Xoi – a quick fix for empty stomach
Xoi ngu sac used to be served on special occasions, but is a daily dish in the northern region now (Photo: monan9.com)
If rice is Vietnam’s staple crop, xoi (steamed sticky
rice) is the nation’s choice dish, as much as the famous pho (rice noodle
soup), if not more so.
It is a
breakfast favourite, and the most popular snack or meal at late night or in early
It is sold
by vendors in early morning markets and it can be found in fanciest restaurants
serving traditional Vietnamese food.
any numbers of specialty xoi restaurants, as well as push
carts that stand on street corners or bicycles that go around the streets well
past midnight, long after restaurants and other eateries have closed.
Xoi, as the name suggests, is made with
glutinous rice, steamed or cooked. There are those who love having this regularly
for breakfast and those who have it at any time of the day or night, but almost
every Vietnamese will have it at least once a month.
But xoi is
not one dish. There are many varieties, each with its distinct taste, colour
has its own special xoi dishes. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy xoi with muoi
vung (ground sesame and peanuts) or sugar, while others have a wide
range of meat choices, including xoi thit kho tau (sticky
rice with Chinese braised pork) and xoi with liver pate,
sausage, fried eggs, char siu, chickens or roasted pigeons.
On full moon
days, New Year holidays, weddings, death anniversaries and other
occasions, xoi is a must-have dish on the feast’s platters.
The ways to
make sticky rice depend on the variety, family recipes or individual creativity
that housewives bring into play.
most popular method is to soak the glutinous rice in warm water for many hours
until it expands; wash and mix the rice with a little salt and other
ingredients separately; place them in an autoclave; pour boiling water into the
bottom of the autoclave and place it on a pot so that the ingredients are
steamed without touching the water.
sealed autoclave and the pot are placed on a stove and boiled over low heat
until the sticky rice is well-cooked and limber.
women use electric rice cookers with the steaming function, but the majority
preference is for xoi cooked the traditional way.
Among the numerous types of xoi, Xoi dau xanh (green bean sticky rice) is one of
the most popular because it can be served with many different
ingredients, including meat. Since it is easy to cook, it is a popular choice
among housewives as well.
This dish is
made by chafing the green beans (mung beans), soaking them in water for around
five hours (often left overnight), hulling (or not), mixing them with glutinous
rice, and steaming them in an autoclave.
popular xoi varieties include xoi xeo (turmeric
flavoured sticky rice served with powdered green beans and topped with fried
shallots), xoi lac (sticky rice with
peanuts), xoi ngo (stick rice with corn) and xoi dau den (sticky rice with
reason for its popularity is that while it is very tasty, it is also
healthy, starched but not fatty.
Xoi ngu sac (five-coloured sticky rice) is
usually made by several ethnic minority communities, in the northern region.
colours of the dish symbolise five elements: yellow is the colour of land;
green the colour of wood; red, fire; white, metal; and black, water. These
communities have their own secrets, using different herbs and wild vegetables
to dye the sticky rice and create these colours.
past, xoi ngu sac was only served on important occasions like
festivals, ceremonies and weddings. It has become a very popular daily dish
now, and a marker of the host’s hospitality.
the red-coloured sticky rice, the bright red flesh of the ripe gac (spiny
bittergourd or cochinchin gourd) fruit is used. This fruit has been
traditionally used as both food and medicine in Vietnam.
used to make the yellow sticky rice, la cam (a herb) for purple, the ash of
burned ginger leaves for black, and the pandan leaf for green. The glutinous
rice is soaked in water mixed with the above ingredients.
Xoi ga (chicken
sticky rice) is particularly liked in the central region. Visitors to Da Nang,
Hoi An and Hue also favour this dish because it is delicious and can be packed
The dish is
fatty and nutritious. Chicken is boiled with a pinch of turmeric. The chicken
broth is then used to cook the glutinous rice, giving the rice its yellow
colour and its butter taste.
chicken is shredded by hand into thin slices and mixed with salt, pepper,
sliced onions and Vietnamese mint. The dish is finally topped with scallion
This is a
balanced dish, with protein from the chicken, lipid from the chicken broth,
starch from glutinous rice and vitamins from herbs and the accompanying salad.
Xoi man is a southern treat, favoured again for its taste,
nutritional values and affordable prices.
means salty, literally, but here it means savory, distinguish it from the
several sweet sticky rice recipes.
This is a
hearty all-in-one meal with sticky rice and various kinds of meat including Chinese
sausage, shredded chicken, liver pate, char siu, ruoc or cha
bong (dried shredded pork/chicken), and dried shrimp.
Although styrofoam boxes and plastic is used to pack xoi now, most
of the individual sellers, in the morning in particular, offer the choice of
getting your xoi fix in a banana leaf, which adds an extra
flavour to the dish.-VNA