Com Tam, a beloved Vietnamese dish, features broken rice served with grilled pork, shredded pork skin, steamed egg meatloaf, and a fish sauce-based dipping sauce. With its unique combination of textures and flavors, Com Tam has become a favorite not only in Vietnam but also in Vietnamese communities around the world.
This article explores the history and origins of Com Tam, the different ingredients used in the dish, and how to make it at home. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply looking to try something new, Com Tam is a dish that’s not to be missed.
What is broken rice Vietnamese?
“What is broken rice“, broken rice is a staple ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine and is the heart of the beloved dish, Com Tam. So, are you wondering, “What is crushed rice?” Crushed rice also is a type of rice that has been milled and processed to create small, irregularly-shaped pieces that are smaller than traditional grains of rice. It is also known as “broken rice” or “rice fragments.”
What is broken rice used for? As the name suggests, broken rice refers to grains of rice that have broken during the milling process. This type of rice was once considered inferior and used primarily for animal feed. However, over time, Vietnamese farmers and cooks found creative ways to incorporate broken rice into their meals. Com Tam is one such example.
Com Tam originated in Southern Vietnam in the early 1900s, when broken rice became more widely available and affordable. Today, it is a popular street food and restaurant dish throughout Vietnam and beyond. Its popularity can be attributed to the unique combination of flavors and textures that it offers, as well as its affordability and accessibility.
Com Tam has also become deeply ingrained in Vietnamese culture, appearing in everything from historical texts and traditions to modern society and pop culture. It represents the resilience and resourcefulness of the Vietnamese people, as well as their love of delicious and hearty meals. Com Tam is a dish that embodies the rich history and culture of Vietnam and continues to captivate food lovers around the world.
If you’re curious about Kanki rice, it’s the term used in Gujarati for Broken Rice. “Kan” means small or minute, and “Kanki” refers to the small grains of rice.
In addition, there will be two types of broken rice that you can use:
Broken Jasmine rice
Broken jasmine rice refers to grains of jasmine rice that have been broken during the milling process. Jasmine rice is a fragrant and long-grain variety of rice that is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Thailand. Similar to broken rice, broken jasmine rice is often considered lower quality than whole grains and is sold at a lower price point.
However, it can still be used in a variety of dishes. It is important to note that broken jasmine rice may have a slightly different texture and flavor than whole grains, but it can still be a delicious and affordable option for home cooking.
Broken Basmati rice
Broken basmati rice refers to grains of basmati rice that have been broken into smaller pieces during the milling process. Basmati rice is a long-grain variety of rice that is known for its fragrant aroma and nutty flavor.
During the milling process, the outer layers of the rice grain are removed to create the polished, white rice that is commonly found in stores. Broken basmati rice is created when the grains are broken into smaller pieces during this process.
While broken basmati rice may not be as visually appealing as whole grains, it can still be used in a variety of dishes, including pilafs, biryanis, and stir-fries. It is important to note that the texture and cooking time of broken basmati rice may differ from whole grains, so it is recommended to adjust cooking times accordingly.
Why do Vietnamese eat broken rice?
Broken rice is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, particularly in the Southern region of the country. There are a few reasons why Vietnamese people traditionally eat broken rice:
- Affordability: Broken rice is often less expensive than whole grains of rice, making it a more affordable option for many people.
- Availability: In the past, broken rice was considered lower quality than whole grains and was primarily used for animal feed. However, Vietnamese farmers and cooks found creative ways to incorporate broken rice into their meals, and it eventually became a staple in the country’s cuisine.
- Texture and flavor: Broken rice has a different texture and flavor than whole grains, with a slightly chewy texture and nutty flavor. This unique combination of textures and flavors is particularly appealing to Vietnamese palates.
- Tradition: In Vietnam, broken rice is commonly used in many traditional dishes, including Com Tam, which is a beloved street food and restaurant dish throughout the country.
Broken rice has become deeply ingrained in Vietnamese culture and cuisine, and continues to be a staple ingredient in many dishes.
