Rice Paper and crackers

Rice Paper and Crackers

Rice Paper and Crackers

Thổ Hà is a peaceful riverside village in Bắc Giang Province, about 50 kilometres north of Hà Nội. Thổ Hà used to specialize in making pottery wares, but now it is known as one of the few remaining historic villages that still make rice paper and other rice products in the traditional way.

Making rice paper, which is mostly used for spring rolls, as well as other rice goods such as crisp rice pancakes and rice noodles, is the village’s main and most popular source of income.

Rice paper, also known as “bánh đa nem” in the north and “bánh tráng” in the south, is something that every Việtnamese is familiar with. It is a necessary ailment in home-meal preparation. As a result, the art of creating rice paper has previously appeared in numerous traditional trade villages across Việt Nam, with Thổ Hà Village being one of the most well-known.

The village dates back to the 12th century and is one of Việt Nam’s three oldest pottery villages, alongside Phù Lãng and Bát Tràng. Thổ Hà, quickly grew into a bustling commercial port in the Gulf of Tonkin. The extreme prosperity rewarded its citizens with splendid temples, pagodas, the village main gate, and other magnificent buildings. Until the year 1988 when goods made of plastic took over from China, the pottery making was dissolved in the lack of popularity and markets, which marked the end of its 900-year golden age. Fortunately, it seems like a good chance as it opened a new door for later generations in the village. They started making different kinds of rice paper and noodles from rice flour ever since the 90s.

It is a year-round occupation. And the daily tasks begin as soon as the rice is crushed and combined with water in the early hours. The mixture is then placed onto a heated, steamy textile-like surface. It then turns into a thin coating of paper-like substance after about half a minute. This is the early stage of rice paper.

The wet rice papers would then be laid out on bamboo lattices. They then take these lattices outside to dry. Bamboo lattices can be seen along narrow alleys, in the common house’s yard, on top of house roofs and even on the trees as you stroll through the town.

As simple as it may appear, the quality of the finished product is highly dependent on the skill of the craftsmen, particularly when it comes to the soaking and spreading techniques. Another significant element to consider is the weather. Heavy rain can make rice papers fusty, and too much sunlight can make them crunchy and easy to break, thus the optimal condition for rice paper is to dry it in a slight mist in the air.

Rice paper is considered to be of good quality when it is soft, durable, thin, unbroken, and lightly salted. Thổ Hà rice paper is distinguished by its thickness and flexibility. When wet in water, it retains its firmness and elasticity rather than breaking like other varieties.

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Bulk Order (min $250) via Catersmith. Order must be placed at least 3 days in advance.