Banh cam recipe vietnamese sesame balls

Bánh cam or bánh rán is one of the most famous and beloved Vietnamese desserts. A golden brown shell of sesame studded rice flour that is crispy on the outside yet chewy on the inside, yielding to a sweet and moist mung bean coconut filling. Growing up, my mom would make hundreds of bánh cam to sell and raise money for various charitable organizations and the entire family would sit around the table to help. Ever since we all moved away for college and our separate careers, it’s just been my dad helping her roll the bánh cam. It’s been years since I’ve laid my hands on this sweet ball of love, but recently, my parents came for a visit and we had the pleasure of convening around the table again as a family to make some bánh cam.

We’re not going to spend too much time belaboring the differences between bánh cam and bánh rán (as northerners would say) as they are nearly identical. Banh cam can sometimes be served with simple syrup and sometimes may not have sesame. Most of our friends and westerners affectionately call them sesame balls, which works perfectly fine with us.

Soak mung beans overnight or at least 1 hr in warm water. Steam until soften and easily smashed with your finger tips, roughly 20 minutes (or longer if not soaked overnight). In meantime, dissolve sugar in warm water. When mung bean has cooled, transfer to mixing bowl and coarsely mash. Add the sugar water mixture and coconut and mix well. The texture should be like mashed potatoes. Allow to cool and form small quarter size balls of mung bean. Refrigerate covered.

Dissolve the sugar in 2 1/2 cup of warm water. In large mixing bowl, add sugar mixture and the potato flakes and stir to dissolve. Then add the baking powder and stir to dissolve. Finally add the two types of rice flour and mix together to form a big ball of dough. There is no need to knead the dough. The dough should be a wet play-dough consistency. Add a few tablespoons at a time of the extra 1/4 cup of water to the dough and mix well if it’s too dry or gets to dry when working. Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough and form into a ball. Flatten to a disk with palm of your hands and thin out the edges to form a pancake. If the dough cracks at the edges, it’s too dry. Add a few tablespoons at a time of the 1/4 cup of water to the dough and mix well. Place the filling in the center and fold dough edges together and seal seams by rolling in the palm your hands.

Awesome! Everyone loves these things! I remember making them with my mom and ours would crack/explode on us. They never quite came out intact with that beautiful golden hue all over like you see in the store (yours are beautiful looking, by the way). I am curious about the use of mashed potato flakes (you’re talking instant mashed potato flakes, right?) – that can’t be authentic, correct? I can’t imagine Vietnamese people having access to that in Vietnam. So I assume this was “Americanized” somehow? Is it substituting for an ingredient that is hard to get here?

Would love, love, LOVE it if you can make this one dish I recall from my childhood in Laos. I am sure it is a Vietnamese dish, but I’ve not had it in the U.S. It sounds like bahn cog (not sure the exact phonetics or spelling on it). Basically it was made by pouring batter into this round pan that is similar to a muffin pan (the holes for the dough are about the size of golf balls cut in half). The whole pan sits over the heat source and when the dough is mostly cooked, you add the typical minced pork (not sure what else is in it, though) and then I think you add fresh bean sprouts. When it’s done cooking, you take one half of the circle (which doesn’t have the filling) and flip it over the half that has the filling. So you basically end up with a filled golf ball looking thing when done. It’s eaten drenched in sweetened nuoc mam. Even if you don’t know how to make it, if you recognize it or the Vietnamese name, that would be great. Thanks in advance. Keep up the awesome work. You guys should seriously consider a professional cookbook at some point.