How to cook com tam?
Broken rice cooks faster than regular rice, so keep an eye on it to avoid overcooking.
- Yield: 4 servings
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Course: Main Course
- Cuisine: Vietnamese
- Equipment: Grill or grill pan, rice cooker, or pot
- 2 cups broken rice
- 2-3 grilled pork chops (suon)
- 1/2 cup shredded pork skin (bì)
- 2-3 eggs fry
- 2-3 slices of steamed egg meatloaf (cha trung)
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallions (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fried shallots (optional)
Related: How Much Rice Per Person? Understanding Rice Serving Sizes
For Bi (Pigskin)
- 1 pound pork skin
- 1 pound pork shoulder
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 cup shredded daikon
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For Cha Trung (Steam Eggroll Meat Loaf)
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup ground pork
- 1/4 cup minced wood ear mushrooms
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
How to make Vietnamese broken rice?
To make Vietnamese standard broken rice, you need to follow the following steps
Step 1: Cook the Vietnamese broken rice
- Rinse 2 cups of broken rice in cold water until the water runs clear.
- In a rice cooker, combine the rice, 2 and 1/2 cups of water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Cook the rice according to the rice cooker’s instructions, or until the rice is fully cooked and fluffy.
Step 2: Grill pork chop
- Prepare your choice of meat, such as pork chops, chicken, or beef.
- Marinate the meat in a mixture of garlic, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Grill the meat on a grill pan or outdoor grill until cooked through and charred in spots.
Step 3: To make pigskin
- Start with fresh pigskin, which can be purchased from a butcher or specialty meat shop.
- Rinse the pigskin thoroughly and cut it into small pieces.
- Blanch the pigskin in boiling water for 10–15 minutes to remove excess fat and impurities.
- Drain the pigskin and rinse it again in cold water.
- In a pot, bring water to a boil and add the blanched pigskin.
- Simmer for 1–2 hours until the pigskin is soft and tender.
- Drain the pigskin and let it cool before slicing it into thin strips.
Step 5: To make steamed egg meatloaf (cha)
- In a mixing bowl, beat 4–5 eggs with a pinch of salt and sugar.
- Add ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms, minced shallots, and minced garlic to the egg mixture.
- Mix well until all the ingredients are combined.
- Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and cover it with foil.
- Steam the meatloaf for 30–40 minutes until it’s cooked through.
- Remove the foil and let the meatloaf cool before slicing it into thin pieces.
Step 6: Make Pickled Vegetables
- Combine 1/2 cup of julienned carrots and 1/2 cup of julienned daikon in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/4 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Pour the mixture over the vegetables and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Step 7: Make the Dipping Sauce
- In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of fish sauce, 1/4 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and 1 minced garlic clove.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Step 6: Assemble the Dish
- Arrange the cooked broken rice on a plate.
- Top with the grilled meat, and pickled vegetables.
- Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro.
- Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
Common mistakes when making com tam
Making Com Tam is a delicious and satisfying culinary experience, but it can also be challenging to get it just right. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when making Com Tam:
- Overcooking the broken rice: Overcooked broken rice can become mushy and lose its texture, so it is important to follow the cooking instructions carefully and avoid overcooking.
- Under seasoning the pork: The pork in Com Tam should be well-seasoned to add flavor to the dish. Be sure to marinate the pork for at least 30 minutes before cooking and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
- Skipping the pickled vegetables: Pickled vegetables are an important component of Com Tam, adding a tangy and refreshing contrast to the dish. Don’t skip them!
- Using too much fish sauce: While fish sauce is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, it can be easy to overdo it. Use fish sauce sparingly and adjust to your taste.
- Not letting the meat rest: After grilling the meat, it is important to let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures that the meat stays moist and tender.
- Neglecting the dipping sauce: The dipping sauce is a key component of Com Tam, adding a salty and savory flavor to the dish. Be sure to make a flavorful and well-balanced dipping sauce to accompany your Com Tam.
