Bánh bò hấp
White Center Supermarket, $1.25
Bánh bò, or "cow cakes", are the Vietnamese version of a steamed rice cake that originated in China. Bánh bò batter includes rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and a leavener--traditionally yeast, but baking powder is sometimes used as a shortcut--which causes the batter to bubble dramatically when cooked. The resulting texture is as spongy as beef liver, earning these cakes their unexpected name.
Baked bánh bò nướng has a thin golden crust and is usually cut into wedges before serving. Steamed bánh bò hấp are usually smaller, round, and colorful; natural extracts of pandanus or magenta plant produce pastel green or purple, whereas the neon hues of the banh bo pictured hint at artificial food coloring. As sold in Seattle's Asian groceries, bánh bò hấp come snuggled onto a deli tray along with a tiny cup of creamy dipping sauce (coconut milk thickened with tapioca flour).
White Center Supermarket
9828 15th Ave SW