Best Authentic Vietnamese Broken Rice Com Tam Recipe with Grilled Pork

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This Vietnamese broken rice recipe is for a simple to make iconic Saigon food. Full of flavor, the soft and fluffy broken rice with grilled pork chops and an outstanding fish sauce will excite your taste buds.

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What is Broken Rice?

Vetnamese Broken rice pork chop recipe or com tam by Authentic Food Quest
Vietnamese broken rice with pork chop at a Saigon cooking class

Broken rice as the name suggests, are rice grains that are damaged during harvesting, milling or transportation.

While there is nothing wrong with the broken gains, they are deemed inferior and considered low grade because they are not perfect grains.

Due to the different shapes and sizes of the rice, broken rice has a softer texture compared to “unbroken” rice and absorbs flavors easily. It also cooks faster making it a popular choice for rice dishes that need long cooking times.

Com Tam in Danang Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Typical Com Tam eatery in Vietnam

In Vietnam, broken rice or cơm tấm is arguably the most iconic Saigon street food. The word “cơm” refers to cooked rice while “tấm” refers to broken rice grains.

Traditionally, com tam is eaten with pork chops, shredded pork or pork loaf. Restaurants will also serve a small bowl of nuoc cham or dipping fish sauce, the indispensable accompaniment.

Discovering Broken Rice in Saigon

Claire and Rosemary in Saigon Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Claire and Rosemary with a broken rice meal at a Saigon cooking class

While com tam is available throughout Vietnam, the dish takes on special significance in Saigon. Considered the city’s dish, com tam is also referred to as “Cơm Tấm Sài Gòn”.

While walking around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, we noticed many street stalls with a “Com Tam” sign. No matter the time of day, morning, noon or night, there were always locals eating com tam.

One of our most enjoyable experiences in Saigon was learning how to make com tam. In a fun cooking class, we not only made com tam from scratch, but also learned about its deep history and cultural significance.

Broken rice or com tam we learned, is only one of several rice varieties in Vietnam. Once considered of lesser quality and a “poor man’s rice”, its status has evolved. 

Com tam has become a popular ingredient amongst chefs and used in many Vietnamese dishes.

The secret we learned to successfully cooking com tam was to use an equal ratio of water to rice. And, no more! 

READ MORE: Making Broken Rice in A Fun Saigon Cooking Class

History of Vietnamese Broken Rice or Com Tam

Broken rice com tam street food stand in Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Com Tam street food stand in Vietnam

   “The rice grain is the pearl of heaven”

Vietnamese Proverb

In Vietnam, rice is a symbol of life. It is known as a “the pearl of God” and it forms the basis of all Vietnamese meals. 

There are many varieties of rice that exist that vary in taste, texture, color, and aroma. In addition, rice is also the basis for food products like rice paper, rice noodles, rice wine, rice vinegar and more.

The Mekong Delta in the south is the biggest rice-producing region in Vietnam. It is often referred to as Vietnam’s Rice Bowl.

The history of broken rice is said to have begun with poor rice farmers in the Mekong Delta. It is said the farmers started eating the broken rice grains because they could not sell them.

They soon developed a taste for it and with urbanization brought the dish to Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City. Economic reforms in the 1980s and growth in rice production, meant broken rice remained available and accessible.

As the economic situation in Vietnam improved, cơm tấm stalls opened up all over. Eventually, com tam became a much loved local food crossing economic boundaries. 

Broken rice pork chop Com tam suon nuong by Authentic food Quest
Typical Saigon broken rice pork chop street food

Today, com tam is recognized as the signature dish of Saigon. It is usually served with grilled pork chop or “sườn nướng”, shredded pork skin, or egg.

The rice and pork are typically accompanied by slices of fresh tomato, cucumbers, and radish.

READ MORE: 15 Local Foods Not To Miss in Saigon

Where To Buy Broken Rice

Broken Jasmine Rice by Authentic Food Quest
Large bags of Jasmine broken rice

The easiest place to find broken rice is at the Asian grocery stores in your area. When you make it to the rice aisle, don’t be surprised to see it packed in large 5 lbs bags or larger. Keep in mind, rice is the important dish in Asian cooking.

The most widely available broken rice is Jasmine broken rice from Thailand. This is simply because Thailand is one of the world’s largest exporters of Jasmine broken rice. 

