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I remember one of the first times I went to Vietnam, I was hit with a wave of culture shock when I visited my dad’s side of the family in Hue (Central Vietnam). To lớn get to my grandparent’s house & my dad’s old village, we had to lớn travel for what felt like two hours (could have been less time, I actually don’t remember) on a little fishing boat across the river. This was back in 1997 before they built the bridge that allowed for motorbikes & cars to travel over. Being 7 years old, sheltered in Canada và growing up with the luxuries of light switches, running water & flushing toilets, I was humbled by where my dad came from và how different life was.
When I last visited my grandparents back in 2009, so much had changed. Running water, electricity, a TV, & most importantly for me, a toilet that flushed. But some things stayed the same: the bamboo leaf hats that were essential for shade, the honks of motorbikes down the road, the neglected house cats that were only around to keep rodents in check, and of course, the local food vendors with tiny plastic chairs và the most delicious foods from the region.
During my visit in 1997, my aunt took my mom & I to lớn one of the street vendors that made Bánh Bột thanh lọc Lá, similar to these dumplings in this recipe, but each dumpling was bigger & flatter, & wrapped in banana leaf before boiled. My mom untied the banana leaf wrapper và revealed a clear, oily dumpling, with crumbles of ground pork, tiny dried shrimp, và flecks of onion & wood ear fungus peeking through.
My mom splashed some amber nước để chấm sauce over the glistening dumplings, và showed me how khổng lồ eat by using the spoon to gently cut through the dumpling but leave the banana leaf intact on the plate. I followed my mom’s lead và ate my first bite of this wonderfully chewy, savoury and salty dumpling, brightened with the lime in the sauce & enhanced with the umami of fish sauce.
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Vietnamese food is delicious no matter which region it’s from, but the food where my dad is from is just on another màn chơi of delicious.
These dumplings are the simpler version of that delicate Bánh Bột lọc Lá. Bánh Bột thanh lọc Tran Chay translates to Vegetarian Naked Clear Flour Dumpling. Traditionally, I ate these with ground pork và tiny dried shrimp, but obviously I have swapped vegan substitutes instead. I used Lightlife ground meat here, but you can just as easily use mushrooms, or if you want lớn keep it protein-y, use cooked and seasoned mung beans (like this banh it tran filling) Yves veggie grounds, Gardein ground, Beyond Beef crumbles, or unseasoned TVP. Heck, you could even use lentils instead.
Personally, I love the nostalgic texture of Lightlife ground in this, I find it khổng lồ be the closest khổng lồ pork, & using wood ear mushrooms, you have that familiar squishy crunch that is so nostalgic of so many Vietnamese dishes.
Sorry for the subpar chất lượng photos here, I was kind of rushed because my mom was just snatching these dumplings to lớn cook before I could take a decent photo of them, but this is what the dumplings look lượt thích before they get cooked. The dough is purely tapioca starch: when you add boiling water to lớn the starch, it creates this elastic, supple dough that is lượt thích an extremely satisfying Play-Doh. Except you can eat this!
Filling the dumplings takes a little practice khổng lồ understand the balance of rolling out a wrapper that is the right thickness & using the right amount of filling so it doesn’t bust through the wrapper.
It’s tedious work, but with enough helping hands, you can make quick work of this bánh bột thanh lọc Tran chay for such a tasty, savoury snack (or meal!)
Check out my video clip of my mom showing me how to lớn make bánh bột lọc tran chay, & the wrapping technique up close before you try your hand at it!