Updated: Jul 14, 2018
Origin - Vietnam
Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng is one of the many signature dishes of Saigon. It is made from broken rice topped with grilled pork chop, egg meatloaf, and pickled vegetables. The grilled pork chop is marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and lemon grass which is perfect when paired with the broken rice; soaked with fish sauce. The pickled vegetables on the side is a great palate cleanser between each bite of the meal to enjoy the flavor of the pork and rice as if it were your first. The hidden gem of the plate is the egg meatloaf which is soft and moist. Last but not least, you cannot forget the fried pork skin and scallion oil which are the key ingredients to tie the whole dish together.
Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng is also known as just, Cơm Tấm
Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng is served with a fork and a spoon instead of chopsticks because the French were considered upper class, their style was adapted as a trend among the working class in Vietnam.
Although the direct translation of Cơm Tấm is “broken rice”, due to the popularity of it being served with grilled pork chop, the word, Cơm Tấm now refers to the particular dish, Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng (Broken Rice with Grilled Pork Chop).
Before Cơm Tấm (Broken Rice) was used in Vietnamese cuisine, it was mostly used to feed chicken or pigs. It consists of the broken rice grains and rice germs, which are very nutritious. During the 1930s and the 1940s, when agriculture played a huge part of Vietnamese economy, Cơm Tấm could be found easily in every household, and it became a popular breakfast dish. As it grew in popularity, a Vietnamese chef brought the broken rice into a French restaurant and mimicked the French’s style of marinated pork but with a Vietnamese twist. He also added toppings of Bì (spreaded pork belly and pork skin), Chả (egg meatloaf), and fish sauce onto the dish. After a while, Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng spread among the Vietnamese working class like wildfire.
Grilling the marinated pork out on the streets of the restaurant
Most restaurants who served the dish had set up the stove outside to grill the pork. The luscious smell of the juicy pork meat attracted everyone on the streets and the dish quickly became a nationwide favorite.
[How to eat]
Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng is always served with a side of fish sauce so make sure to pour some of that onto your broken rice for a savory spoonful of goodness!
(A cash-only mom-and-pop shop that serves delightful Vietnamese comfort food. Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng is only $6.50 and they are very generous with their toppings.)