Alternatively, you can also find broken rice on Amazon. One good and popular brand to get is Three Ladies Jasmine Broken Rice.

Despite being from Thailand, you can still use it to make your Vietnamese broken rice dish.

Broken Rice Price – Cost of Broken Rice

Broken rice with egg com tam trung Authentic Food Quest
Classic plate of com tam or broken rice street food with egg in Vietnam

Broken rice is one of the most beloved dishes in the south of Vietnam. Interestingly, what started as a “poor man’s” inexpensive rice is now incredibly popular across all social classes.

With its popularity broken rice prices are in some cases more expensive than regular long grain rice.

You can get a 5 lb bag of broken rice for under $15.00 compared to about $10.00 for long-grain rice.

Carolina Gold Rice – Broken Rice in The American South

Carolina Gold Rice Broken Rice Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Broken rice from South Carolina

Broken rice is not just a Vietnamese phenomenon. We also learned about broken rice while exploring Southern cuisine in South Carolina. 

In a conversation with Chef Parker at Revival Restaurant in Charleston, we learned about South Carolina’s rich rice culture. The broken rice, known as Carolina Gold Rice, is popular and eaten as Midland rice grits.

Like in Vietnam, the less expensive broken rice is a favorite amongst top chefs.

READ MORE: How To Define Southern Cuisine With South Carolina Chefs

Broken Rice Recipe – How To Make Broken Rice at Home

Ingredients Vietnamese Broken Rice Com Tam by Authentic food Quest
Ingredients for broken rice pork chop at Saigon cooking class

Making com tam at home is not difficult. Our suggestion is to have all the essential ingredients ready on the counter before you get started.

 For a Saigon experience, we recommend making your broken rice with grilled pork chops or cơm tấm sườn nướng.

How To Cook Broken Rice

Rosemary learning how to cook broken rice in Saigon Vietnam by AuthenticFoodQuest
Rosemary learning how to cook broken rice in Saigon

There are two main ways of cooking rice. Both methods are quick and easy and they both yield perfectly cooked Vietnamese broken rice.

In Vietnam, rice cookers are an indispensable kitchen item. With rice consumed at almost every meal using a rice cooker to make broken rice is easy.

If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can also make Vietnamese broken rice easily on the stove top.

Please see the broken rice recipe instructions below.

Broken Rice Cooking Instructions For Rice Cooker

If you have a rice cooker, simply follow the steps below to make your Vietnamese broken rice.

  • Measure 2 cups of broken rice, 2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt.
  • Rinse the broken rice with water until the water is clear.
  • Transfer the washed broken rice into the rice cooker 
  • Add the water and pinch of salt and set your rice cooker to cook.

Cooking Broken Rice on The Stove Top

If you don’t have a rice cooker, the process of making Vietnamese broken rice on the stove top is almost identical.

  • Measure 2 cups of broken rice, 2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt.
  • Rinse the rice and transfer it into a pot with water and salt
  • Bring it to a boil, stir it, and then cover with a tight-fitting lid
  • Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let it cook for about 15 – 20 minutes
  • After the rice is cooked. Turn off the heat and let it sit in the pot for an extra 5 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and serve

What Does Broken Rice Taste Like?

Bowl of cooked broken rice by Authentic Food Quest
Cooked broken rice

Broken rice tastes exactly like regular long-grain rice. With the shorter grains, the texture is soft, and never mushy. 

When cooked, broken rice is slightly softer and fluffier. The taste depends on what you serve it with. 

Broken rice soaks up whatever sauce you put on it very nicely.

What to Make With Broken Rice – Marinated Grilled Pork Chop or Com Tam Suon Nuong

Grilled pork chop Vietnamese Broken Rice Recipe Authentic Food Quest
Pork chops grilled over charcoal for broken rice pork chop

Com tam, Saigon’s signature dish is most popularly served with marinated grilled pork chops. It is known as com tam suon nuong or cơm tấm sườn nướng. 

With this broken rice recipe, we recommend having grilled pork chops for authentic Vietnamese flavors.

Other popular Vietnamese accompaniments include grilled meats, egg meatloaf, shredded pork or an egg cooked sunny-side up.