Tips for perfecting your com tam
Making the perfect Com Tam takes practice and attention to detail, but with a few tips and tricks, you can elevate your dish to the next level. Here are some tips for perfecting your Com Tam:
- Use high-quality ingredients: Com Tam is a simple dish that relies on the quality of its ingredients to shine. Use the freshest and best quality ingredients you can find, such as high-quality pork chops, fresh vegetables, and fragrant jasmine rice.
- Marinate the pork overnight: To ensure that the pork is well-seasoned and flavorful, marinate it for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat and create a delicious and tender dish.
- Cook the broken rice perfectly: Broken rice should be cooked until it is tender and fluffy, but not mushy. Follow the cooking instructions carefully and adjust the water and cooking time as needed to achieve the perfect texture.
- Don’t skip the pickled vegetables: Pickled vegetables are an important component of Com Tam, adding a refreshing and tangy flavor to the dish. Don’t skip them!
- Make a flavorful dipping sauce: The dipping sauce is an essential component of Com Tam, providing a salty and savory contrast to the dish. Be sure to make a well-balanced and flavorful dipping sauce to accompany your Com Tam.
- Let the meat rest: After grilling the pork, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures that the meat stays moist and tender.
Table about nutrient facts of com tam
Here is a table outlining the approximate nutrient content of Com Tam per serving (based on a typical recipe):
|Nutrient||Amount Per Serving|
|Total Fat||22 g|
|Saturated Fat||6 g|
|Total Carbohydrate||57 g|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g|
While Com Tam can be a delicious and satisfying meal, Vietnamese broken rice calories are important to note which can be high in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. However, it is also a good source of protein and contains some dietary fiber.
When consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, Com Tam can offer some potential health benefits, such as providing essential nutrients and supporting satiety. However, excessive consumption of Com Tam and other high-calorie, high-sodium dishes may increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and other health issues.
If you are concerned about the nutrient content of Com Tam, consider making modifications to the recipe to reduce the calorie and sodium content, such as using leaner cuts of meat, reducing the amount of added sugar and salt, and incorporating more vegetables. As with any dish, it is important to enjoy Com Tam in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
What to serve with com tam?
Com Tam is typically served with a variety of side dishes that complement the flavors and textures of the dish. Here are some common side dishes that are often served with Com Tam:
- Bi (Shredded Pork Skin): This delicacy is made from shredded pork skin that is seasoned and cooked until tender. It adds a slightly crunchy and savory texture to Com Tam.
- Cha Trung (Steamed Egg Meatloaf): Similar to Cha, Cha Trang is a steamed egg quiche that is often served sliced as a side dish with Com Tam.Cha is a type of steamed egg meatloaf that is often sliced and served alongside Com Tam. It has a slightly sweet and savory flavor and a soft, custard-like texture.
- Nem Nuong (Grilled Pork Sausage): These small grilled pork sausages are a flavorful and juicy addition to Com Tam.
- Tau Hu Ky (Fried Tofu Skin): Tau Hu Ky is a type of fried tofu skin that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It adds a crunchy texture and mild flavor to Com Tam.
Incorporating these side dishes, you can create a complete and satisfying meal that showcases the flavors and textures of Com Tam.
How to eat com tam?
To eat com tam, you can follow these steps:
- Start by mixing the rice with the toppings to distribute the flavors evenly.
- Drizzle a little dipping sauce on top
- Use a spoon to pick up a small amount of rice and toppings.
- Enjoy the flavorful combination of rice and toppings in each bite.
- Repeat until satisfied.
How to store com tam?
Here are some tips on how to store Com Tam and its individual components:
- Broken Rice: Store leftover broken rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Make sure to reheat it thoroughly before serving.
- Grilled Pork Chop: Store leftover grilled pork chop in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat it in a frying pan or in the oven before serving.
- Nuoc Cham (Sauce): Store leftover nuoc cham in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Make sure to stir it well before using it again.
- Cha Trung: Store leftover cha trung in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat it in a steamer or in the microwave before serving. Steam the meatloaf for 5-7 minutes in the steaming basket or until it’s heated through.
