Ultimate Banh It Ram Recipe: A Guide to Perfect Texture & Flavor

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’ve all heard of the classics when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, but let’s dive into something a little less mainstream and equally delightful – Bánh Ít Ram. This hidden gem, originating from the central regions of Vietnam, is a fascinating blend of textures and flavors that promises to enchant your palate. At its heart, Bánh Ít Ram is a duo of sticky rice dumplings, one soft and the other crispy, united by a savory filling that sings with the flavors of Vietnam.

Embarking on this culinary adventure, we’ll guide you through crafting these delightful morsels from scratch. It’s not just about following a recipe; it’s about embracing the art of Vietnamese cooking and bringing a piece of its rich culture into your kitchen. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a curious foodie, this journey into the world of Bánh Ít Ram is bound to excite and inspire. Let’s get started and discover the magic of these little bites of heaven together.


Diving into the heart of Vietnamese culinary tradition, we’re excited to share what you’ll need to create the delectable Bánh Ít Ram. Gather these ingredients and prepare yourself for a flavor-packed journey!

For the Sticky Rice Dumplings (Bánh Ít)

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup of warm water (adjust as needed)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cooking oil

For the Crispy Rice Cakes (Bánh Ram)

  • 1 cup of jasmine rice
  • Water for cooking rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of water, for the dough
  • Oil, for deep frying

For the Filling

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of diced wood ear mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped green onions

For the Scallion Oil

  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup of neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, or Thai basil
  • Lettuce leaves, for wrapping
  • Pickled carrots and daikon radish
  • Dipping sauce, traditionally a mixture of fish sauce, water, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and fresh chili

Required Tools and Equipment

Diving into the art of making Bánh Ít Ram requires not just skill but also the right tools and equipment. Luckily, the list isn’t extensive and involves utensils commonly found in most kitchens. Let’s go through what we’ll need to ensure this culinary adventure is both fun and successful.

For Preparing the Fillings and Dough

  • Large Mixing Bowls: Essential for mixing the sticky rice flour and creating the dough for the dumplings. You’ll also need it to mix the filling ingredients thoroughly.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision matters in cooking, and having these will ensure that all ingredients are added in the correct proportions.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: A sturdy wooden spoon or spatula will make it easier to mix the dough and filling without sticking too much.
  • Kitchen Scale: If you prefer precision to the next level, a kitchen scale will be handy, especially for the dough and filling.

Cooking the Bánh Ít Ram

  • Steaming Basket: The dumplings require steaming, so a steaming basket that fits in one of your pots is essential.
  • Large Pot: Needed for boiling water to steam the dumplings and also for frying the crispy rice cakes.
  • Frying Pan or Wok: For frying the crispy rice cakes until they’re golden and crispy.
  • Paper Towels and Plate: These will be useful for draining excess oil from the fried rice cakes.
  • Serving Plates and Small Bowls: To serve the Bánh Ít Ram beautifully, have some serving plates for the dumplings and small bowls for the dipping sauce and scallion oil.
  • Chopsticks or Forks: Depending on your preference, these will be needed for enjoying the delicious Bánh Ít Ram.

As we move forward with making Bánh Ít Ram, having these tools and equipment ready will streamline the cooking process and elevate the experience. Now, let’s gather these items, and prepare to create something truly special from the comfort of our kitchens.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Embarking on the journey of making Bánh Ít Ram, it’s essential to know that many components can be prepared ahead of time. This not only makes the cooking process smoother but also ensures you can enjoy creating this dish without feeling rushed. Here are our tips for making parts of Bánh Ít Ram in advance.

Preparing the Filling

The filling is the heart of Bánh Ít Ram, rich in flavors and textures. You can prepare the filling a day or two before you plan to assemble the dumplings. Simply follow the recipe to cook the filling, let it cool down, and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This step locks in the flavors, making them even richer when you’re ready to use the filling.

