Wandering around Vietnam’s streets early in the morning, travellers can easily catch sight of a scrum of people gathering at a corner, waiting impatiently. Move a closer step, we can realize in the middle of the crowd, sits a woman with a small basket, continuously serving some strange food onto the banana leaf. That is “Xoi”- one of the most popular Vietnamese “fast food”.
“Xoi”; or “glutinous rice”, “sweet rice”, “sticky rice” in English; can be found in many Asian dishes, especially in the South East Asia areas. To cook “xoi”, Vietnamese often soak the glutinous rice for around four hours until the grains have absorbed enough water. Then, the rice will be drained and steamed dry so that the grains can remain as the whole, soft but not mushy, sticking together in a lump.
Sometimes people can also make “xoi” using electric rice cooker, with the same method when cooking regular rice. However, the grain will break down under the direct heat, becoming glue-like and soggy.
“Xoi” can be eaten at any time of the day, but typically, Vietnamese often choose it as a cheap and scrumptious dish for their morning meal.
Various kinds of Xoi
From one main white plain”xoi”, there are nearly hundreds variations have been created. Normally, sticky rice can be steamed together with other seeds like mung bean (black and red mung bean are also included), corn, peanut, etc.
As many other Vietnamese street food, “xoi” is a “enjoy it in your own way” cuisine, because one is free to eat with whatever he wants according to his personal taste!
For breakfast, people usually eat “xoi” with “ruoc”- stringy, salty dried pork; “muoi vung- salty sesame and peanut; or even with only deep fried shallots and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. It will cost around VND 7000 – VND 10000 for a simple set of “xoi”. Others may serve their “xoi” with braised egg, braised pork, ‘”lap xuong”- Chinese-like sausage, “gio cha”- Vietnamese pork pies, or chicken breast, chicken drumstick; but the price will be higher, from VND 15000 up to even VND 50000.
Different areas have various kinds of “xoi” with distinct taste. In the mountainous area of Northern Vietnam, the ethnic minority are very proud of their “five-color xoi”. “Xoi” is cooked with special local herbs which originate the colors of red, black, purple, and yellow. No food coloring using, all are natural and good for your health.
Hanoi, the capital, is famous for its “Xoi com”- “young green sticky rice”, a delicacy that is made only in autumn. Together with white coconut, the grains are so sweetly scent that it will leave a lasting flavor. In Southern Vietnam, coconut milk and panda leaves are also added, which makes “xoi” a sweet dessert fitting perfectly for supper.