Happy Vietnamese Lunar New Year

by Ramona on March 17, 2010

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Actually the Vietnamese Lunar New Year was on February 14th, but I needed to prepare a recipe to go along with this article. The Lunar New Year is also known as Tet. Tet Nguyen Dan, translated as the “festival (or feast) of the first day.” The celebration is the same as the Chinese, but the food is different.

Banh Tet, is a must-have food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. Banh Tet is banana leaves that are wrapped around  sticky rice. In the center there’s buttery mung beans and small pieces of pork and pork fat. The filling is simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of fish sauce. It’s very rich in taste with a sweet taste of banana. We purchased some from the Asian Market and brought them home.

Watch the video of my first experience tasting Banh Tet. It’s really not too bad…

The five-fruit tray on Tet days. Their names in Vietnamese mean ” Wish a comfortable life with enough money to spend. ”  Sound like a universal good wish to me.

The tray of offerings for ancestors on Tet days with fruit, boiled chicken, sticky rice, wine, square sticky cake, cooked rice, flowers.

The ancient scholar (a person who writes Vietnamese hieroglyph). Vietnamese people usually have ancient scholars write their wishes in Vietnamese hieroglyph on a frame and then hang it on Tet days.

The myth behind the Dragon Lion Dance is said to be the Mythological creatures come down from the heavens and bring good luck to all the people.  People feed money into the Dragon’s mouth and they bat their big eyes and lashes and shake their heads up and down in appreciation.

We went to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in Austin, Texas.  I interviewed Aaron Riser with the Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team as he explained what the team does. ” The Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team (TDDT) is a performance-driven lion dance group based in Austin, Texas. Our goal is to share and in many cases introduce the art of lion dancing to the community. We are one of the few teams in Central Texas that perform year-round, for a wide variety of events. In the past we’ve performed for elementary schools, cultural events, festivals, restaurants, and weddings. Our prime performance season is during the Lunar New Year (early February or March) where we perform the guantlet of back-to-back performances for businesses and organizations all over Austin.”  If you are interested in having them perform you can visit Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team

Watch the video of my interview with Aaron and of the festivities of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.

There is just a small section of the thousands of fireworks that started the celebration!  So adjust your volume.

I wanted to make a Tet recipe and found one that turned out to be delicious.  It’s a Vietnamese version of Chicken Noodle Soup, but with rice noodles, bamboo shoots, Shiitake and Wood Ear Mushrooms.  I couldn’t believe how long it took to prepare the bamboo shoots, over 8 hours! But it was well worth every minute.  I usually don’t care for the taste of canned bamboo shoots, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the dried ones either because while I was preparing them, the smell was soooooo strong!  But after the 8 hour process, they are really good, nothing like the canned ones.

The Shiitake mushrooms, start off dried too.  They don’t smell too good either.  But I wanted to make authentic, so I soaked them.  The Wood Ear mushrooms were dried in little strips, so they also needed to be soaked.

David made a joke of me chop chop chopping the chicken leg.  I have never whacked off the chicken leg elbow.  But it was supposed to help with the final presentation, and it really did!

I’m used to cooking all different kinds of broth nowdays, so I was patient with this broth.  Cooking the chicken, shallots, and bamboo shoots, the aroma throughout the house was wonderful.  Then I added the mushrooms, and scallions while I cooked the rice noodles.

The presentation of the soup is really pretty, but the taste is what we were an-ti-ci-pating!

It was well worth the wait and all the time for the bamboo shoots. It was delicious!

There it is…..

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots

From My Vietnamese Kitchen,
Ramona Werst

Happy (belated) Vietnamese New Year!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

RamonaNo Gravatar January 21, 2011 at 11:51 am

You can contact the Dance Team direct, here is their website! http://tddt.org/

MimiNo Gravatar November 25, 2011 at 2:45 am

do you have banh chung and banh choui warpp with bannana leaf? I check all the web=site. seen no one have it.?

RamonaNo Gravatar December 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

I don’t have a recipe, but I did find in the frozen section of an Asian Market.

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