Cơm Tấm (Vietnamese Broken Rice)

Broken Rice/Cơm Tấm is the ultimate comfort food and what I default to making at home during the week when I want a comforting Vietnamese meal. It’s called broken rice and is a beautiful leftovers dish because traditionally, old/broken rice grains were used to make the rice component. This dish is served with an array of bits and pieces you’d have at home to turn it into a meal: a grilled protein (normally a marinated pork chop),  sliced cucumber or tomato, pickled carrots and daikon, a fried egg and in other instances, a Vietnamese meatloaf and this delicious pork floss which takes a bit of time to prepare. If you order this dish at a restaurant you will also usually be served a clear soup to have alongside it. In my version that I make at home, I’ve kept it simple with elements you can make in advance so you can whip up this dish at a moment’s notice. You can make a batch of Vietnamese Dipping Sauce and pickled vegetables to keep in your fridge on standby and you can also pre-marinate the pork chops and freeze portions that you can simply defrost and cook when you want. The fried egg, cucumber and spring onion oil are components that you can also quickly prepare in the assembly process or as your rice cooks. 

Finally on rice, as I mentioned, traditionally broken rice is used which is harder to source and doesn’t necessarily taste as good as jasmine rice. To keep it simple I just cook jasmine rice as my per usual process. But if you like the broken rice aesthetic of little tiny grains, you can place them into your food processor and break the grains before cooking.

Ingredients

  • 6 thinly cut pork chops approx. (1.5-2cm thick). If the chops are thicker than this they may not cook through properly. You can ask your butcher to cut these in half for you too which is what I did
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups of jasmine rice
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced
  • Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Spring Onion Oil

  • 3 stalks of spring onions, finely sliced
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Pickled vegetables

  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small daikon, peeled and julienned
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ cup of warm water

Pork Marinade

  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, outer leaves peeled
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 generous pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 spring onion white end
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of five spice powder

Optional

  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda. Optional but it tenderises the meat.
  • 1 tablespoon of vodka, infused with five spice, cloves and cinnamon. If you have this leftover from my crispy pork belly recipe then you can add a bit to this which makes the meat fragrant

Watch the process

 

 

Method

  1. Make the marinade for your pork chops first by cutting 1 stalk of lemongrass into large chunks and placing into a food processor, blitzing until fine. Make sure to slice off the very bottom of the stalk, and peel off any dried-out layers before blitzing. Then add in the rest of the marinade ingredients  (3 garlic cloves, pinch of pepper, 1 tablespoon of honey, 3 ends of the spring onion (just the white part, not the green stalks) 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of five spice power) and blitz until you get a chunky paste.
  2. Pour the marinade over your pork and massage into each pork chop. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight. I’ve also done this for 6 chops with the intention to freeze some of the already pre-marinated pork chops for dinner down the track.
  3. Prepare your pickled vegetables by mixing ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of warm water together in a bowl or jar until dissolved and then add in ½ cup vinegar. Then place the julienned carrot and daikon into the mixture to pickle. You can serve these after soaking in the pickling liquid after 30 minutes or so but you can also keep these in a jar in the fridge for a few weeks to add to different meals.
  4. Cook your rice in a rice cooker or via the absorption method that I use Here. If you want the aesthetic of broken rice, you can place them into your food processor and break the grains before cooking, but you can also simply skip this step as it doesn’t really change the taste.
  5. Brush your pork chops with some oil before cooking until golden and crispy. You can grill them in the oven at 200 degrees celsius fan forced for 30 minutes or until golden. Otherwise you can also air fry them for about 15 minutes or barbeque them for about the same amount of time.
  6. Prepare your spring onion oil by placing 3 stalks of finely chopped spring onions, salt and 2-3 tablespoons of oil into a bowl and heating in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the onions have softened and are fragrant. You can also heat this in a small pot on the stove if you don’t have a microwave.
  7. Finally, fry an egg sunny side up in a pan with some oil for a few minutes until crispy on the edges and bottom but still with a runny yolk.
  8. To assemble everything, pack and fill your steamed rice into a small bowl, before inverting onto a plate to create a perfect mound. Then take your pork chop and cut into the chop to the bone to make it easier to cut the meat later. (Traditionally, you’ll see this dish eaten with forks and spoons so you need the pork cut into bits that can be cut easily with a spoon). Place your fried egg next to the pork chop, layer a handful of sliced cucumbers around the rice as well as a spoonful of the pickled vegetables. Then spoon over the spring onion oil onto the rice as well as a few ladles of Vietnamese dipping sauce (Nước chấm).
  9. Serve immediately and eat with a fork and spoon.

 

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