“Com dep”, flat glutinous green rice is a specialty of the Khmer in Soc Trang and people in the Mekong River Delta.
“Com dep” is a popular dish and an indispensible offering in important religious rituals to pray to genies for favorable weather and bumper crops.
Moon worshipping is an important rite in the Ok Oom Bok festival organized on the full-moon day of the 10th lunar month. At night when the moon looks brightest, people begin the ceremony in pagodas, their houses or communal yards.
The masters of ceremony are senior and prestigious people in the village. All people look toward the moon and pray.
After the ritual, the master of ceremony gives the children a handful of flat glutinous green rice and asks about their wishes for the next year. Finally, they gather to enjoy fruits and flat glutinous green rice, dance, sing, and wish each other a bumper crop.
Tran Van Nam, a Khmer in Soc Trang, said, “Prior to the full-moon day, all households prepare flat glutinous green rice. All family members gather in the yard to worship the moon and eat the flat glutinous green rice. They honor the moon for blessing them with a bumper crop.”
The Khmer believe that they owe the Jade Emperor and Buddha for giving them rice, which is the main material to make delicious dishes.
Lam Thi En, a villager, noted, “Rich and poor Khmer families make Com to worship the Moon. We uphold our ancestor’s traditions and rituals.”
At the Ok Oom Bok festival, flat glutinous green rice is sold abundantly for visitors. Sellers also show guests how to make different dishes from young sticky.
The harvest time of young rice to make “com” is when the grains look yellowish and taste as sweet as milk. Young rice is processed immediately after being harvested. It needs 4 people to work together to winnow, roast, stir, and pound the young rice.
Freshly processed Com has the typical aroma of young rice. The Khmer people often blend it with coconut flakes, coconut juice, and white sugar in about 15 minutes to make its texture softer. People keep Com’s flavor by wrapping it in lotus or banana leaves.
The annual Ok Oom Bok festival is a chance for visitors to learn something about the Khmer culture and its cuisine.