Autumn, known as the most beautiful season of Hanoi, does not only bring us a romantic atmosphere along with cool and refreshing wind blending with the scent of blackboard tree’s flower but also brings a very unique specialty that has been very familiar with any Hanoians, which is “Com” (or green sticky rice). How can “Com” be such a outstanding symbol of Hanoi’s? Let me show you some detail about this special “com”.
“Com” (also known as Green sticky rice) is a food made from glutinous rice cooked by roasting and sieving to remove the husks, often found in many regions of Vietnam, but this is a very popular dish in Northern Delta cuisine, especially in Hanoi.
In the central and southern regions, people often use older sticky rice flakes to fry till it burst and then sweeten the rice with sugar. Whereas, the peoples of northern Vietnam, specifically Hanoi, the ingredients to make “com” are usually young glutinous rice, rice grains press out with milk.
The history of “Com" - Green Sticky Rice
According to the ancestors, “com” originated from Lang Vong hunderds of years ago. One day when the milk of rice began to freeze, the rice plants were bent over when it started to rain heavily. Dikes broke, water from the river swept in, engulfing the field in deep water. Those who could not let their efforts come up empty handed, they immediately went to the fallen rice fields, grabbed young rice flowers, and dried them to eat and fight against hunger. Fortunately, the finished product is a reluctant part, which not only saved the whole village but also had a very attractive, sweet, and fragrant taste. Therefore, every year when the rice begins to form the shape, the people of Vong village harvest the young rice back to make “com”
Vong village’s “com” then became the specialties of King Ly dynasty (1009-1225), became the famous elegant dish of Trang An people. Through years of development, people not only know how to make delicious “com” but also know how to make the dish more flexible, more green, more fragrant. The title of Hanoi’s “com” increasingly has spread everywhere, becoming a name associated with so many Hanoi people.
In recent years, although there are still a few people in Vong village and in Hanoi generally trying to reserve this traditional dish, “com” is not as popular as about 50 years ago, when industrial and imported bakery goods appeared. The price of “com” is just around VND 20,000 - VND 25,000 per tael but it takes lot of time and effort to create such delicious dish.
How to make “com” - Green Sticky Rice
In Hanoi, “com” are made from young glutinous rice. Both summer crop (fifth-month rice) and winter crop (tenth-month rice) can be used to make “com”, but people often choose winter crop around the beginning of fall in July to the end of September of the lunar calendar.
To make delicious “com”, the cook must go through many stages. When the rice on the fields starts to turn golden yellow and there are only a few days to reap is the time when people choose to pluck long cotton flowers and rice to bring home and start to process, there are usually some following steps:
Choosing the best ingredients: Rice chosen to make the best “Com” is said to be yellow-glutinous rice, a young type of rice. They can collect neither really young rice because it will make the rice crumpled nor old rice because the rice will be tough and hard.
Sifting and winnowing the rice The newly harvested rice needs to be plucked and then sieve the straw, feed through water to remove the grains.
Roasting the rice: after cleaning, it’s time to roast it. Stoves for roasting rice often have to cover coal slag but do not burn coal but use wood, and the frying pan is usually cast iron. Roast the rice for about 30 minutes.
Crushing the roasted rice: After waiting for the roasted rice to cool down, we put each batch, often about a few kilos into a mortar. The rice is usually crushed for about ten minutes. However, depending on the premature level of the, the cook will have to estimate the suitable level, on average, it takes about 7 times the crushing to complete.
Particularly, in Vong village, the rice is often crushed 5 times, and then it is divided into 3 categories: pouring rice “com rot”, young and old rice before they grind the last 2 times.
Wrapping: Finally, final product will be wrapped in two layers of leaves, tied with green rice straw before being delivered to customers. The inner layer is green aroid leaves, which keeps “com” from drying and the color of “com” from fading and outer layer is lotus leaves with faint fragrance.
The interesting ways to enjoy “com”
According to a famous Vietnamese writer, Thach Lam: "Com is not a gift for a person who is in a hurry; “com” must be eaten little by little in a slow and relaxing way. It’s when we can see “flavor of autumn” and the aroma of the new rice in the greenness and sweetness of “com”, the freshness of the young leaves.
Many people love eating only “com” to feel the best flavor of it while many people choose to enjoy “com” with bananas or persimmons.
Another way is to enjoy “com” with lotus tea. People say that the sweetness of “com” and the gently sweet taste of tea blend with the lotus fragrance will create the perfect combination.
Dishes made from Green Sticky Rice
There are a variety of ways to stir fry ‘com’ depending on each other’s taste, they can mix ‘com’ with sugar water, with coconut milk, with vanilla. However, ‘com’ fried with coconut milk is said to have the best
If you want try this interesting dish, stir-fried in Ninh Huong 22 Hang Dieu is recommended destination. The average price is about VND 20,000/ tael
Porridge of ‘com’
This dish is pretty to make, including only ‘com’, tapioca, sugar and a little grapefruit attar. Boil sugar water, mix a little tapioca flour and pour into the pot until there is a certain consistency, then you sprinkle ‘com’ and some grapefruit atter and scoop it into a bowl. ‘Com’ used for this dish is usually ‘com’ at the end of the season, when the ‘com’ grains are thick and pretty harrd.
“Banh com” is made from ‘com’ on the layer, and stuffed with grated coconut, green bean paste and zucchini jam or lotus jam. This dish is often used for engagement ceremony or in the wedding in Vietnam.
‘Com’ candies and ice-cream
Ice-cream and confectionary items that use “com” as part of the ingredients, are usually manufactured on an industrial scale with quite sweet flavor, and sold in groceries stories.
This is also a delicious dish from “com” but is made as a salty dish. Grilled pork rolls (preferably lean shoulder meat with a bit of fat) and “com” of mid-season. Lean ground meat is grated and mixed with “com” and then added spices and fried deeply.
Com Cha is sold in pieces or by weight, priced at 150 - 240 thousand VND / kg.
The meaning of “Com” to Hanoians
Whenever Autumn comes, Hanoi’s streets is filled with the fragrance of “com” and the street cries of vendors selling “com”. “Com” has long been a typical gift of Hanoi and is loved by many people in the capital.
It is said that the elegance and gentleness in the personality of Hanoi seems to be imbued with “com. The fragrance of nuggets of young rice, the smell of sticky rice, has become a very unique taste of Hanoi people.
Therefore, “Com” reminds us not only of the Autumn in Hanoi but also of the gentle and elegant Hanoians.
Where to buy?
Here are some destinations in Hanoi known for making the very good “com” that you should take into consideration when you want to purchase “com”:
“Com vong Huy Linh” store
Address: Tran Thai Tong Street, Dich Vong Hau, Cau Giay district, Hanoi
Reference price: 280.000 VND/kg
“Com” in Vong village
Address: Vong Village, Dich Vong Hau, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
Reference price: 260.000 – 300.000 VND / kg
“Com” in Me Tri village
Address: Com Me Tri Village, Tu Liem district, Hanoi
Reference price: 180,000 - 250,000 VND / kg
According to many Hanoians, going through Autumn without eating “com” once seems to be a big mistake and your Autumn hasn’ been completed in the right way. Therefore, Why don’t we try “com” at least once and experience your trip here as a real local person, I believe it can make your journey more interesting!
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