Ramie Leaf Dumpling with Mungbean Filling (Bánh Gai)

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Save Recipe ramie dumpling
  • 4Servings
  • 1 mPrep Time
  • 50 mCook Time
  • 1:50 hReady In
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This Vietnamese style dumpling is very special. The dough is made with (glutinous) rice flour mixed with pureed ramie leaves. Ramie plant (Boehmeria nivea) is actually a plant that produce fibers. Ramie leaves are green, but when they are cooked (steamed), they turn into a black color.

Boehmeria nivea - ramie leaves
Ramie leaves (Boehmeria nivea)

This dumpling is originated in northern Vietnam, where it is called bánh gai which literally means “ramie cake”.

Northern ramie dumpling - banh gai
Northern ramie dumpling – bánh gai

In southern Vietnam, the ramie-rice dough is also adapted to a traditional dumpling called bánh ít, and this ramie version is called bánh ít lá gai.

Southern ramie dumpling - banh it la gai
Southern ramie dumpling – bánh ít lá gai

Technically, bánh gai and bánh ít lá gai are almost the same. The small difference is: the northern one is wrapped in a flat shape in dried banana leaves before getting steamed, while the southern one is wrapped in green banana leaves and in a pyramid shape.

This recipe follows the northern version. The southern version is a little more challenging in wrapping phase. It’s also noted that even in northern version, there are some discrepancies in the filling ingredients. Some people use mung bean paste with some lard, others use molasses instead of sugar, some used roasted sesame while other use vanilla powder, etc…

Ingredients

Step by step method

  • Making rice-ramie dough

    Cook green/dried leaves until they are soft, then blend and strain for clumps. Then knead with rice flour to make a dough. If you have ramie leaf powder, just mix with rice flour with some water. Add molasses, and some drops of banana essence or vanilla, and continue to knead, then let the dough rest for 30mins.

  • Prepping the filling

    Steam the mung beans. In a saucepan, add cooked mung beans, sugar, coconut shreds and stir until the sugar is dissolved. You can add some melted lard or oil in the dough so that it won't get burned. Divide the dough and roll into balls

  • Wrapping dumplings

    Clean the banana leaves with a kitchen tower. Rub your hands with banana essence. Flatten a dough ball then add a filling ball. Seal the ball then slightly flatten it. Sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds on the outside and press them with your fingers. Finally, wrap each dumpling in some layers of banana leaves.

  • Steaming

    In a steamer, add banana-wrapped dumplings and steam for 40-50mins.

Tips & variations

  • Dried banana leaves help preserve the dumplings for a few extra days, but probably it won't be necessary if you just keep them in the fridge.

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