Banh cam and banh ran are nearly identical to one another, albeit with subtle regional differences. Crisp on the outside and chewy inside, these golden-fried glutinous balls are coated with sesame seeds and filled with sweetened mung bean paste. They are one of the most popular desserts across Vietnam.
Bánh rán is a deep-fried glutinous rice ball from northern Vietnamese cuisine. In Vietnamese, bánh is a category of food including cakes, pies, and pastries, while rán means “fried.”
The outer shell is made from glutinous rice flour, and covered all over with white sesame seeds. The filling is made from sweetened mung bean paste, scented with jasmine flower essence. Traditionally, the filling should be separated from the shell so that if one shakes the bánh rán, one can feel the filling rattle against the inside of the shell. Another difference is that the Northern version is traditionally eaten with a sugary syrup that is poured over the pastry.
In southern Vietnam, a similar dish, called bánh cam, is nearly identical to bánh rán, but does not contain the jasmine essence. A further difference is that for bánh cam the filling does not need to be separated from the shell.
Mung Bean Filling
- 8 oz split peeled mung beans
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 1/2 cup water plus extra 1/4 cup
- 1 cup sugar
- 16 oz bag glutinous rice flour
- 1 cup rice flour
- 2 tbs baking powder
- 2/3 cup mash potato flakes
- 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.
- Roll in a bowl of sesame seeds to cover completely. Roll in the palm of your hands to make sure the sesame seeds stick.
- Cover loosely at room temperature and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
- Fry at 325 degrees, rotating the banh cam frequently for even frying. It’s okay to fry many at a time as you want them to be submerged in oil for even frying.
When golden brown, remove and drain and enjoy.
You can make this up to one day in advance before frying.
To reheat, toast in toaster oven until crispy.