Com Lam (Vietnamese sticky rice in bamboo) is a specialty of ethnic minorities such as the Thai, Muong, Nung, Tay, La Ha and Mang in the Central Highlands and Northwestern Vietnam. It is cooked from rice or sticky rice in bamboo tube, served with a mixture of roasted sesame, peanuts and salt or grilled wild boar skewers. Locals say that there’s nothing better than enjoying Com Lam, sipping some Ruou Can (Straw Wine) and chatting together.
Previously, ethnic groups usually brought bamboo tubes, rice, salted roasted sesame on their long trips into forests. They used dried wood and stream water in forests to cook Com Lam. This simple food has become popular among them until today although life is better and they don’t need to go to forests to make their livings. Com Lam is not only a favorite food, it’s considered as the soul of ethnic groups. At festivals, they usually perform cooking Com Lam skills to introduce to tourists their special food as well as colorful culture.
The bamboo tubes should be fresh, dark green, young and 30 cm long. Sticky rice should have high quality and special flavor. Sticky rice is cleaned and soaked in water for about seven hour. Then it’s mixed with ground ginger and salt before being put into the bamboo tube. Water and coconut water (optional) are cover onto the sticky rice, all of ingredients don’t need to fill the tube so that sticky rice can be well-done. Lastly, the tube is tightly covered by banana leaves before being cooked on fire until it smells pleasant. To serve, the cook use a sharp knife to remove the green skin of the bamboo, dinners tear off the thin layer of bamboo when they eat.
Smelling the blending fragrance of fresh bamboo, banana leave, and sticky rice while tasting the sweet flavor of rice, bamboo, and coconut is a good way to enjoy this amazing food. Salted roasted sesame and peanuts or grilled wild boar skewers couldn’t be missed.
Visiting Vietnam, tourists will have a big chance to not only discover unique life and culture of ethnic groups but also tasting some Com Lam. This is the best way to immerse yourself into nature and indigenous people.