Visiting Hanoi by the end of August or beginning of September, tourists not only can enjoy the smell of milk flower (a very typical flower for fall in Hanoi), but also can enjoy Cốm, one of the most favorite gifts during this season.
Cốm is green rice flakes or grilled rice. It is made from unripen sticky rice. Although there are many types of sticky rice that can be used to make this food such as phoenix cereal rice, fragrant sticky rice, sticky tan, tangerine sticky rice, flower sticky rice, only yellow flower sticky rice can create the most delicious and tasty Cốm.
Rice growing farmers are the only ones who truly understand when it is time to gather young grains to make Cốm. Then young grains are harvested, roasted and ground down to become Cốm. They are put into a large firing pan under small flames and stirred slowly for a specific period of time. They are then poured into a rice mortar and slightly pounded with wooden pestle, rhythmically and at quick intervals until the husk is removed. Following this, the young rice is removed from the mortar and the process repeated. This is then repeated exactly seven times so that all the husk is removed from the young sticky grains. If the pounding is done irregularly and in haste, or it is not repeated for the prescribed seven times, the green colour of the grains will disappear and be replaced by an unexpected brown color.
Cốm is regarded as a purely pastoral gift. To enjoy Cốm, it is advisable to chew it slowly so that one can feel the stickiness of the young rice and at the same time enjoy its sweet and fragrant taste. It can be eaten with bananas too.
The most famous and delicious Cốm is made in Vòng village in Cau Giay district of Hanoi. Visiting this village during Cốm making season, one can both enjoy newly tasty made Cốm but also have chance to see or even experience one stage of making this food.
During its season, Cốm is not difficult to buy. It is sold on almost streets and stations.