Steaming the Sticky Rice Dough

The sticky rice dough is another component that you can prepare ahead. After mixing the dough according to the recipe, you can steam it a day in advance. Once steamed and cooled, lightly oil the dough’s surface to prevent it from drying out, wrap it in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator. The dough will remain pliable and ready to shape into dumplings.

Pre-Cooking the Crispy Rice Cakes

For those who love the crispy texture of Bánh Ít Ram, pre-cooking the rice cakes is a game-changer. You can prepare the rice cakes up to a week in advance. Fry them until they’re just beginning to crisp up, then let them cool and store in an air-tight container at room temperature. On the day of serving, simply re-fry them until perfectly crispy. This two-step frying process ensures the ultimate crispy texture that makes Bánh Ít Ram so unique.

Preparing the Scallion Oil

Scallion oil is a vibrant component that brings all the flavors together. It can be made several days ahead and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. The oil’s flavor will infuse over time, making it even more aromatic when it’s time to drizzle over your Bánh Ít Ram.

Preparing the Filling

Creating the perfect filling is a crucial step to ensure our Bánh Ít Ram dish bursts with flavor and texture. Let’s begin by cooking the meat and then proceed to season and cool it for the ultimate taste experience.

Cooking the Meat

To start, we’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and chopped onion, sautéing until they become translucent and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. We aim for a soft, golden hue, ensuring they release their flavors without browning too much.

Next, incorporate the ground pork, breaking it apart with a spatula. Cook until it’s no longer pink, roughly 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped shrimp to the skillet and continue cooking until the shrimp turns pink and is cooked through, which should take about 3-4 additional minutes.

It’s essential to keep the heat at a medium to prevent the meat from becoming tough. We want our filling juicy and flavorful, providing a delightful contrast to the crispy rice cakes.

Seasoning and Cooling

For seasoning, you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (for garnish)

Once the meat and shrimp mixture is fully cooked, stir in the fish sauce, sugar, and ground black pepper. Mix well to ensure the flavors are evenly distributed throughout the filling. The fish sauce adds depth, the sugar a slight sweetness, and the pepper a gentle heat, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that defines the character of Bánh Ít Ram.

Allow the mixture to cool down for about 10-15 minutes, off the heat. The cooling process is vital as it helps the flavors meld together better and makes handling the filling easier when assembling the dumplings. Sprinkle the finely chopped green onions over the mixture just before it cools completely. The residual heat will gently soften the onions, infusing the filling with its sweet, mild flavor without overpowering it.

Once cooled, our filling is ready to be enveloped in the sticky rice dough, taking us one step closer to savoring the delightful Bánh Ít Ram.

Making the Sticky Rice Dumplings

Now that we’ve perfected our filling with its rich flavors and textures, it’s time to turn our attention to the sticky rice dumplings, a fundamental component of Bánh Ít Ram. Let’s dive into the process of preparing the dough and shaping these delightful dumplings.

Preparing the Dough

To start, gather the following ingredients for your dough:

  • 2 cups of glutinous rice flour
  • 3/4 cup of water, adjust as needed
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

First, in a large mixing bowl, combine the glutinous rice flour and salt. Gradually add water and begin to knead the mixture. It’s crucial to add the water slowly, ensuring you have the perfect consistency—a pliable yet firm dough that doesn’t stick to your hands. If the dough feels dry and crumbles, don’t hesitate to add a bit more water, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the right texture.

Once your dough reaches a cohesive state, cover the bowl with a damp cloth. This prevents the dough from drying out as you move on to shaping and stuffing your dumplings.

Shaping and Stuffed Dumplings

With the dough ready, it’s time to create the dumplings. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Pinch off a piece of the dough, about the size of a large cherry, and roll it between your palms to form a smooth ball.
  2. Gently flatten the ball into a disc, ensuring it’s not too thin. Aim for a thickness that allows for a generous amount of filling but can still be sealed without tearing.
  3. Spoon a small portion of the cooled meat and shrimp filling into the center of the disc. The amount of filling will depend on your preference, but be mindful not to overfill to avoid leakage during cooking.
  4. Carefully bring the edges of the dough up and over the filling, pinching them together at the top to seal. It’s like wrapping a tiny gift. The goal is to encase all of the fillings securely within the sticky rice dough.
  5. Roll the filled dough gently between your palms again to smooth out any seams and ensure a good seal. This step is vital for maintaining the dumpling’s shape during cooking.

