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Vietnamese Rice (Com Viet)


 

     Every autumn, around September and Octorber, when the cool north-westerly wind brings a cold dew, the sticky rice ears bend themselves into arches waiting for ripe grains because these rice grains are at their fullest and the rice-milk is already concentrated in the grains, predicing that the com season has arrived.

                                

     Better than any other person, the peasant knows when the rice ears are ripe enough to be reaped to begin making com. The seeds are pulled off the reaped rice ears (the seeds are called “stomach-paddy”); then, the seeds are roasted until they are done to a turn and left to cool down. Next, they are slightly pounded with a pestle in a quick and regular rhythm, until the com grain becomes greenish. After some pounding, some of the rice husks are thrown away and the pounding begins again. In total, there are seven periods of pounding, at the end of which, the com is rolled up in leaves so that it will not become dry and so that the leaf scent will impregnate the com.

                                   

    Com is a very luxurious speciality; at the same time, it is very popular. One can enjoy com with banana tieu, swamp hen eggs, or with ripe amber coloured Japanese persimmon. When eating com, you must eat slowly and chew very deliberately in order to appreciate all the scents, tastes, and plasticity of the young rice.

     Com is an ingredient also used in many specialities of Viet Nam, including com xao (browned com), banh com (com cakes), che com (sweetened com soups), etc.

     Com may be obtained anywhere in Viet Nam, but the tastiest com is processed in Vong Village, 5 km from centre of Ha Noi, where com making has been a professional skill for many generations.

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