Growing up in Houston, I frequently ate at Tan Tan Restaurant on Bellaire, as so many Vietnamese and Chinese Houstonians do. Beyond the delicious egg and rice noodle dishes I devoured, the highlight of each meal at Tan Tan was the opening appetizer, Banh Bot Chien. Crispy, soft, eggy, sweet, salty, and tart all at the same time, Banh Bot Chien at Tan Tan was a staple of my childhood.
Since leaving Houston, I have not consumed Banh Bot Chien. It’s a bit of a hybrid Chinese-Vietnamese dish, with its foundation taking cues from daikon rice cakes often eaten at Chinese Dim Sum, and it’s most commonly consumed as a street dish item in Saigon, so it seems to be unpopular in most Vietnamese restaurants.
After years of Banh Bot Chien’s absence from my diet, I finally decided to make it in the Fierro home. While the rice cakes require quite a bit of time to cook and then cool, the final product is a perfect blend of flavors and textures that will lead to a great amount of joy, whether or not Banh Bot Chien is a new or an old friend to your dining table.
The rice cake here is made with chicken broth, so for a vegetarian version, feel free to use vegetable stock or a vegetable bouillon base. Hope you enjoy it!
Background music provided by Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano No1 in E minor Op38