(literally "cow cake") is a sweet, chewy sponge cake
. It is made from rice flour
, water, sugar, and yeast, and has a honeycomb
-like appearance on the inside due to the presence of numerous small air bubbles. Coconut milk
is also usually a part of the batter, imparting a slight flavor and aroma of coconut. The cake is of Southern Chinese
origin, although the Chinese version, called bái táng gāo
), omits the coconut. Bánh bò
are generally eaten as a dessert, although they may also be consumed as an accompaniment to a meal.
In the Vietnamese language
means "cake," and bò
means "cow." The reason "cow" is part of the name is unknown, though an old folk tale tells the story of a poor Vietnamese man who could not feed his family. One night, in a feverish dream, a cow appeared before him and taught him how to create the pastry. The man named the cake after the cow as a tribute, as he became a successful man after creating and selling "cow cakes."
There are two varieties of bánh bò
- Bánh bò nướng (literally "baked cow cake") - This variety of bánh bò is cooked by baking it in a pan in an oven. It is generally off-white or yellowish-white in color on the inside and golden on the outside, although it may be colored green with pandan. They are often large in size, in which case a serving will consist of a slice rather than the whole cake. photo
- Bánh bò hấp (literally "steamed cow cake") is similar in appearance to the baked version, but is steamed rather than baked, and the outside is not golden-colored. They are often small in size, similar in size to a dumpling. Bánh bò hấp may be white in color, green (colored with pandan), pink, yellow, or purple. They are generally served with coconut sauce (made with coconut milk, sugar, salt, and tapioca starch), and/or toasted sesame seeds and crushed roasted peanuts.
Both varieties are available in Vietnam as well as in Asian grocery stores in nations with large overseas Vietnamese populations, such as the United States and France.
The South Indian steamed rice cake called idli is similar in texture, although idli are never sweet.