Interesting question posed by Larry Lee over on eGullet,
I could use some help identifying this dish we had in Hue, Vietnam. It
is a small ball of rice cake served on what I believe was a crisped
"cracker" of rice, with tiny bits of dried shrimp sprinkled on top.
This was served as part of a multi-course breakfast that included bánh
bèo and bánh bột lọc.
UPDATE: In the comments Wandering Chopsticks tells us it’s banh it ram. Epicurious Wanderer has some more pictures. Professor Salt finds the dish in California. And Andrea adds her always useful tuppence over on eGullet,
Banh ram is a central Vietnamese specialty that’s an acquired taste.
The dough is made from glutinous (sticky/sweet) rice and filled a bit
of seasoned pork, onion, etc.
Northerners prepare banh it and
steam it on banana leaves so that you can pick it up and eat it easily
without it sticking to the plate. Central cooks are creative and so
they like to put their banh it on the rice cracker for a contrasting
texture. It’s handy in that the cracker acts like the banana leaf in
the northern version — as a nonstick surface so the cake doesn’t stick
to your plate.