How to reheat com tam?
Microwave: To reheat Com tam in the microwave, place the rice and toppings in a microwave-safe container and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until heated through, stirring halfway through.
- To reheat com tam and its toppings on a stove top, place them in a non-stick pan over medium heat and add a splash of water. Cover the pan with a lid and heat for 3-5 minutes or until heated through.
- For grilled pork, shredded pork skin, and fried egg, you can heat them up in a non-stick pan over medium heat until they are heated through and slightly crispy.
Cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, and sliced tomato are typically served cold and do not need to be reheated.
Variations of com tam
Com Tam is a popular and versatile dish in Vietnamese cuisine, and there are several regional variations that offer unique flavors and ingredients. Here are three variations of Com Tam based on regional differences:
- Com Tam Chay: This vegetarian version of Com Tam features tofu, soy protein, or mushroom as the main protein source, and is often served with stir-fried vegetables, fried egg (optional), and vegetarian dipping sauce.
- Com Tam Ga: This version features grilled chicken (ga) as the protein.
- Com Tam Bi: This variation is similar to Com Tam Bi Cha Thit Nuong, but without the grilled pork chops.
- Com Tam Suon Bi: This version includes both the grilled pork chops and the shredded pork skin
Many variations of Com Tam are served with a side of canh, or Vietnamese soup. Some popular canh dishes served with Com Tam include canh rong bien (seaweed soup), canh chua (sour soup with fish), and canh kho qua (bitter melon soup).
What is the famous com tam brand in Vietnam?
There are several famous Com Tam brands in Vietnam that are known for their delicious and authentic dishes. Some of the most well-known brands include:
- Com Tam Cali: This popular restaurant chain has multiple locations throughout Vietnam, and is known for their flavorful grilled pork chops and extensive menu of Com Tam variations.
- Com Tam Thuan Kieu: It is known for their delicious and affordable Com Tam dishes, as well as their flavorful dipping sauce.
- Com Tam Ba Ghien: Com Tam for over 50 years, and is known for their classic Com Tam dishes and unique dipping sauce.
- Com Tam Nguyen Van Cu: This street-side stall in Ho Chi Minh City is known for their delicious and affordable Com Tam dishes, as well as their friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Where to find com tam in the US?
Com Tam is a popular and beloved dish in Vietnam, and there are many famous Com Tam brands throughout the country. Here are a few of the most well-known:
- Com Tam Thien Huong: This restaurant chain has locations in California and Texas, and is known for their flavorful grilled meats and generous portions.
Address: 1759 E Capitol Expy, San Jose, CA
- Com Tam Kieu: This restaurant has locations in California and specializes in Southern Vietnamese-style broken rice dishes.
Address: 633 S San Gabriel Blvd #112, San Gabriel, CA
- Com Tam Ninh Kieu: This restaurant chain has locations in California and is known for their grilled meats and traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Address: 8748 E Valley Blvd Ste A Rosemead, CA
- Com Tam Dat Thanh: This restaurant chain has locations in California and is known for their generous portions and flavorful grilled meats.
Address: 1055 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA
How to pronounce com tam?
Com Tam is pronounced as “kohm tahm” in English. The first syllable “com” is pronounced with a short “o” sound, similar to the word “lot”, and the second syllable “tam” is pronounced with a short “a” sound, similar to the word “ham”.
Can com tam be made with vegetarian or vegan protein sources?
Yes, Com Tam can be made with vegetarian or vegan protein sources. Traditionally, Com Tam is made with grilled pork chops, but you can easily substitute this with tofu, tempeh, or other plant-based protein sources.
You can also use soy protein or seitan as a meat substitute. Another option is to use marinated and grilled portobello mushrooms as a meaty and flavorful alternative. With these vegetarian and vegan options, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors and textures of Com Tam while meeting your dietary preferences or restrictions.
Can com tam be made gluten-free?
