As the Lunar New Year (Tet) nears, residents in Ward 6 of Yen Dinh Town, Hai Hau District in the northern province of Nam Dinh are hurrying to complete hundreds of longan cake batches from morning till midnight.

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The cake has been a trademark of Hai Hau for centuries.

As early as the tenth lunar month, the whole ward is blanketed with the savoury fragrance of glutinous rice.

Nobody knows exactly who the forefather of this specialty is or when it was created, but the trade has been inherited through generations.

Named for its resemblance to longan fruit, the recipe for the round small cake the size of a longan is simple, but its flavour is outstanding and unforgettable. The cake is made from ground glutinous rice mixed with beaten egg, fine sugar and black sesame. This mixture is then rolled into longan-like balls, then fried in hot lard to give the exterior its yellowish hue.

Longan cake is made across Nam Dinh, but the Hai Hau cakes are known for their extraordinary taste and flavour from their unique rice powder.

Only the local glutinous rice strain, famous throughout Vietnam for its distinctive flavour, is used to make the cake.

According to local resident Nguyen Van Thang, his ward has more than 200 households, 30 of which are participating in the cake-making trade. The ward was rewarded as traditional trade village in 2012.

Over six tonnes of longan cake are delivered across the nation every day, especially to northern provinces and cities.

The longan cake is popular for not only its unique shape, eye-catching appearance and reasonable price, but also the countryside glutinous rice fragrance it contains.

Maintaining and developing the traditional trade holds a deep cultural meaning for local residents.

VNA