If you’re a fan of street food then you should definitely try the Vietnamese Longan Ball Pastry or better known to locals as Banh Nhan. Unlike the name suggests, it has nothing to do with the Longan itself. Its name was most likely derived from the fact that it is shaped like and has the same appearance of a Longan fruit.
Unlike the Longan though, this pastry is pretty chewy. And while it might not be a full meal, it is definitely a good snack to have when you’re out with friends.
What Exactly is a Longan Ball Pastry (Banh Nhan)?
The Longan Ball Pastry, or better known as Banh Nhan, is a Vietnamese street food most popular in the Saigon area. The pastry is made up of sticky rice flour and egg. The ingredients are combined and deep-fried in lard and tossed in sugar while it is piping hot.
The Banh Nhan is a Vietnamese street food that is native specifically to Nam Dinh, but you can also find a version of the dish from Hai Hau. Although it originated in Nam Dinh, most locals believe that the Banh Nhan from Hai Hau taste better due to the quality of rice powder that it uses.
Banh Nhan that is made in Hai Hau often uses yellow-flowered glutinous rice powder – a type of rice powder that is popular in Vietnam for its unique flavours. Thus, giving the Banh Nhan from Hai Hau a more fragrant flavour.
It’s a particularly simple recipe, but the chewy and sweet element of the dish makes it an addictive food snack. Hence, why it has become really popular in the Vietnamese Street Food scene. And although it has a simple recipe, those who are a fan of the snack will argue that some sellers do it better than others.
Some places, like the Thanh Hoa province, only produce the Longan Ball Pastry out of ordinary rice flour (not glutinous) by soaking the rice, pureeing them and kneading them into a palm-sized ball. Before covering them with black sesame and sugar, giving it a darker colour compared to the traditional Banh Nhan.
The Nutritional Content of Longan Ball Pastries (Banh Nhan)
The Banh Nhan is not necessarily nutritional. However, it is a snack that has low calorific content.
A serving of Banh Nhan (about 3 Longan Ball Pastries) is just less than 200 calories. However, because it is deep-fried in lard, it is advised to only be consumed every once in a while as a treat and not for daily consumption.
Where can you get Longan Ball Pastries (Banh Nhan) in Malaysia
Because the Banh Nhan is a very speciality dish, it is rare to find the original recipe being sold in Malaysia.
If you want to get a hint of what the Banh Nhan might taste like, make your way to Saigon Avenue in Petaling Jaya and try their Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolls (Banh cuon nhan thit). It’s a similar pastry, except that it’s filled with minced chicken and mushroom in the centre.
Craving for other types of Vietnamese cuisine? Scroll through the foodpanda app and choose from the many Vietnamese restaurants that are available for delivery near you now!