Vietnamese Five-color Steamed Sticky Rice

The Five-color Steamed Sticky Rice in Northwestern Highlands of Vietnam

The five-color steamed sticky rice (“Xôi ngũ sắc” in Vietnamese) has long been noted as the regional specialty of the northwestern highlands of Vietnam. The interesting trait of the dish lies in the use of the five eye-catching colors to create the completely compatible set, representing the five elements. But note that each color might reflect the individual meanings that make the steamed glutinous rice with the five colors more special than the single one.


Introduction to the Five-Color Steamed Sticky Rice

The ethnic people like the Thai and Muong Lo have long settled in the Vietnam’s northwestern highlands. They have the unique cuisine, and the five-color steamed sticky rice combines the traditional and meaningful values, making it the specialty of the rocky highlands.

The first step to cooking the dish is to select the aromatic Tu Le sticky rice that can only be found in the Muong Lo Valley. Then, there uses the water taken from the Muong Lung stream as the locals believe that this water helps the rice more glutinous. Then, it comes to the creating color stage. The tray should always include the five iconic colors: red, yellow, white, green, and purple. While the white is made from the natural color of the rice, the red is from the red sticky rice, the yellow is from the ginger, the purple is from the black sticky rice, and the green can be from the ginger leaf.

Then, the sticky rice is soaked into the desired color liquid in 10 hours. Once the sticky rice gets colored, they are taken out of the liquid to begin cooking. The locals prefer using the traditional utensil to steam the glutinous rice. The steaming procedure requires the constant fires so that the rice becomes ripen, glutinous, and fragrant.

Once the sticky rice is steamed properly, it comes to the decoration stage. Due to the cookers’ preference, there are numerous ways to make the tray of the five-color sticky rice attractive. The most popular ones should be in the flower with five petals, the terraced rice fields, the flowery tower, etc.

Besides the general meanings of solidarity, loyalty, and filialness, the five-color steamed glutinous rice carries the individual interpretation for each color used. The red refers to the life ambition and dream, the purple denotes the fertile earth, the yellow indicates the affluence, the green implies the vastness of the northwestern forest, and the white reflects the pure and sincere love. That is the local perspective!

Link to adventure tour to the far north of Vietnam !

Enjoy the Five-Color Steamed Sticky Rice

The steamed glutinous rice with five colors is usually served with grilled pork sausage. Otherwise, the colorful sets can be eaten on their own thanks to the enchanting fragrance and taste. More interestingly, if you get the hands-on experience in cooking the five-color steamed sticky rice, you will truly find the dish more delicious and special than ever. It’s hard to forget the moments of creating the colors or decorating the five colorful glutinous balls on the tray.

At present, there are some attempts to introducing the five-color steamed glutinous rice to the oversea tourists, indicating that it is the remarkable specialty of the northwestern highlands of Vietnam. Anybody that eats this sticky rice at least once will surprise at the creativity of Thai women who create the fragrant, scrumptious, and attractive sticky rice balls better than elsewhere.