Cooc cake – has long become an indispensable gift for young children on special holidays: Babies’ full-month, full-year anniversaries … In Tay, Cooc means cow’s horn, simply due to the pointed spike – shaped like a cow’s.
Thai Nguyen is not only a land of many scenic spots, historical relics but also a place with many famous specialties. Among the dishes of the Tay and Nung people in Thai Nguyen, the cooc cake is a simple but charming eat because of its distinctive flavor.
This viand is made of sticky rice wrapped in banana or phrinium leaves (la dong) without pie filler. The foodstuff is made from the best kind of glutinous rice grown in the mountains so the taste is simply the best resulting from the sweetness, fragrance, and softness. You will not let your mouth rest till your tummy swells.
This victual also requires the ingenuity and meticulousness of the chefs. Sticky rice must be washed with water several times until the water is transparent. Continue doing so till the staple become soft. Banana leaves are torn into square pieces, rolled into the funnel-shaped. At this moment locals pour rice in those funnels and ingeniously wrap them up with long node strings split from bamboo.
That wrapping step looks so simple yet it is of paramount importance for the whole cooking process. If the nodes are too loose, cooc cakes will be watery and tasteless. Otherwise, if you wrap too tight, the seeds will not expand leading to lumpy rough cakes. By the experienced hands of mountainous women, thousands of cakes are brought to life in no time.
Cakes are tangled in pairs or small clusters and boiled for more than two hours. Cakes with light green color of banana leaves, sleek and pure aroma of high mountainous fields. The cake has no filler but oddly, the more you taste the more aroma is oozed out of every single bite. For those who have sweet tooth, your best best is dipping these chunks in honey or sugar.
Tay and Nung people make this specialty all year round and sell them four seasons in the market. On special occasions such as full-month, full-year anniversary of babies, a family cannot forget to make this chow. To enjoy this cake, out-of-towners can also go to Dong Quang Trade Center or Thai market. With only $1, you can have a bunch of smoky hot cooc cakes to enjoy in the freaking cold days of high altitude zone.