Cơm Tấm, superb fusion of Vietnamese culinary

3 years ago 6875

“Cơm tấm” or Broken Rice is a specialty of the Southern Vietnam and Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City) is the most well-known “home” for this dish. In Vietnamese, “tấm” refers to the broken rice from the top parts of grains during the milling process while “cơm” refers to cooked rice.

In the old days, broken rice used to be considered as an off-grade product; therefore, it was also a favorite choice of the poor due to cheap price. But actually, because broken rice consists of germ and bran so cooked broken rice is more nutritious and even tastes better.

Today, from a normal meal of the commoners, “Cơm tấm” has become a famous dish thanks to the great and sophisticated combination with variety toppings by Sai Gon people.

"Cơm tấm" or Vietnamese Broken Rice

The dish usually comes with three main components: cooked broken rice, toppings and sweet mixed fish sauce.  

Toppings can be divided into two types: main serving items such as grilled pork chop (“sườn nướng”), shredded pork skin (“bì”), steamed egg cake (“chả trứng”), sunny-side-up fried egg (“trứng ốp la”), etc; and side serving items such as slices of fresh cucumber and tomato, pickles (“đồ chua”), and sauté green onions with crispy pork fat (“mỡ hành tóp mỡ”).  

Vietnamese daikon and carrot pickles

Sauté green onions with crispy pork fat

Number of main serving items will decide the price. Eaters can pick as many as they want to and order extra cooked rice to finish all ordered items. The proper way to enjoy the dish is pouring a little of sweet mixed fish sauce into the broken rice to add more charming. You can adjust its amount due to your own taste. Sai Gon people have “Cơm tấm” with spoons and folks. But in the Northern and the Central, the shop will also provide chopsticks.

 One of most favourite combo served with grilled pork chop and shredded pork skin ("Cơm tấm sườn-bì")

Adding steamed egg cake

At the beginning, broken rice was only sold as breakfast, but due to rising demand of customers, now, broken rice is available the whole day. Shops also provide take-away service for busy customers. In Sai Gon, number of night broken rice shops (“Cơm tấm đêm”) is increasing rapidly with more diverse toppings. 

Another famous version of "Cơm tấm" is from Long Xuyen City. Main serving items of the mixed combo includes grilled pork chop, stewed egg and shredded pork skin. The big pork chop is cut into long pieces before adding spices then grilling in a charcoal grill. Eggs are hard stewed until turning into attractive color outside and charming flavours inside. If in Sai Gon, grilled pork is served in a big piece chop and stewed egg is cut length into two halves, these serving items of Long Xuyen's style are cut into slices. 


Long pieces of pork on charcoal grill.


Broken rice in Long Xuyen's style ("Cơm tấm Long Xuyên")

Nowaydays, you can easily find Vietnamese Broken Rice in either street food shops or restaurants, throughout Vietnam or even in some foreign countries. So, there is no doubt that "Cơm tấm" would be a great try to discover the superb fusion of Vietnamese culinary.

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