Banh Da from Nong Xa Village (Noodle)

Banh Da from Nong Xa Village (Noodle)

Banh Da from Nong Xa Village (Noodle): The people of Hai Phong take great pride in their local specialties, but not everyone among them knows that in a small village not far from the city center, batches of “bánh đa” – crispy, chewy, and flavorful rice crackers – are skillfully crafted every day, every hour, by diligent and dedicated hands.

In Nong Xa Village, Tan Tien Commune, An Duong District, on a midsummer day, the road leading into the village is wide and clean. Along the road and on the roofs of houses are trays of white and red cakes neatly arranged, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere for those visiting here for the first time. For a long time, the seemingly secondary profession has become a lifesaver for the people living here.

Banh Da from Nong Xa Village
Banh Da from Nong Xa Village

Selecting raw materials

Those who make rice crackers require a careful and meticulous work attitude. Selecting rice is the first and crucial step in the rice cracker production process. It’s essential that the rice has good expansion, a natural fragrance, preferably Q5, V, 132 varieties… The rice is carefully selected, then soaked in cold water. The soaking time is critical, typically about 1 hour in summer and 10 hours in winter, ensuring the rice becomes soft and white.

Types of Banh Da

There are two types of cakes: if making white cakes (rice crackers), only rice flour is used, but if you want to make red cakes (crab rice crackers), use condensed sugar cane juice to make bitter candy. Rice is ground into silky flour, then the flour paste is poured onto the fabric band of the spreading machine, passing through the heat of the steam pot.

After the spreading process, the sheets are spread out, dried on charcoal stoves, and mainly utilize sunlight. When the cakes are relatively dry, they are stacked on top of each other, flattened with a stone mortar, and cut into small pieces using a cutting machine, about 0.2 – 1cm depending on customer requirements and each production facility.

The finished cakes come in two types: Dry cakes are sold to distant provinces or used as gifts, while wet cakes are sold directly within the local area of the commune and surrounding areas. Therefore, when you come to Hai Phong to eat crab rice crackers, you will enjoy fresh and delicious products. According to calculations, every 1 kg of rice yields 0.9 kg of rice crackers.

Standards of Banh Da

To ensure that the cakes are delicious, crispy, chewy, and cohesive, several basic factors must be guaranteed: the rice must be of high quality, the flour must be fine and silky (finer than the flour used for glutinous rice cakes), and the temperature must be high. For those who have been in the profession for many years and have a lot of experience, the taste of the rice crackers is the most important. This is what creates the distinctive and famous flavor of Hai Phong rice crackers that few regions can match. However, to achieve the desired taste, the rice grains must be plump, white, and sun-dried adequately.

While making the cakes, even a small mistake in each step can lead to the entire batch being ruined. If there are impurities, it will cause the cakes to swell; if the soaked rice grains are not sufficiently swollen, the cakes will be spoiled; if the temperature during the blanching process is not high enough, it will result in the cakes breaking… The most crucial step is the drying process. At this point, the artisans have no choice but to “watch the sky, watch the land, watch the clouds…,” and having to discard an entire load of cakes due to rain or lack of sunlight is not uncommon.

The Nong Xa rice crackers have become a characteristic feature of the Port City region. For years, the red strands of rice crackers from the rural area of Nong Xa have contributed their flavor to the bowls of crab rice crackers in Hai Phong and many other places across the country. In the city of Hai Phong, with its tree-lined avenues and wide sidewalks, one can find several tables and chairs set up right on the sidewalk, accompanied by a small sign with a few simple words: “Crab Rice Crackers.”

 

 

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