has a thin crust made of flour and a filling of durian,
mung beans and taro with or without salted duck egg. The outer part can be
uncovered layer by layer. As the cake is cut, the aroma of the filling is
It’s said that the Pia cake first appeared in Soc Trang
in the 17th century when Hoa people migrated to the south of Vietnam. Over the
years, Pia cake was adjusted to match the taste buds of other people
and it developed into a provincial specialty.
Traditionally, the Pia cake was made only for the Full
Moon Festival and Tet (Lunar New Year). As with other such food items,
the cake is now made and sold all year round. It has a shelf life of up to
two months, instead of a fortnight.
In order to make an attractive, tasty Pia cake, bakers
have to exercise sophisticated skills at several stages.
To make the crust, they mix the flour with sugar and finely mill
the mixture into very thin layers.
The filling of durian, mung bean, taro and salted duck egg, or
durian, steamed mung bean, taro and sugar is ground into fine paste and added
with a bit of pork fat before being used to cover salted duck egg.
The baker then applies a layer of oil to the cake before putting
it in the oven at an average of about 270 degrees Celsius. After 5-7 minutes,
it is turned over, and baked for another 10 minutes until it turns yellow.
The Soc Trang Pia cake is special because the aroma of
fresh durian is irreplaceable.
Soc Trang now has more than 50 Pia bakeries. Currently,
with improved quality and promotion, many enterprises have started selling
their product not only in other areas of Vietnam, but also in foreign countries
like the US and Cambodia.
Today’s Pia cake varies a lot from the traditional
version. It fillings now include not only mung bean, taro, durian, salted egg,
but also lotus seeds and pineapple. -VNA