Beautiful Vietnam
The nostalgia of cốm the flavour of autumn
  • | vns | October 24, 2020 07:02 PM
Autumn has arrived in Hanoi with gentle breezes tenderly penetrating street corners, replacing the summer heat and scattering bunches of yellow leaves on the pavements.



It is also time for women from Vòng Village in Dịch Vọng Ward, Cầu Giấy District to produce and sell their cốm (green sticky rice) - one of Hanoi’s culinary specialities.


For most Hanoians, cốm and its related products made in Vòng Village are among the capital’s most important flavours of autumn, packed full of nostalgia. It is a symbol of gastronomy and elegance due to its a signature colour, flexibility and flavour which cốm from nowhere else can compete with.

The delicate but fragrant green grains reflect the labour, love and passion of the rice growers and cốm producers. It seems to be able to deposit the essence of the earth, the heavens, the scent of sunshine and wind.

Many have said staying in the capital without savouring cốm would be a major shortcoming of a Hanoi experience.

How cốm comes to life

Legend has it that one autumn a thousand years ago when farmers in Vòng Village were going to harvest their sticky rice, a storm came and caused huge damage to the crops.

The villagers tried to pick the remaining green rice from the storm-torn paddy fields and brought it home to stir fry.

The rice became a newly-invented dish and had helped them survive through hard days. Through generations, locals added more skills during the processing of cốm until they found it tasted so good that it eventually became more perfect and even went beyond the village to win the favour of all the citizens.

Ever since then, villagers have made cốm every autumn when the green rice is ready to harvest.

To make cốm, villagers work hard from about 5am to pick green sticky rice jewelled with dew.

Skill and hard work are needed to make authentic cốm flat, lime-green, chewy, sticky and smell pleasant like the scent of green rice, so many of the makers have to learn how to make cốm from a very young age.

The speciality is sold by street vendors or in shops. It can also be found on the breakfast or buffet menu of many hotels in Hanoi.

There are also cốm cakes - a Vietnamese must-have for happy occasions, including weddings and Lunar New Year.

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