Repeat this process with the remainder of the dough and filling. Remember, practice makes perfect, and soon you’ll be shaping and stuffing these dumplings like a pro. The joy of seeing your hand-crafted Bánh Ít Ram come together is part of the experience—enjoy these moments in the kitchen as we prepare to fry these dumplings to golden perfection in the next steps.

Cooking the Dumplings

Now that our flavorful dumplings are shaped and filled, it’s time to bring them one step closer to serving. Let’s dive into how to properly cook them to ensure they are delicious and ready to be enjoyed.

Steaming the Dumplings

First up, we’ll steam our dumplings. Start by filling a large steamer with water and bring it to a boil. If you don’t have a traditional steamer, any large pot with a steaming basket will work just as well. Make sure the water level is high enough to produce steam but not touching the dumplings. Lightly oil the steamer’s surface or line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking. This little tip ensures our dumplings remain intact and beautiful.

Place the dumplings in the steamer, leaving enough space between each one to allow for expansion. This is crucial as the glutinous rice flour will cause the dumplings to swell, and we want each one to cook evenly without sticking together. Steam the dumplings for about 20 to 25 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when they become slightly translucent and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the dumplings are steaming, you might notice the aromatic blend of the seasoned filling infusing the air, a small tease of the delightful meal that’s to come.

Keeping Dumplings Warm

Once the dumplings are steamed to perfection, it’s essential to keep them warm until they’re ready to be served. The best way to do this is to leave them in the steamer, with the heat turned off. The residual steam will keep them warm without overcooking them. If you’re not serving them immediately, cover the steamer with a clean kitchen towel and then with the lid. The kitchen towel will absorb any excess moisture, preventing the dumplings from becoming soggy.

To maintain the ideal texture and warmth, try to serve the dumplings within an hour of cooking. They are best enjoyed fresh, boasting a soft and chewy texture that pairs wonderfully with the crispy exterior we’ll achieve in the next step of frying.

By following these steps, we ensure our Bánh Ít Ram dumplings are perfectly steamed, maintaining their shape, texture, and warmth, ready to delight everyone’s taste buds.

Making the Crispy Rice Cakes

After perfecting our flavorful filling and steaming the sticky rice dumplings to a translucent finish, we turn our attention to crafting the crispy rice cakes that make Bánh Ít Ram truly unforgettable. This step transforms the dish with a delightful crunch.

Preparing the Batter

For the crispy rice cakes, you’ll need a simple batter that crisps up beautifully when fried. Here’s what we gather:

  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric for color
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • A pinch of salt

Mix the rice flour, cornstarch, turmeric, and salt in a bowl. Gradually add in the water, whisking continuously to ensure there are no lumps. The batter should be smooth and fluid, not too thick or too runny. Adjust with a little more water or flour as needed. Let it rest for about 10 minutes; this allows the flour to fully absorb the water, resulting in a batter that will create a perfectly golden and crispy shell.

Frying the Rice Cakes

Let’s get frying:

  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add a thin layer of vegetable oil, enough to cover the bottom.
  2. Once the oil is hot, spoon a small ladle of the batter into the pan. Tilt the pan in a circular motion if you need to spread the batter out more thinly. The key is to create a thin, even layer that will cook through quickly and crisp up evenly.
  3. Fry until the edges start to lightly brown and curl up, which should take about 1-2 minutes. Then, gently flip the rice cake using a spatula to fry the other side, achieving a beautiful golden crispness.
  4. Once both sides are crispy and golden brown, remove the rice cake from the pan and place it on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

To assemble, place a steamed sticky rice dumpling onto each crispy rice cake. The contrast between the soft, chewy dumpling and the crispy, golden rice cake is what makes Bánh Ít Ram so special. Now, we’re ready to serve this delightful dish, ensuring each bite delivers an unforgettable crunch.