The broken rice pork chop meal is typically garnished with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. You can also add lightly fried sliced spring onions, pickled radish, and carrots.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Made From Fish Sauce

One of the secret ingredients to a tasty com tam recipe is the dipping sauce. This is one of the most quintessential elements that adds richness to the dish.

Each restaurant and home cook has their own way of mixing the fish sauce.

The dipping sauce which always includes fish sauce and sugar has wonderful sweet and sour flavors. 

This sauce is so important that getting it right determines whether the broken rice dish is delicious or not.

You can make this broken rice recipe with this traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add fish sauce, water, and sugar and stir until everything dissolves completely
  • Garnish with sliced or pickled carrots, daikon, or radish
com tam suong nuong broken rice recipe with pork chop by Authentic food quest

Broken Rice Recipe with Grilled Pork Chop

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This Vietnamese broken rice recipe is for a simple to make iconic Saigon food. Full of flavor, the soft and fluffy broken rice with grilled pork chops and an outstanding fish sauce will excite your taste buds.

Ingredients

Broken Rice

Grilled Pork Chops & Marinade

  • 2 slices of pork chops at ¼ lb or 100 grams each for a total of ½ lb or 200 grams of pork chops. Choose the one attached with the bone
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoon of chopped spring onions
  • 2 teaspoon (10ml) of annatto oil
  • 2 teaspoon of of chicken powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) of oyster oil
  • 2 teaspoon (10 grams) of sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon (22ml) of soy sauce
  • Pinch of five spices powder

Dipping Fish Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of fish sauce
  • 6 tablespoons (88 ml)  of water
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • Pickled or fresh slices of carrot or radish for garnish

Instructions

How To Cook Broken Rice in a Rice Cooker

  1. Measure 2 cups of broken rice and wash under cold running water
  2. Transfer the clean rice into your rice cooker
  3. Add 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt
  4. Set your rice cooker to start cooking


How to Cook Broken Rice on the Stovetop

  1. Measure 2 cups of broken rice and wash under cold running water
  2. Rinse the rice and transfer it into a pot with water and salt
  3. Bring it to a boil, stir it, and then cover with a tight-fitting lid
  4. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let it cook for about 15 - 20 minutes
  5. Once the rice has cooked, turn off the heat and let it sit in the pot for an extra 5 minutes
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve


Grilled Pork Chops

  1. Prepare the marinade for pork chops
  2. In a large dish mix chopped shallots, spring onions, annatto oil, soy sauce, oyster oil with chicken powder, sugar, and five spices powder.
  3. Cover the pork chops with the marinade and let it sit for 10 -15 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  4. Warm up your grill to medium and cook pork chops until they turn to a golden brown color
  5. Slice tomato, cucumber, and radish julienne-style


Dipping Fish Sauce

  1. In a separate dish, mix 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, with 6 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of sugar
  2. Stir until everything dissolves completely
  3. Feel free to taste and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking


Assembling Your Plate of Vietnamese Broken Rice with Grilled Pork Chops

  1. To prepare your plate Vietnamese style, start by serving the rice. 
  2. Fill a cup or small rice bowl with cooked broken rice. 
  3. Press it gently into the bowl
  4. Turn it upside down onto a plate and it should form a perfect dome
  5. Next, lay the grilled pork next to the rice
  6. Pour the dipping sauce into a small dipping bowl
  7. Garnish the plate with sliced tomato, cucumber, or radish

Notes

Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar used in the dipping fish sauce for this broken rice recipe

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 614Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 2039mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 4gSugar: 12gProtein: 41g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information is generated by an online API and makes calculations based on serving sizes. These figures are only estimates and results may vary.

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52 comments

  1. The Vietnamese dipping sauce sounds delicious! It is interesting that broken rice can be more expensive than long grain rice. Do they intentionally break it now for higher sales? The Vietnamese dipping sauce sounds delicious!

    Reply
  2. I’ve never heard of broken rice before but it’s so interesting to learn the history behind this place and the name ‘broken rice!’ I can’t wait until we’re all able to get out to eat again as we’re still in lockdown over here.

    Reply
  3. Oh, wow, such a comprehensive post! Thanks so much for teaching me a whole lot of things! Now I see how the name “broken rice” came about.
    Looks yummy and delicious! 😋

    Reply

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