Hoi An flourished thanks to its port, attracting traders f-rom China, Japan and the Mediterranean in the 16th, 17th centuries. Out of this mixture of cultures, a unique style of Vietnamese cooking developed, drawing upon a wide range of flavours, influences and cooking techniques.
Hoi An is now home to a number of specialty dishes, many of which can be traced to foreign origins. The most famous is cao lau, a tasty soup made with thick wheat noodles, meat and aromatic vegetables. A dryer version of the dish, mi quang and com ga, a tasty stir-fry of rice, chicken, garlic and vegetables is also widely available. And Chinese influenced cakes, called banh bao and banh vac (or White Rose) are becoming very common. This local specialty has started to enjoy popularity with tourists and has been written about in travel guides.
White Rose cake is actually a dumpling. A foreign tourist coined the name when he visited Hoi An and enjoyed the cake. Restaurant owners liked this name and decided to adopt it. After that, the cake started to appear in restaurants under the name White Rose.
The cake looks simple but the process of making it is not as easy as it looks. Using white rice f-rom the Mekong Delta, cooks grind the rice, mix it with water and filter it 15-20 times. Then the dough should be kneaded and rolled thin and cut into cake sized circles.
The filling is made of minced peeled shrimps that are mixed with spices. Portions of the mixture are placed in the center of each circle of dough, and then the dough is closed around the mixture like the petals of a rose.
After being steamed for 10 or 15 minutes, White Rose is served with a sauce made of shrimp broth, a bit of chilly, lemon and sugar. The cake is fragrant, sweet and chilli hot.
White Rose cakes are a pretty luxurious, famous for its exotic and delicious, and is considered as one of the special flavors of the ancient town of Hoi An. Coming to Hoi An, if visitors have not eaten White Rose cakes as they have not yet enjoy the taste of the ancient town.