JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

‘Dong’ leaf village gears up for Tet (photos)

‘Dong’ leaf village gears up for Tet (photos)

Monday, January 27, 2014, 15:11 GMT+7

Since a few weeks before Tet (Vietnam’s Lunar New Year), the Trang Cat “dong” leaf village in Hanoi has been working full steam for the leaf harvest. These leaves are traditionally used for wrapping “banh chung” (square glutinous rice cakes), an indispensable Vietnamese delicacy during Tet.

These days, locals from Trang Cat village in Thanh Oai District have their hands full pruning and harvesting their leaf gardens, which boast lush, large green leaves, before having them transported across the country for Tet, which begins on January 31.

The village’s “dong” leaves are highly sought for their high quality and smooth texture. The leaves usually measure some 25-35cm in width and 50-60cm in length, which is a perfect fit for the “banh chung” frame.

After being wrapped in the leaves and tied with “lat” (thin strips from a bamboo-like plant), “banh chung”, made from glutinous rice, green beans and fatty pork and usually served with pickled vegetables, are put in a large container and boiled for several hours.

“Dong” leaves, particularly those grown in Trang Cat village, stand out from other types of leaves in that they offer a fresh natural green to the cake’s rice after being boiled and an irresistible fragrance, in addition to enriching its taste.

The “dong” is a highly adaptable plant, requiring little care or initial investment. Farmers only need to grow its roots once and enjoy harvests for several consecutive years.

According to Trinh Van Thuy, a Trang Cat resident, some 360 m² of the plant requires only VND500,000 (US$24) per year in investment, but yields some VND5-7 million ($335) in profits.

The leaves currently fetch VND5-7,000 apiece, while especially pretty ones can be sold for up to VND10,000.

Most Trang Cat villagers grow “dong” leaves, and the tradition dates back to almost 600 years ago. Villagers say the plants grow well in the village mostly thanks to the silty soil of the nearby Day River, an underground water current, and the suitable climate.

Though in recent years a number of local households have switched to growing fruit trees, which are more profitable, many still stick to the village’s hallmark plant.

“My family is determined to preserve the tradition no matter what it might take,” shared Bui Thi Thoan, a veteran “dong” leaf farmer.



Read more




‘Taste of Australia’ gala dinner held in Ho Chi Minh City after 2-year hiatus

Taste of Australia Gala Reception has returned to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Latest news