Cơm Tấm (Vietnamese Broken Rice) Recipe

Why It Works

  • Utilizing fatty pork shoulder or pork butt ensures that the meat will not dry out throughout grilling.
  • Soaking the pork pores and skin in heat water removes any residual fats and blood, for a cleaner look and softer texture.
  • Including lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and pickled greens offers a balancing counterpoint to a hearty meal.

For Vietnamese, rice is life! Vietnamese eat rice from breakfast to lunch and dinner, and even dessert, albeit in numerous varieties. Rising up in Vietnam, I don’t bear in mind a single day that my household skipped rice. The phrase for having a meal, ăn cơm, interprets to “consuming rice”—Vietnamese historical past and meals tradition revolve round it. 

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As one of many world’s main rice exporters, Vietnam exported 6.4 million tons of rice in 2021, in accordance with the USDA. However a lot of what Vietnam sends to the remainder of the world are good rice grains, not the damaged rice, or cơm tấm, Vietnamese love a lot. Damaged rice are the grains broken in the course of the drying and milling course of, which, outdoors of Vietnam, are usually thought-about inferior to intact ones. Among the many Vietnamese, nonetheless, the sensation is far completely different and demand for damaged rice is so excessive that some producers will manually break rice grains simply to provide sufficient. Whereas damaged rice by itself tastes no completely different from common complete rice grains, it does have a pair benefits: Because of their smaller dimension, the damaged grains prepare dinner sooner and take in sauces and flavors higher. 

Traditionally, rice farmers within the rural Mekong Delta saved damaged rice each as animal feed and for their very own meals. Damaged rice was initially served with simply two substances: bì (shredded pork pores and skin) and mỡ hành (scallion oil), and was typically stigmatized as peasant meals. As folks from the Mekong Delta moved to Saigon after 1975 for higher job alternatives, they launched damaged rice to town dwellers. Since then, damaged rice has change into certainly one of southern Vietnam’s most iconic meals, obtainable from road carts and sidewalk distributors, and there are even eating places devoted to this well-liked dish.

Rising up in Vietnam, I don’t bear in mind a single day that my household skipped rice.

These days, damaged rice has advanced from its humble beginnings; today you’ll see it dressed with fancier cuts of meat and topped with many scrumptious add-ons. In addition to shredded pork pores and skin, you possibly can select from well-liked choices comparable to grilled pork chop (thịt sườn nướng), grilled pork (thịt nướng), grilled pork paste (nem nướng), grilled rooster (gà nướng), steamed pork-and-egg meatloaf (chả trứng hấp), or a sunny-side-up fried egg. The entire plate is topped with scallion oil, pickled greens, recent lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and a tangy-sweet fish sauce dressing drizzled over the whole lot. Some locations serve a bowl of pork broth to slurp together with the damaged rice.

My favourite mixture is grilled pork, shredded pork, and pork-and-egg meatloaf. Select what your style buds fancy, or go all-out with a particular that features the whole lot on the menu.

The Major Occasion: The way to Prepare dinner Damaged Rice

Utilizing a rice cooker is an virtually foolproof technique of cooking rice to acquire these good fluffy and sticky grains. Earlier than cooking, I wash the surplus starches of the rice with operating water till it’s now not cloudy, which helps stop the grains from excessively sticking to one another as soon as cooked. Then, with a 1:1 ratio of damaged rice to water, I put all of it within the rice cooker and let it work its magic.

If you do not have a rice cooker, you possibly can after all additionally prepare dinner the rice on the stovetop, which this recipe additionally offers directions for.

Part 1: Grilled Pork

For the grilled meat, I like to make use of pork butt, which has extra fats and tends to be juicy after grilling in comparison with leaner cuts just like the loin. Have your butcher slice the meat about 1/8-inch-thick in order that it’s simpler to marinate and grill. The marinade is a straightforward combination of fish sauce, water, sugar, freshly floor pepper, and vegetable oil, together with my favourite aromatics of shallot, scallion, and garlic. Marinate the meat in a single day, or as much as 24 hours, earlier than grilling.

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You will want six to eight 8-inch wood skewers to string the pork, and it is best to soak them in water for half-hour to forestall them from burning throughout grilling.

I wish to prepare dinner the skewers over a two-zone fireplace, by which the grill has burning-hot coals on one aspect however not the opposite. This manner, you possibly can sear the pork first straight over the coals to get some good browning and taste growth, then transfer them to the cooler aspect to complete cooking with out the danger of them burning.

Part 2: Shredded Pork and Pork Pores and skin

What I like about this topping is the textural distinction between the chewy pork pores and skin and crisp-tender meat. Retailer-bought shredded pork pores and skin is made out of pores and skin with the fats eliminated that’s then boiled and sliced tremendous skinny. You may make your personal pork pores and skin, however I choose the comfort of premade choices broadly obtainable at Asian supermarkets. 

The pork pores and skin itself is pleasingly chewy, and it is tossed with pork butt that is been simmered till cooked-through and tender, then crisped in a scorching pan and minimize into matchsticks. Each the sliced pork and pork pores and skin are combined with minced garlic and toasted rice powder (thính), the latter lending an earthy, nutty aroma and pleasing grittiness to the pork and pores and skin.

Part 3: Steamed Pork-and-Egg Meatloaf

Dubbed as “Vietnamese meatloaf,” chả trứng hấp is a humble dish made out of floor pork, cellophane noodles, wooden ear mushrooms, shallot, scallion, fish sauce, sugar, and freshly floor pepper. Different proteins that work nice with this recipe embrace floor rooster, shrimp, and crabmeat. Soak each the cellophane noodles and wooden ear mushrooms in heat water for quarter-hour to rehydrate earlier than incorporating them with the opposite substances. 

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South Vietnamese steam the combination, whereas north Vietnamese pan-fry it. Baking it or cooking it in a stress cooker are different choices. If you don’t personal a devoted steamer, fill a big pot with about 2 inches of water, put a wire rack inside with the loaf pan rested on prime, cowl with a vented lid, and proceed with steaming. The entire combination is suspended in overwhelmed egg whites, steamed for 25 minutes, topped with overwhelmed egg yolks, and steamed for one more 5 minutes, leading to two stunning, distinctive layers.

Assembling and Consuming

Serving the damaged rice and toppings goes one thing like this: fill small bowls with the cooked damaged rice, then invert the rice onto a plate. It ought to maintain a domed form as soon as the bowl is eliminated. Subsequent to the rice dome you possibly can assemble the toppings. The grilled pork ought to nonetheless be heat, the meatloaf is nice simply barely heat, and shredded pork combination may be room temperature or barely heat. 

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Then drizzle the scallion oil over the rice, the grilled pork, and the shredded pork. Add a couple of items of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber subsequent to the meat, and serve it with the dipping sauce and pickled greens on the aspect.

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