Yes, Com Tam can be made gluten-free. To make Com Tam gluten-free, you need to use gluten-free soy sauce and ensure that all other ingredients you use are also gluten-free. Additionally, you should avoid using any sauces or seasonings that contain wheat or gluten.
How is com tam typically seasoned?
Com Tam is typically seasoned with a combination of sweet, salty, sour, and savory flavors. The traditional seasoning for Com Tam includes fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers, which are used to make the dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham). Other common seasonings include salt, pepper, and soy sauce.
Some recipes may also call for additional herbs and spices, such as lemongrass or ginger, to add extra depth of flavor. The seasoning for Com Tam can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences, so feel free to experiment with different combinations of seasonings to create your perfect dish.
Can com tam be made in advance?
Yes, Com Tam can be made in advance, although it is best to store the different components separately until you are ready to assemble and serve the dish. You can cook the rice and the meat ahead of time, and store them in the refrigerator in separate containers. The pickled vegetables and Nuoc Cham can also be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. When you are ready to serve the dish, simply reheat the rice and meat, and assemble the dish with the pickled vegetables and Nuoc Cham.
How can I make com tam more flavorful?
To make Com Tam more flavorful, you can try the following tips:
- Marinate the meat: Marinate the meat in a flavorful marinade before grilling it. A marinade made with soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and sugar can add extra flavor and tenderness to the meat.
- Season the rice: Season the rice with some salt and butter or oil to add flavor and prevent the grains from sticking together.
- Use flavorful toppings: Top the Com Tam with flavorful ingredients, such as crispy fried shallots, chopped scallions and cilantro, or sliced chili peppers, to add extra texture and flavor.
- Add umami-rich ingredients: Umami-rich ingredients such as mushrooms or soy sauce can add an extra layer of savory flavor to the dish.
- Experiment with different seasonings: Try experimenting with different seasonings and sauces to find the combination that suits your taste preferences. You can try adding extra garlic, ginger, lemongrass, or other herbs and spices to the dish for more depth of flavor.
Is com tam typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Com Tam can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In Vietnam, it is often served as a hearty and filling breakfast dish, although it is also popular for lunch or dinner.
What are some common beverages that are served with com tam?
There are several beverages that are commonly served with Com Tam, including:
- Iced tea: A refreshing and cooling drink that pairs well with the savory flavors of Com Tam.
- Beer: A cold beer can be a popular accompaniment to Com Tam, especially when enjoyed in the evening.
- Soda: Sweet and carbonated sodas can provide a contrast to the savory and salty flavors of Com Tam.
- Vietnamese coffee: Strong and sweet Vietnamese coffee can provide a jolt of caffeine and a deliciously creamy and sweet flavor to complement the dish.
- Fresh fruit juice: A glass of fresh fruit juice, such as mango or pineapple juice, can provide a sweet and fruity contrast to the savory and salty flavors of Com Tam.
- Coconut water: Refreshing and hydrating coconut water can provide a light and tropical flavor to complement the dish.
These are just a few examples of beverages that can be enjoyed with Com Tam. Choose your favorite drink to enjoy with this delicious and hearty dish.
Can I make com tam with different types of rice?
While broken rice is traditionally used for Com Tam, you can make the dish with different types of rice, such as jasmine rice or basmati rice. However, it is important to note that using a different type of rice will result in a different texture and flavor for the dish.
Is com tam popular street food in Vietnam?
Com Tam is popular street food in Vietnam, especially in the Southern region of the country. It is often sold by street vendors and small eateries and is known for being a delicious and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed on the go. The dish is also commonly found in Vietnamese restaurants and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
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All things considered, Com Tam is more than just a dish – it represents the heart and soul of Vietnamese cuisine. From its humble origins to its widespread popularity, Com Tam has become a beloved staple in Vietnam and beyond.
Whether enjoyed at a street-side stall or recreated at home, Com Tam offers a tantalizing combination of flavors and textures that is sure to satisfy any food lover. By mastering the art of making Com Tam, we can not only indulge in a delicious meal but also celebrate and appreciate the rich history and culture behind this beloved dish.