What to Eat for Vietnamese Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Moon Festival)

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In Vietnam, Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Moon Festival) is one of the biggest holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month. Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is also known as “Children’s Festival”. Though there is a similar festival in China at the same time of year, the origin of the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival differs from Chinese legend. The festival in Vietnam was used as a chance for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season. During the harvest, adults worked hard and spent a lot of time away from their families. Thus parents wanted to do something special with their children and also celebrate the harvest. The festival was held under the full moon, which symbolized fullness and prosperity of life.

During the festival, children parade around and sing in the streets while carrying colorful lanterns at night. Popular lantern shapes include fish (carp are the most popular), butterflies, and stars. The carp-shaped lantern is an important tradition, because legend had it that a carp spirit once killed many people during Mid-Autumn night. No one dared go outside at night for fear of the spirit. Then a wise man made a carp-shaped lantern. He told people they should walk out at night with the carp-shaped lanterns in order to protect them. The carp spirit was scared of the light from the lanterns and did not go out to kill at Mid-Autumn since then.

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Families celebrate the festival together by eating mooncakes, carrying lanterns, and worshiping the God of Earth. People spend a lot of time cleaning and decorating their house with lanterns. Usually an altar is set up at home Mid-Autumn night, and people lay mooncakes, snacks, and fruit upon it. Afterwards, family members will sit and eat together while appreciating the moon. Then they will go outside and sit under the moon to eat mooncakes and drink tea. This is especially exciting for children because it means they can stay up late. Additional festival activities include dragon boat races, offering sacrifices to dragons, lantern fairs, and lion dances.

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Look below for foods to eat during Tet Trung Thu!

  1. Banh Trung Thu (Mooncakes)

Banh Trung Thu or Mooncakes are an essential part of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. The two most common type of mooncakes are Banh Nuong (baked cakes with a wheat crust) or Banh Deo (soft and sticky cakes). In Vietnam, there are many varieties of mooncake filling flavors. Sweet fillings include lotus paste, red bean paste, and mung bean paste. While savory fillings include pork, sausage, and salted egg yolk.

2. Dau Xahn Vung (Sesame Rice Balls)

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Dau Xanh Vung or sesame rice balls are popular sweet treat in Vietnam. They are sweet ball-shaped dumplings made of rice flour, filled with mung bean paste, covered in sesame seeds, and then deep fried. Vietnamese sesame rice balls are modeled after a Chinese recipe where the sweet dumplings are filled with red bean or lotus paste.

3. Banh Bao (Steamed Buns)

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Banh Bao or Steamed Buns originated in China, but are commonly eaten in Vietnam. The buns are made from wheat dough and are filled with pork or vegetables. They are steamed in a bamboo or metal steamer in order to cook them.

4. Pate Chaud (Hot Pastry Pies)

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Banh pate or Pate chaud is a popular French-inspired pastry that is eaten in Vietnam. It is a flaky lightly layered pastry that is traditionally filled with ground pork before it is baked. Adding fish sauce to the meat filling makes the pastry distinctive to Vietnam. Ground chicken and beef are also sometimes used as fillings.

5. Goi Cuon (Summer Rolls)

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Goi Cuon or Summer Rolls consists of poached pork, poached shrimp, fresh mint, vegetables, and rice noodles all rolled up in rice paper. They are usually dipped in Hoisin sauce and garnished with crushed peanuts. The rolls are served cold or at room temperature.

6. Cha Gio (Fried Spring Rolls)

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Cha gio or Fried Spring Rolls are a popular food in Vietnam. The crispy spring rolls are usually made with ground pork or crab then they are wrapped in thin rice or wheat wrappers before they are fried. Traditionally the rolls are eaten by hand and would be served with lettuce leaves and fresh herbs before being dipped into a sauce called nuoc mam.

7. Vit (Duck)

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In Vietnam, duck meat is a traditional dish to eat during the festival. It was said that duck nourishes the body to fight the dryness during autumn and winter. People eat it roasted and sometimes put it in soups.

8. Mam Ngu Qua (Five Fruit Tray)

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The five fruit tray is given as an offering to ancestors. One theory says the five fruits symbolize the five elements – metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Others theorize that the tray is symbolic of the fruits of a family’s hard work throughout the year. Many different kinds of fruits can be used in the tray; kumquats, peaches, bananas, persimmons, pomelos, mangos, papayas, watermelons, coconuts, oranges, plums, mangos, pears, grapes, and figs.


Tag @culinary_cupcake when you upload your photo on Instagram and hashtag #culinary_cupcake


Tag @culinary_cupcake when you upload your photo on Instagram and hashtag #culinary_cupcake


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