The crispy round Vietnamese sesame rice cracker or Girdle sesame rice cake is specialty food of Central Vietnam. In Vietnamese, they call this food Bánh tráng mè, Banh trang me (in Central Vietnam) or Bánh đa vừng, Banh da vung in North Vietnam. Made from rice and sesame, Banh trang me is sold and stored in dried version. To serve and eat, grill or fry the dried Banh trang me on charcoal for a few minutes. The smelling and crispy Banh trang me has attracted most of the people in Vietnam as well as foreigners.
There are some types of Vietnamese sesame rice crackers which are made from different types of sesame seeds (white, black). They use normal rice and a special rice which is called Khang Dang rice to make the cracker. The ratio of normal rice to Khang Dang rice is 13:2. After soaking in water for 30 minutes, the rice is ground into a smooth mixture of rice flour and water. The mixture should not be too thick but not too runny so that it will not be hard to make Banh trang me. Season the mixture with ground black pepper, salt, garlic, green onion. Add toasted sesame to the mixture and stir well. They make Banh trang me by steaming a thin layer of batter on a thin cloth which covers a wide pot with water. The pot is kept being heated and the water is kept boiling. Use a ladle to pour the batter onto the cloth, skillfully create a thin round sesame rice sheet on the cloth. Cover the lid, steamed sesame rice sheets will be ready after 3 minutes. Dry the steamed sesame rice sheets under the sun until dry. Normally, the sheets turn dry after drying for one day. Now the dried Vietnamese sesame rice cracker is ready, it is stored in air-tight plastic bag. As mentioned above, it should be grilled or fried until crispy and puffed up to serve. To grill, they use a special tool to change the sides of the cracker continuously to make sure it is well-cooked on both sides. The dried Banh trang me is thinner than the grilled/fried one. After cooking, the dried one turns crispy, puffed up and very smelling.
Vietnamese sesame rice cracker plays an important role in the cuisine of the country. It can be served as a snack on normal days. It is served with a wide range of Vietnamese dishes such as Steamed mackerel scads, Stir-fried organs with turmeric, Cao lau, Quang noodle soup, Jellyfish salad, other salad dishes, noodle soups, etc. It is the main ingredient to make Break cake (Bánh đập) – a specialty of Hoian, Grilled sesame rice cracker with fermented shrimp paste (Bánh tráng nướng mắm ruốc) – a specialty of Phan Thiet, Clams with sesame rice cracker (Hến xúc bánh tráng) – a specialty of Hue, etc. The cake is a favorite food at traditional festivals such as Tet festival and on important occasions.
This is how they steam a wet Vietnamese sesame rice cracker