"Com Lam" known as Bamboo-tube rice - a special local Thai dish

Footprint just organized an “Ethnic village Discovery” Challenge camp this summer for students from 11 to 16 years old in Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The camp was absolutely successful with knowledge enriching, cultural exchange, exciting activities, and the most interesting activity was the “Com Lam” cooking class which was very enjoyable for our campers, we will include this activity into our tour packages for our travelers.

Com Lam is sticky rice cooked over fire in a bamboo-tube section. It is a very simple dish with typical flavors of the Northwestern mountain areas in Vietnam, this traditional food originated when the mountainous people would prepare their food for their long journeys into the woods for a day or even more than two days. The combination between the fragrance of glutinous rice and the aroma of bamboo creates an attractive aftertaste that will be forever associated with Pu Luong. Not only served as a picnic food, but this is also served in their daily meals. 

The way to make bamboo-tube rice is even more exciting than its amazing taste, and our home-host had shown our campers how to cook their own Com Lam in the authentic way of Thai people.

In the morning, our local guide led campers for a trek to the jungle to collect necessary stuff for the class, to prepare for cooking, we need firewood, bamboo tubes, and banana leaves which can be collected by hand. The bamboo chosen should be fresh and young so that the new membrane inside the tube can wrap the rice, adding it a special flavor, fragrance and sweetness.

The local guide - our host was showing us how to soak rice in water several times, rinse the rice into water for 30 minutes then add some salt. Bamboo tubes and banana leaves need to be cleaned by water to wrap the rice. Baking something in a bamboo tube sounds fun and interesting, but as a newbie cook, campers need a little help from the host even with such a simple cooking step.

To prepare the rice, first take leaves or braised banana leaves to cover inside the tube. 

And then fill the tube with about 80% of rice and 10 % of water inside, in favor of water inherent in bamboo.

The next step is to add a little coconut water to make the rice more pleasant.

When the tubes are ready, it is essential to burn the charcoal fire steadily until it smells pleasant. The fire should not be too big, often this process takes about an hour.

When it is done, we skillfully remove the outer layers of bamboo until there is only one thin layer of bamboo covering the cooked rice.

Sniffing the blending fragrance of fresh bamboo, banana leaves, and sticky rice as well as experiencing the sweet flavor of rice, bamboo, and coconut, and the greasy saltiness of sesame. The softness and freshness of rice roasted in fragrant bamboo will keep for 10 hours or more, and it's tasty served hot or cold. This cooking method preserves the nutrients and aroma of the rice because the ends of the tube are closed during the cooking. 

Although our campers had to wait for quite a long time for the rice to be cooked, the results are extremely worthwhile. In addition, as the tube is covered with banana leaves, rice is also blended with more attractive aromas. 

 A “Com Lam” cooking activity also can be arranged for those who expect to try local cuisine in an authentic way and enjoy the real meal in the regional commune. The total time for preparing and cooking process might take 5 to 6 hours approximately, and all travelers and even children will have memorable experiences when they achieve their final products - the tasty Com Lam which was made by themself. The traditional flavor of Pu Luong will be instilled inside the traveler's mind.