red festival rice (xôi gấc)

Red baby jackfruit rice, or xôi gấc, is a festive dish served to celebrate Tết, the Vietnamese New Year. Its bright red color is considered auspicious and invites a blessed year of many fortunes. The striking color comes from an unusual fruit called gấc. It is actually not closely related to jackfruit, though its appearance resembles a small red-orange jackfruit with deep red fruit pods. Even the name “gấc” is pronounced like the “jack” in jackfruit, so it can be quite confusing.

To make the rice, remove the red fruit pods from the gấc and separate the pulp from the seeds. The seeds have a unique flat star shape and, though inedible, are often displayed on top of the rice to prove authenticity. Mix the pulp with rice and steam, then top with sesame-peanut powder and coconut.


(serves 2)

2 tbsp sesame seed
1 tbsp peanut, roasted
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 cup glutinous rice, soaked overnight
1 red baby jackfruit(gấc) pulp
1/2 tsp salt

• pound sesame seed, peanut, 1 tbsp palm sugar
• combine rice, jackfruit pulp, salt, 1 tbsp palm sugar
• spread in ring shape in steamer
• steam 20 minutes
• flip
• steam 10 more minutes
• garnish with sesame powder, shredded coconut
• serve