Speaking to Hanoi, many tourists usually mention to numerous stunning landscapes like Hoan Kiem Lake, One Pillar Pagoda, The Temple of Literary, The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and so on. However, it will be a big shortcoming without mentioning to Hanoi cuisine, a special attractiveness to every tourists coming this capital city. Hanoi cuisine is very diverse with a lot of delicious and impressive dishes which bring a rustic flavor and are imbued with national identity. Among famous specialties in Hanoi, Cốm (also known as young green sticky rice) is favored by many foreign tourists and is an indispensable flavor of Hanoian when autumn starts knocking at the door of every house.
Cốm, a special gift of Hanoi autumn
Every autumn, when the cool north-westerly winds bring a cold dew, the sticky rice ears start bending themselves into arches waiting for ripe grains. In this time, these rice grains are at their fullest and the rice-milk is already concentrated in the grains, and it is ideal time for the local farmers to make Cốm – a specialty made from young green sticky rice.
Cốm is made from young glutinous rice, carefully selected since they are in their blossom
Traveling to Hanoi in autumn, visitors can see Cốm sold on many streets, but one of the most origins of Cốm can be traced to Vong Village, located about 7 km from Hanoi downtown to the west. The art of making Cốm has been passed from generations to generations of local artisans to create such an elegant food rich in the characteristics of the ancient capital city. For Hanoians, Cốm from Vong Village has had a special place in their heart. It is said that Vong Village has been making Cốm for at least 700 years. The process of growing, harvesting and processing rice is a long-guarded secret of framing family of the village. The main ingredient of Cốm is young glutinous rice, carefully selected since they are in their blossom. The young sticky rice is greenish, glutinous, and fragrant, wrapped in lotus leaves to make it more flavoring and attractive. Lotus leaves and young green sticky rice of Vong Village have always been an ideal couple, which is a good reminder of Hanoi life for those who are living away from the city.
Cốm is wrapped in lotus leaves to make it more flavoring and attractive
Cốm is only snack for pleasure, so when eating Cốm, you must enjoy slowly and chew very deliberately to feel all the scents, tastes and plasticity of the young rice, which is sweet, nutty and buttery. Cốm is usually eaten with some persimmons or bananas, or many people can drink some tea from Thai Nguyen while eating Cốm. The fresh, green young sticky rice goes very well with the red persimmons, forming a nice couple. Additionally, Cốm is used to make many other Hanoi specialties such as stir-fried green rice (Cốm xào), puffy green rice that resembles rice krispie (Cốm rang), green rice cake (Bánh Cốm), ice-cream with Cốm flavor (Kem Cốm), sweetened green rice paste (Chè Cốm) and so on.
Cốm, a rustic dish of Hanoi autumn
For any tourist who have chance to visit Hanoi in autumn, do not forget to try Cốm and buy it as souvenirs for your family and friends. Surely, it will remind you of a peaceful and pleasant autumn of Hanoi as well as simplicity and rusticity of local people living in the capital city when you come back your country.