Dì Na’s Precious Lotus Rice

Perhaps lotus is the only flower which could bring serenity and purity to my heart. It even cultivates in me a habit of waiting for summer every single year because this season comes with pretty lotus blossoms and tasty delicacies made from different parts of lotus.

My neighbor, dì Na, cooks lotus rice every summer when lotus seeds are at their best. This delicacy is a beautiful combination of rice and eight other ingredients, which is why, in Vietnamese language, it is named “cơm bát bửu” after the Eight Auspicious Signs in Buddhism or Hinduism. The way dì Na prepares this dish looks like a goldsmith meticulously working on a piece of jewelry, which inspires me to call it “precious lotus rice” in English.

Huế people’s culinary skills are amazing. They obviously put this dish to a whole new level when wrapping the rice in lotus leaves. The package is then steamed for a few minutes so that the mixed rice inside could slowly absorb the fragrance from the lotus leaf. The wrapper keeps the precious lotus rice warm longer and the whole package looks like a delicate tureen which is filled with the essence of Nature. When the top of the package is cleverly carved out, it reveals an exquisite flavor combination and the talent of its creator.

I can’t help but think that if rice is our staple and lotus is our unofficial national flower, this precious lotus rice should be considered one of Vietnam’s iconic delicacies. Don’t you agree with me?