Bánh dau xanh or mung bean pastry is considered a representative of Vietnam‘s flavor. With its rustic and simple ingredients, the dessert shows the ingenuity and delicacy of industrious Vietnamese workers.
Hai Duong city, located within the Hanoi-Hai Phong-Quang Ninh tourist triangle, is home to the bánh dau xanh. When traveling to the region, you shouldn’t miss the chance of trying this sweet and tasty mung bean pastry. The dessert is one of the most chosen gifts for friends and family after a trip to the region.
The Vietnamese pastry is made of mung beans, pomelo flower oil, sugar, and fat in the appropriate amount. After cooking, the dessert becomes a dry, smooth powder that’s shaped into a rectangle. Bánh dau xanh has a smooth finish and is yellow. Whenever you take a bite of this mung bean pastry, its flavor and aroma linger in your mouth.
In the past, mung bean pastry was made entirely by hand, but now, most preparatory steps like preliminary treatment, grinding, roasting, mixing of fats have been mechanized.
Bánh Dau Xanh Production
Before 1945, several facilities were producing and selling bánh dau xanh in the Hai Duong town, such as Mai Phuong and Hoa Mai, but Cu Huong and Bao Hien were the most renowned. The local elderly stated that Bao Hien, which was owned by Nguyen Thi Nhung, was the first to make mung bean pastry in the city. Every time it purchased ingredients, the entire town becomes busier than usual because of the carriages loaded with sugar traveling from central Tuy Hoa city to Hai Duong in the north, hundreds of kilograms of fat transported to the maker’s warehouse from slaughterhouses, and big boats carrying mung beans from Luc Nam.
Around that time, Bao Hien laborers worked around the clock, and every step from material check and transaction to management and accounting was singlehandedly managed by a woman who also had small children to look after. Still, everything went smoothly. The dynamic and skillful woman turned the bánh dau xanh into a famous specialty of Hai Duong. And because of her, Bao Hieu became the largest brand of mung bean pastry in the Eastern Region in the 60s and 70s.
Except for Bao Hien, Cu Huong was also another famous producer of the dessert. Despite its modest output, the company’s products were well known for their quality.
Doan Van Dat established the Nguyen Huong brand in 1986, which has a logo of a Phoenix. The name Nguyen Huong (original fragrance), along with the Phoenix logo was, was intended to show the company’s wish to preserve the authentic taste of the Hai Duong mung bean pastry so that this unique dessert would be known in every region of Vietnam. Nguyen Huong was awarded a silver medal at the 1987 National Handicraft Fair for its quality and a gold medal in 1998, establishing a driving force for developing bánh dau xanh in terms of quality and quantity.
Aside from quality, the producers from Hai Duong city also made the delicacy distinctive by creating a special appearance for it. Although there are hundreds of bánh dau xanh brands, most of them are wrapped in red and yellow packages, the “traditional colors” dating back to the moment Bao Hien founded the craft.
Nowadays, producers have not only preserved the craft but also made innovations. They wrap the pastries in aluminum foil instead of plastic films and place them in anti-moisture packages to keep the quality unchanged for around two to six months. There are also sugar-free versions available for those on a diet.
Homemakers can also make bánh dau xanh on their own by following instructions given by the producers. Depending on their preference, consumers can also select products that suit their taste for sweetness. Besides, some mung bean pastry producers also add lotus seeds, peanuts, red beans, and even egg yolks to their pastries, thus diversifying them. The Vietnamese dessert has won the domestic buyers’ trust and was even exported to markets worldwide.
After almost a century of maintaining a traditional business, the citizens of Hai Duong are proud to have a production operation with over 50 brands.
How to Cook Bánh Dau Xanh
- 200g mung beans (dried, peeled, and split)
- 150-200g sugar
- 1 tbsp koh fun
- 2-3 tbs oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla and mali or pomelo flower water
- Rinse and soak the beans for at least several hours until they become nice and plump.
- Drain the mung beans and steam until they’re tender.
- Mash the beans and combine them with sugar.
- Simmer the mixture over medium heat while constantly stirring for approximately 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the koh fun with oil.
- After 20 minutes or so, add the flour mixture and blend well.
- Continue cooking for another ten minutes.
- Add the vanilla and pomelo flower water.
- Set aside until the beans are cool enough to touch and press them into a mold.
Bánh dau xanh is best eaten alongside green tea. The slightly bitter taste of the tea will balance the sweetness of the Vietnamese dessert. The two opposing flavors intertwine and create an excellent taste.