Assembling Bánh Ít Ram

Now that we have our flavorful filling and both the sticky rice dumplings and crispy rice cakes ready, it’s time to assemble Bánh Ít Ram. This final step marries the textures and flavors into a delightful culinary experience.

Attaching Dumplings to Rice Cakes

To begin, make sure your sticky rice dumplings and crispy rice cakes have cooled just enough to handle. Place a crispy rice cake on a clean surface or a serving plate. Carefully pick up a sticky rice dumpling and gently press it onto the center of the rice cake. The slight warmth will help the dumpling adhere to the cake. Repeat this process until all of your rice cakes have their companion dumplings securely attached. This step not only combines the contrasting textures but also ensures each bite includes the harmonious blend of crunch and chewiness.

Drizzling Scallion Oil and Garnishing

The final flourish involves drizzling the dumplings with scallion oil. To make the scallion oil, simply heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan, add finely chopped scallions, and cook them until they’re softened but still vibrant green. Let this mixture cool slightly, then carefully spoon it over the assembled Bánh Ít Ram, making sure each dumpling gets a generous drizzle. This not only adds a layer of aromatic flavor but also a beautiful pop of color.

For garnishing, sprinkle a pinch of fried shallots over each dumpling for an extra crunch and a touch of umami. If you like, a few sprigs of fresh cilantro or a sprinkle of ground pepper can add another layer of flavor and make your Bánh Ít Ram visually appealing. The contrast of the crispy cake against the soft, sticky dumpling, all enhanced with the scallion oil and garnishes, creates a symphony of textures and flavors that’s hard to resist.

Serving Suggestions

After assembling the Bánh Ít Ram with its delightful combination of textures from the crispy cakes to the chewy dumplings, topped with scallion oil and an array of garnishes, it’s time to move on to serving this exquisite dish. Sharing how to best present and enjoy Bánh Ít Ram ensures that every bite is as satisfying as intended. Let’s explore some serving suggestions to make your culinary experience even more memorable.

On a Platter Family Style

We love serving Bánh Ít Ram family-style on a large platter, allowing everyone to dig in and enjoy this communal experience. Arrange the assembled Bánh Ít Ram neatly on the platter, ensuring the scallion oil and garnishes are evenly distributed across all the dumplings. This not only makes for an inviting presentation but also ensures each dumpling is equally flavorful.


To balance the richness of the dish, serve Bánh Ít Ram with a side of fresh vegetables. Think slices of cucumber, pickled carrots, and daikon radish for a refreshing crunch. These sides introduce a crisp texture and tangy flavor that complement the savory, umami-packed Bánh Ít Ram perfectly.

Dipping Sauces

While Bánh Ít Ram is flavorful on its own, offering a variety of dipping sauces can elevate the experience. A classic Vietnamese fish sauce dip, known as Nuoc Cham, is our top pick. Its combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors works wonders with the dish. For those who prefer a less fishy taste, a simple soy sauce mixture with a hint of lime and chili can also be a fantastic option.

Beverage Pairings

To complete the meal, consider pairing Bánh Ít Ram with a beverage that can cleanse the palate and refresh the senses. A cold glass of jasmine tea or a light beer complements the dish’s rich flavors without overpowering them. For a non-alcoholic option, a sparkling water with a squeeze of lime offers a refreshing finish.


We’ve walked through the delightful journey of making Bánh Ít Ram, from its flavorful filling to the perfect assembly that promises a burst of textures and flavors. Now it’s your turn to bring this Vietnamese delicacy into your kitchen. Remember, the beauty of Bánh Ít Ram isn’t just in its taste but also in how it brings people together. So gather your friends and family, dive into the cooking process, and get ready to enjoy a meal that’s as joyous to make as it is to eat. With our serving suggestions, you’re sure to impress and provide a memorable dining experience. Here’s to a dish that’s as fun to prepare as it is to share!

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