Story: Cam Ly
Stylist: Thuy Duong
Photos: Duc Bui (Deto Concept)

Rustic sweets remind us of our childhoods in the years before many varieties of packaged confections were widely available in Vietnam. Even today, these traditional snacks are sold by itinerant street vendors. Treats like crisp and crunchy dried bananas, homemade ice cream cones, rice cookie sticks and molasses-coated rice cookies still delight children.

A special machine is used to bake the sweet rice sticks, which are made of rice and sugar. The machine releases the rice sticks one by one and cuts them into long pieces. Rice sticks smell of newly milled rice and taste so crunchy from the very first bite.

Also made of rice, molasses-coated cookies are another popular treat. The cookies are made of consistently sized grains of glutinous rice, ensuring that the finished cookies look beautiful. Glutinous rice grains are baked in a special machine until they are cooked and have doubled to twice their original size. The grains are washed to remove the husks, leaving only the newly baked grains. Molasses is simmered until amber brown to make the coating. The cook pours the rice grains into the hot molasses mixture and stirs until the grains are stuck together, then pours the mix into a rectangular mold, compresses it into bite-sized pieces, or kneads it into balls. The sweet molasses and crisp, crunchy glutinous rice keeps kids coming back for more.

Kids with a sweet tooth also love mildly sweet dried bananas, which are delicious and crunchy. Bananas are chopped into long, thin pieces, mixed with sugar syrup and hung in the sun to dry until they turn amber brown with a shiny caramelised coating. All of these snacks bring to mind fond childhood memories.