Today I will kick off my new food series! I call it “What is it?” because that seemed clever enough.

In this series I will take one new food that I’m baffled by and break it down for your enjoyment. If all goes well, then my body will break it down for nourishment. If not… well, we’ve all been down that path (God, those jerky strips – never again. OR maybe, for science, if I’m desperate).

But, no seriously:

WHAT IS IT?

If it looks like a duck:
The item is about 1.75 inches in diameter, and advertises that it was made [on the day of purchase] by Donut Bakery (presumably baked, then?). It is two alternating shades of greenish/yellow in a vaguely well-shape, like it was made in the bottom of a muffin tin. It was located in among the fresh breads. There were no other visibly-different types of this item available.

And costs as much as a duck:
The item cost 5,000 VND/ 0.24 USD.

And feels like a duck:
The item is squishy, yet oddly firm. It doesn’t flop around, but is the consistency of a memory-foam mattress. It’s sealed with a piece of scotch tape.

And smells like a duck:
The item smells weirdly like graham crackers. It smells like a citrusy cheesecake, maybe? It’s… not wet, exactly, but more like a denser jello jiggler. I can see it’s not perfectly round, now that I’ve got it unwrapped.

And tastes like a duck:
The item does NOT taste like graham crackers. It’s thicker than it looks, and rather heavy for its size. It’s vaguely sweet, but pleasantly so, like the essence of fruit or a sweet vegetable rather than chocolate or sugary things. Maybe fruit puree mixed with layers of puree/coconut milk? Because it’s small I finish the whole thing. It was good, I decide. I still have NO idea what it is made up of. I hope fruit, but I’m prepared for something denser. The inside layers of yellow were decidedly more toothsome than the green layers.

TO THE GOOGLE LAB!

Then it must be: Bánh da lợn! According to the wikipedia article, this treat “(literally “pig skin cake”) is a Vietnamese steamed layer cake made from tapioca starch, rice flour, mashed mung beans, taro, or durian, coconut milk and/or water, and sugar.”

Right on the coconut milk, and that’s about all! Not disappointed. Very good stuff.

Here’s a recipe, if you can find pandan leaves and mung beans around town. The preparations aren’t that hard, and they will yield a delicious dessert if you are looking for something impressive and exotic for a dinner party.

Would I buy and eat this item again on purpose?
Yes. I don’t have any cultural reference about when it’s appropriate to eat this, but it seems like a good, quick snack that is pleasing to look at and gentle on the palate. Probably not a lot of nutrition, but I didn’t buy something lime green and gelatinous for nutrition. I bought it ’cause it looked FUN!

Rating:
5 out of 5