CHẢ ĐÙM (Vietnamese Meatloaf)

Since Binghamton’s First Friday Art Walk I was looking for something that could cook unattended in the oven while we toured the galleries when I came across this recipe. Try it!

The cuisine of Vietnam has a distinct French influence as can be seen in this steamed meatloaf that resembles a terrine or pâté. It can be made either with pork, as I have done here, or with beef (Bo Chả Ðùm). Serve it either hot or cold with lettuce leaves and nước chấm, a Vietnamese dipping sauce. To eat, tear off a piece of lettuce, pick up a bit of loaf with it, and dip it in the sauce.

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 dried Chinese mushrooms (I used ½ tree ears and ½ shiitake because that is what I had on hand)
  • 1½ pound pork, finely ground (I use ½ loin and ½ shoulder)
  • 6 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (nước mắm) or the more common Thai equivalent
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Soak the mushrooms in a cup of very hot water for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the water, cut off and discard any hard stems, and chop very finely.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the pork, mushrooms, and spring onions in a large bowl. (If you have meat grinder just put the pork, spring onions, and soaked mushrooms through the fine plate into the bowl.) Beat the eggs with the fish sauce and add to the meat along with the black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Grease a loaf tin or terrine with lard or butter and pack in the meat, pressing it down firmly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the loaf tin in a larger baking dish, preferably one with a rack. Fill the larger dish with hot water to come halfway up the loaf tin. Place in the oven and steam for 1 hour. When done, check that the temperature of the loaf is at least 160°. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then pour off the fat. Put cutting board or plate over the tin and invert to turn out the loaf. Turn over again onto a platter of lettuce leaves. Serve with additional lettuce and nước chấm.

To make nước chấm combine 1 tablespoon each of water, lemon juice,  and vinegar with 3 tablespoons fish sauce and 2 teaspoons (or to taste) Sriracha.

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