Celebration of Swine: Com Tam Suon Bi Cha (Vietnamese Broken Rice with Pork Chops and Shredded Pork Skin and Pork-Egg Custard)

com tam suon bi cha, broken rice, pork chop

De nuoi. Literally means “easy to nurture/grow” in Vietnamese. Before the inevitable departure she always asks me what I like to eat….for the rest of the week. Yes, I’m very de nuoi. This weekend we came up with Com Tam Suon Bi Cha. Truly a celebration of pork in the midst of the swine flu epidemic. This is a very traditional and special Vietnamese dish that my mom would make growing up in Michigan. It is composed of broken rice (com tam), suon (grilled pork chop), bi (pork skin), cha trung hap (steamed pork-egg custard) topped by scallion oil and dressed with nuoc nam.So we bought all the ingredients and made a call home to my mom back in Michigan to get finer details of this class Vietnamese recipe. My mom never writes down recipes and memorizes things by heart. A bit of this and a bit of that…never any exact amount. I was forever frustrated by this, but over time I grew to cook in the same way—that is, more intuitively with out exact measurements. This dish is composed of several different parts. The bi and cha trung hap can be made in advanced and lasts for days in the fridge. I strayed away from mom’s pork chop recipe by brining my chops in a coriander/Sichuan peppercorn brine. Recipe Approximately serves 6-7.

Printable Recipe
bi, pork skin
Bi (Pork skin with shredded pork, roasted rice powder, and garlic powder)

  • Approximately 1 lb Cooked, shredded pork skin. Found in Vietnamese /Asian grocery stores in the frozen section.
  • 1/2 lb. pork shoulder or other nonfatty pork meat, cut in rectangles about 3 x 2 inches.
  • ~3 oz. bag of thinh/roasted rice powder (found in spice section in Asian groceries)
  • ~2 oz. garlic powder
  • ~1 ts salt

First thaw the pork skin in the fridge the day before you plan to make this. Submerge pork skin in slightly luke warm water with a pinch of salt. Do not use hot water as this may congeal the pork skin together. Let the skin rehydrate about 20-30 mins. Drain and allow to dry before mixing.

Also day before, cook the pork. The quick way is to boil it, but mom says the traditional way is called “ram” which means to fry in a small amount of water, bit of sugar and salt. This way imparts a beautiful flavor to the pork. Cook until done and store in fridge overnight or until cool. Thinly slice into matchstick size.

Mix the dry pork skin, pork, salt, and approximately 2-3 oz. of roasted rice powder and garlic thoroughly. Add more roasted rice powder or garlic to taste. Set aside in the fridge until ready. This mixture stores well in the freezer 1-2 months. The Bi is also very popular filling and great in banh mi!

pork skin

Cha Trung Hap (Steamed Pork and Egg Custard)

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 small bundle of bean thread noodles (soaked, drained, cut into 2-3 inch length )
  • 1/2 cup tree/woodear fungus (soaked and drained)
  • 1 ts pepper
  • 1 ts salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp annatto seeds
  • 1 tbs oil (vegatable or olive oil)

Mix pork, bean thread, fungus, pepper, salt and egg whites together and set aside.
In sauce pain add oil and annatto seeds and cook for about 1 min or until desired orange/red color seeps into oil. Do not burn seeds. Strain seeds and mix cooled oil into egg yolks to get a beautiful orange/red color.

Place pork mixture into baking pan or individual ramekins. Generously layer on the egg yolk mixture and steam for about 30 minutes. This will vary with your pan and thickness of the custurd. Check using sticking fork or toothpick.

com tam, broken rice,pork chop

Suon Nuong (Grilled Pork Chops)

  • Pork chop marinade: 3 tbs fish sauce, 2 tbs sugar, 1 tbs thick soy sauce, 1 tbs olive oil, 2 crushed garlic and 1 minced shallot
  • 6 pork chops
Marinade the pork with fish sauce, sugar, garlic, oil, and thick soy sauce ( different from regular soy sauce and found in Asian groceries and provides a very nice dark caramelized color to the chops) for min 2 hrs . Pan fry or grill the chops.


Com Tam (Broken Rice)Tam refers to the broken rice grains while com refers to cooked rice and found in most Asian markets in the rice section. According to a knowledgeable source, this type of rice was the left over broken pieces of rice that Vietnamese rice farmers couldn’t sell, so they used it for themselves. Very traditional and great texture wise, and probably not as scented as long grain jasmine rice. Not an absolute requirement if you can’t find it. Substitute long grain jasmine rice if not available.


com tam, broken rice, porkchop
Eat daily…yes, very de nuoi.Also, try our other broken rice recipe Com Tam Tau Hu Ky (Bean Curd Wrapped Shrimp).

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe and

Bookmark and Share


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments