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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Xôi Chiên Giòn (Pan-Fried Sticky Rice Cake)

Pleiku is a special place. It has 2 seasons really but the evenings are always chilly regardless of how hot the day may be. During the rainy season, it always rain, from morning to night, day in, day out. My favorite time of the year is when the Vietnamese lunar new year approaches - when all the trees and flowers are waiting to burst into spring. What a wonderful feeling it is to be walking down one of these streets in Pleiku on a cold or even rainy day and having your soul yearning for something wonderful to fill. And just as you could have imagined, the wonderful aroma of xôi chiên (pan-fried sticky rice cake) comes wafting through the evening air. . . and fills your senses.

That nostalgic scent of street food is incredibly irresistible and beckons me to my kitchen once again.

My older daughter longs to have me deliver homemade food to school for her every day at lunch.  I like to make different kinds of food that is easy to pack for her and also for my little one to munch on after school.  This xôi chiên is one of their favorite savory snacks.  It's crunchy on the outside, chewy  on the inside, and the filling is packed with tantalizing flavors of ground pork, carrot, jimaca, onion, and mushroom. While it's still warm  and crunchy, one won't do your tummy justice.

A few weeks ago, my childhood friend from Pleiku helped capture these pictures of a lady who sells xôi chiên right in front of the school.  I can see that now xôi chiên is also filled with cooked mung bean, boiled eggs beside the other ingredients. I like to keep my version of xôi chiên simple just as I've seen and tasted it more than twenty years ago.

RECIPE: Xôi Chiên


For Sweet Rice
4 cups Sweet Rice
3 1/2 cups Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt

For Filling
1/2-3/4 pound Ground Pork
1 Onion, diced, make 1 cup
1 large Carrot, diced, make 1 cup
1 small Jicama (củ sắn), diced, make 1 cup
6-8 dried Shiitaki Mushroom, soaked, sliced, make 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Corn or Tapioca Flour
2 tablespoons Water

Cookie Cutter, any shapes

Cooking Sweet Rice

Rinse sweet rice a few times until water is clear.  Drain.  Pour the rice, water and salt in a rice cooker and cook. Make sure to stir it a couple times to ensure the sweet rice is cooked evenly. Remove rice from the cooker and let it cool down.

Blanching Jicama and Carrot

Peel and dice jicama and carrots. Make one cup each.   Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add jicama and carrot, and blanch for a couple minutes.  Remove and drain.  Set aside.
Preparing Mushrooms

Soak mushrooms in hot water to speed up the process if necessary. Otherwise, room temperature water is fine.  When mushrooms are soft, slice thinly.  Make 1/2 cup. Set aside.

Cooking the Meat

Bring a pan to a medium-high heat, add oil, mushroom, and onion. Saute until fragrant.

Add carrot, jicama, mushroom and saute for a couple minutes.  Add meat, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, and black pepper.  Mix well and saute until meat is cooked.

Mix well flour and water.  Pour over the meat and stir well.
Molding Sticky Rice Cake

In a small bowl, add water and set aside.  This water is to prevent your fingers from sticking to the sweet rice.

Place sweet rice in 1/3 of  the cookie cutter.  Dip your fingers in the water bowl, then press the rice down with your fingers.

Add a layer of filling then another layer of sweet rice.

Pack the cake down with your fingers and remove the cake from the cookie cutter.  
Pan-Frying Sticky Rice Cake 

Bring a pan on a medium heat.  Add oil.  Once the oil is hot, place the cakes on the pan and fry until both sides are golden brown.


Enjoy xôi chiên while it's still warm and crunchy.  For those who love spicy food,  swirl some sriracha hot sauce over it to add some heat!.

Hope you are enjoying this on a cold or rainy day as you are strolling vicariously down the street of my hometown Pleiku!

Biển Hồ (Sea Lake), a freshwater lake to the north of Pleiku City of Gia Lai Province


  1. It is so yummy. Thanks for writing the recipe chi. I will make it soon.

  2. Suddenly found your blog at midnight while looking for bánh canh recipe cuz i was craving for some. I was born and raise in Pleiku too and come to US to study. Reading your blog makes me miss home and my childhood and all of the street food that i had when i was young. Thank you for sharing the recipe and story. I'll visit your blog more often from now :D