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February 16, 2007
Xoi (Vietnamese sticky rice)

[tight bento with 2 kinds of sticky rice, edamame, and raspberries]

Contents: xoi gac (the orange flower-shaped xoi), xoi lap suong gio lua (the xoi with the meat toppings), edamame in a star-shaped tin, raspberries


There are many different varieties of xoi in Vietnam. Growing up, my mom mostly made the sweet versions, but I have grown to love savoury xoi as an adult. The hubs and I picked up some different varieties while we were out the other day. Very tasty and filling -- sticky rice is more dense than its fluffier cousins.

The bright orange xoi gac is made from gac fruit, which I think is called momordica here (which isn't all that helpful, as I bet you've never heard of momordica). Gac fruit is indigenous to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia, and its pulp contains very high concencentrations of beta-carotene and other carotenoids (hence the bright color). The taste is very lightly sweet.

The savoury xoi is plain sticky rice, most likely steamed with a bit of coconut milk, topped with a mixture of sliced lap suong (Chinese sausage) and strips of gio lua (Vietnamese silky pork sausage). Lap suong is called lap cheong by Chinese and is also sold as lachang. It has always been a favorite ingredient of mine -- I love the salty and slightly sweet chewiness of it. I just don't love that each link has maybe 8,000 grams of fat in it. Ok, so maybe not that much, but lap suong is definitely not a low-calorie food. Luckily, it is very flavorful, so a little goes a long way. Gio lua is made by pounding lean pork with a pestle until it is a smooth paste. The pork paste is seasoned, then shaped into a log, tightly wrapped in banana leaves, then bound with string. The roll is then boiled for hours to cook it all the way through. Gio lua was another childhood favorite. I used to steal chunks of it from the fridge -- I'm surprised my mom never called me on it. :)


One of you great readers suggested that I create bento shopping lists on Amazon. When I finally have the time to slog through all of my emails and Livejournal comments, I will find you and thank you properly. In the meantime, here are the lists I created (also available here):

The cookbook list is a work in progress, as I can't remember all of the cookbooks I like! :) I hope the shopping lists are helpful.

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