When I decided I wanted to make my own Banh Mi sandwich, a Vietnamese classic street food item, I realized I needed to learn how to make this Cha Lua recipe (Vietnamese Ham aka Pork Roll).
It may seem a little intimidating at first, but it really is quite easy.
I made a trip to my favorite Asian Market, and got the ingredients, which included Alsa baking powder and tapioca flour.
These are important ingredients and used in traditional Vietnamese cooking.
I really like taking a pork tenderloin and placing it through the meat grinder.
You can easily ask your butcher to do this, or you could even use your large food processor (after cutting the meat into the 1/2-inch chunks).
Or, you could just use ground pork in the meat section of your food market.
Pouring the wet mixture into the meat mixture and then processing really brings about a delicious almost airy quality to the cooked meat.
This is really fun to make!
Now, wrap the meat into banana leaves or good ole plastic wrap.
Don’t worry, the plastic wrap is not harmful to cook with. I did extensive research on this to be sure.
I easily tied the wrap both directions with kitchen twine.
Next, into my bamboo steamer they went to steam for 30 minutes.
I’m loving this so much!
And I REALLY love my double-stacked bamboo steamer!
The loaf steamed and cooked perfectly.
When I removed the pork roll out of the steamer, it was perfect!
Woo hoo! My visions of an authentic Banh Mi are getting clearer now!
I let the Cha Lua cool down a bit, then removed the strings and wrap.
I sliced so easily and the smell was really wonderful.
We couldn’t believe how much we loved this Cha Lua!
The Loon and I were really surprised at how delicious it is. Obviously, its great on Banh Mi sandwiches, but it’s great in a grilled cheese and tomato sammy, or used in a Ramen noodle soup, or by itself with soy and hot sauce.
And then I made my own Banh Mi, using my homemade Cha Lua recipe.
All I can say is “WOW!” Just look at that sandwich!
This Cha Lua recipe is really, really good…and a lot of fun to make!
Go for it
- 2 & ½ lbs lean ground pork (or, take a pork tenderloin, cut it into smaller pieces, and pulse in your food processor)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce*
- ½ teaspoon salt (I use Kosher)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 package Alsa baking powder (about 1 tablespoon)**
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour**
- ⅔ cup warm water
- *available in the Asian section of supermarkets, or in Asian Food Markets
- **available at Asian Food Markets
- Place meat in food processor and add the fish sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Pulse until fully incorporated.
- Add the baking powder and flour to the warm water (do not prep this mixture until just before you are ready to add it to the meat mixture).
- Pour the wet mixture into the meat mixture, and process for 30 seconds.
- Place the meat mixture in a medium bowl, cover, and place in fridge for overnight.
- The next day, remove the meat from the fridge, and divide into two loaves.
- Wrap each loaf tightly with plastic wrap (Saran Wrap works well). Repeat with another layer of wrap.
- Tie kitchen string around each loaf, lengthwise, and several times width-wise.
- Steam the loaves for 30 minutes.
- Remove the string and plastic wrap and slice.