Com, as known as green sticky rice, remains unforgettable in the heart of Hanoi people as it was mentioned in various Vietnamese poems and songs. Also, Com has been presented on special occasions as a traditional gift since the old days. Generally, Hanoi people prefer Com made by Vong villagers as it is the most delicious of all. Despite the decline of Com made by Vong villagers, this green sticky rice remains the best food in Hanoi.
Com in Vong Village
History of Com in Vong Village
The green sticky rice in Vong Village (now in Cau Giay District, Hanoi) originated from a myth: Once in late autumn, when rice paddies started growing, there was a heavy rain coming that made farmers unable to harvest. The whole rice paddies were terribly flooded. Then, Vong villagers had no choice than cut the remains of green rice and roasted it to use as reserved food. Upon eating Com, they realized how delicious and distinctive this green sticky rice was.
After this incident, Vong villagers usually make green sticky rice for eating when the autumn comes. Every time Com is remade, Vong villagers have improved the skill of creating sticky rice greener, tastier and more flexible in texture. The uniqueness of Com have attracted lots of people outside Vong village and become one of the most famous dishes of the capital. In the modern days, Com keeps maintaining the cultural spirit of Hanoi cuisine.
The making of Com
Com production has gone through a complex procedure which requires high dedication of Vong villagers. When rice paddies start growing, Vong residents will harvest the young rice. The selection of ingredients for Com is a complicated process in order to make sure that the rice maintains the flavor and flexibility. Therefore, Vong villagers make great efforts choosing the type of rice carefully.
Young rice selection for Com
After selection step, Vong villagers gently thresh the young rice into grains by hand to remove straws. Then, those grains are soaked in water for 24 hours for eliminating disqualified ones. Once Vong residents get the qualified rice grains, they begin to roast in a large firing pan under small flames about 30 minutes. During roasting step, they all make sure to have rice grains maintained green color by using firewood or charcoal.
Roasting young rice grains
After roasting, Vong villagers will check the young rice grains are well-cooked or not with strict requirements. If they are well-cooked, Vong people let them cool down. Then, those grains are poured into a big rice mortar and slightly pounded with a long wooden pestle to remove rice husks. Through grounding step, young rice grains are removed from the mortar and kept winnowing before pouring into the mortar again. Then the process keeps repeating until all the green color of rice grains disappears and replaces by the yellowish-brown color.
Final product of Com
How to enjoy Com to the fullest
To taste the most delicious green sticky rice, the best time to travel Hanoi is the Com season starting from July in Lunar calendar (around August to September in Western calendar). When Vong villagers begin harvesting young rice in the paddy fields, this event indicates the upcoming production of Com. To enjoy this wonderful food, it is highly recommended that you should chew Com slowly to feel the purity and stickiness of Com as well as the sweetness of it. You can eat Com as a snack or chew it with a ripe banana and a cup of hot tea, which stimulates the distinctness in flavor. Nothing is better than eating green sticky rice with a cup of tea on a cooling day of the late autumn season.
If you want to reserve Com to eat later, here are a few things that you should know. The final product of Com is wrapped in two lotus leaves which are the outer layers. Inside these two leaves, there is another layer of special leaf that prevents Com from drying and maintains its green color. To preserve the pleasant fragrance, keep Com below 10 degrees Celsius in the refrigerator. If you put Com in the freezer, whenever you want to eat, just take it out and let it thaw completely about 15 minutes.
Nowadays, besides fresh Com, green sticky rice is usually packed as flat square cakes. They are small and convenient for you to eat anytime. You can buy them directly from Vong village as gifts to your beloved people on special occasions. Just only 4,000 VN Dong and you will have a chance to taste the purity of Com from the soulful heart of Vong people.
Com square cakes from Vong Village
Through the test of globalization, Vong villagers are losing their interests in keeping up with Com-making tradition. However, Com keeps on being a symbolic trait of Hanoi food with pleasant taste and sophisticated techniques. Whenever you have a chance, just spend some time visiting Vong village during Com season. You will be amazed to witness the finesse of wonderful people making Com by hand. Admittedly, this village demonstrates the sophistication and delicacy of not only Hanoi people but also Vietnamese people in general.