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Xoi or steamed glutinous rice is a familiar snack in Hanoi. But xoi com or steamed green sticky rice is special because it’s only available for a short time each year when autumn comes.

The dish is distinguished by its unique flavor of young, green rice, lotus seeds and leaves. Those are ingredients that Mother Nature only awards to Hanoi.

Xoi com is also popular because of the work to prepare it. To have a good dish of xoi com,  cooks have to use green rice that is just mature enough from Vong Village, an ancient village known as a cradle of xoi com.

Grains of green rice are dipped into warm water for a short while. Xoi com’s quality will much depend on this step because if the water is too hot or the soaking time too long, the taste and shape of the grains will be affected. After removing the rice from water, cook until it starts turning sticky. Sprinkle sugar over it and continue to steam the rice on low heat.  Remove xoi from the heat and serve with lotus seeds, finely-ground cooked green beans and sugared copra.

Xoi com smells and looks delicious. It’s a wonderful combination of natural colors including the green of rice, white of lotus seeds and coconut, and yellow of beans like the autumn colors in Hanoi. Unlike ordinary xoi, xoi com is soft, sticky, and fragrant. It has the sweet taste of sugar, the buttery taste of green beans and lotus seeds and the crunchiness of copra.

Each time when autumn comes to town, female venders can be seen carrying trays of xoi com on their heads and wandering every street and alley. It’s time for Hanoi people to stop their vehicles and ask for a portion of xoi com wrapped in lotus leaves, to enjoy the unique taste of this simple food-the taste of Hanoi’s autumn.

By saigontimes

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