Cha Lua (Vietnamese Ham) aka Pork Roll

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 Cha Lua (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, pulled out my bamboo steamer, and in a snap…I had homemade 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.


Really, really good…and a lot of fun to make!  Go for it

Cha Lua (Vietnamese Ham aka Pork Roll)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Cha Lua (Vietnamese Ham aka Pork Roll) is a must when you're making the classic Banh Mi Sandwich. But it is so good for so many other uses. Traditionally, the ham is steamed in banana leaves, but wrapping tightly in wrap works just fine and so much easier. (And I did the research, using a brand like Saran Wrap is does not contain any harmful plasticizers and is safe to use during the steaming process). Bottom line...this Cha Lua is delicious! You'll need to start the Cha Lua the night before you cook it.
Recipe type: Asian
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4 - 6
  • 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
  1. Place meat in food processor and add the fish sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Pulse until fully incorporated.
  2. 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).
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the meat mixture, and process for 30 seconds.
  4. Place the meat mixture in a medium bowl, cover, and place in fridge for overnight.
  5. The next day, remove the meat from the fridge, and divide into two loaves.
  6. Wrap each loaf tightly with plastic wrap (Saran Wrap works well). Repeat with another layer of wrap.
  7. Tie kitchen string around each loaf, lengthwise, and several times width-wise.
  8. Steam the loaves for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the string and plastic wrap and slice.
  10. Enjoy!



  • Awesome recipe, thanks so much for posting!

    Quick question if you’re/anyone is still moderating this post, what do you mean by “do not prep this mixture until just before you are ready to add it to the meat mixture”? Does that mean the wet mixture should sit for a certain amount of time before it’s poured into the meat mixture? If that’s the case, then how much time should the wet mixture sit, at a minimum, before it’s poured into the meat mixture?

    • HI Kim! Just mean once you add the baking powder and the flour to the warm water, give it a quick stir, and then immediately add it to the meat mixture. You don’t want it to settle and then add it in. This helps with the texture of the finished ham. I hope that is clear, if not, let us know! And please stay in touch! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • Kris and Wes….
    Puts westernised asian dudes like me to absolute shame.
    You guys are outright kitchen kahunas ! Thank you
    I think BPA free cling wrap is fine for steaming.
    The cheddar went with vietnamese ham despite the garlic and fish sauce?
    Wondering if it goes with some seeded mustard and/or mayo with a hint of chilli

    Gusto mangiare !

    • Thank you, Pete! I think this is the kind of recipe that can definitely be played around with to taste your liking. I tried to stick with the traditional cha lua version here. I had the same thoughts about the grilled cheese sammy, and I have to tell you, it was really delicious! Mustard seed, mayo and chili would make it even that much better. Love it all!! Thanks for your note, and stay in touch!

  • I bow down to you for even attempting this. I like making my own banh mi sandwiches and am always looking for a reliable cha lua recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Sophie! I did a bunch of research, and pieced together this recipe. I, too, love a really good banh mi sandwich, but really wanted it all to be as fresh as possible. And both Wesley and I were really surprised at how delicious and relatively easy to make was this cha lua! I seared a few pieces last night, and then made an incredible grilled cheese with fresh cha lua, tomatoes and cheddar. Wow! We LOVED it! Thanks for letting me hear from you…please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley.

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