Vietnamese Air Fryer Pork Chops on Broken Rice – Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng

Vietnamese Air Fryer Pork Chops on Broken Rice – Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng

4-5 Servings

00:20 Prep

00:45 Cook

Moderate - You'll be right

Cơm tấm is a very popular rice dish on both the streets of Vietnam and in Vietnamese households. There are endless variations of this dish mainly due to its easily interchangeable elements such as sauces, herbs and choice of protein.

A typical plate of com tam consists of pork chops, a fried egg, slices of cucumber, pickles and served with a side of nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce).

However, in my opinion, the star of the show in any broken rice dish is the gạo tấm (broken rice grain) itself. As its name suggests, broken rice is literally loose shards of rice grains that were being damaged during the milling process. Previously, It was seen as a wasted crop and sold as seconds, but now due to a rise in popularity can be considered as a commodity. Broken rice is now processed by farmers by design and in our family pantry, it’s an essential.  

I’ve experienced many com tam variations from restaurants, to street food vendors in Vietnam and other Vietnamese households, but I firmly believe Mum’s nostalgic plate of com tam reigns supreme. This is mainly due to her meticulous cooking method for cooking the rice, the addition of fresh herbs and her special tomato sauce. Mum refrained from using a rice cooker to prepare broken rice grains. She preferred to par-boil it before steaming it over a low flame for perfect results. We had a specific pot for broken rice and whenever she brought it out, the entire family knew what would ensue.

Mum’s rice was always perfectly cooked through—al dente in texture with each rice grain separated from the next. This allowed the accompaniments (sauces and oils) to thoroughly coat each rice grain, thus maximising the flavour.

The addition of mint and Vietnamese perilla also gave the dish an element of freshness, cutting through the unctuous pork and creaminess of the runny egg yolk.

Finally she would make a sweet and sour sauce of bottled tomato sauce and sautéed onions, that for me tied this entire dish together. The natural sweetness and slight crunch from sautéed onions in a tart, sweet and loose tomato sauce perfectly bridges the flavour between the steamed broken rice and nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce).

In my version below, the broken rice is served with Vietnamese air fryer pork chops. Vietnamese pork chops play a big role in delivering the umami flavour in com tam, and are typically cooked over charcoal for a smoky flavour.  However, for the same flavours I’ve found the air fryer works just as well and is a big time saver when craving com tam on a weeknight. My preference is the Cuisinart Express Oven Air Fryer.

The dish is then garnished with spring onion oil, a quick house-made tomato sauce similar to mum’s, fried egg, cucumber, fresh Vietnamese herbs and finished with a generous splash of nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce).

If you’re ever craving com tam or rice in general, do yourself a favour and give this variation a go to experience the nostalgic flavours of my childhood.

Vietnamese Air Fryer Pork Chops on Broken Rice – Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng
Vietnamese Air Fryer Pork Chops on Broken Rice – Cơm Tấm Sườn Nướng

Ingredients:

Air fryer pork chops

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 1 bunch spring onion stalks (white part)

  • 1 tablespoon premium fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • ½ teaspoon anchovy salt or sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon white sugar

  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

  • 100ml water

  • 1kg pork scotch fillet (neck) or thinly sliced pork forequarter chops

  • 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil  


      

Broken rice

  • 300g broken jasmine rice

  • 2.5L water



Nước Mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce)

  • 3 birds eye chillies de-seeded

  • 3 cloves of garlic 

  • 3 tablespoons of sugar 

  • 5 tablespoons cold water 

  • ½ lime juiced

  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 

  • 3 tablespoons of premium fish sauce



Spring onion oil 

  • 1 bunch spring onions green tops

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 50ml neutral cooking oil



Tomato sauce

  • 1 tablespoons neutral cooking oil

  • 1 brown onion sliced

  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce

  • 4 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon sugar



Fried egg

  • 4-5 free-range eggs

  • 20ml cooking oil



Other

  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers julienne

  • 1 bunch Vietnamese perilla roughly chopped

  • 1 bunch mint roughly chopped

Method:

Air fryer pork chops

1. In a mortar and pestle crush garlic and spring onion stalks, then remove and place into a large mixing bowl along with remaining marinade ingredients (except pork), and mix well to combine. 

2. With the coarse side of a meat mallet, pound pork chops until 1–1.5cm thick then place in the marinade. Massage marinade into the pork, cover and place in the fridge to marinate overnight.


Duncan’s tip: If you do not have a meat tenderiser you can use something heavy such as a pestle or a rolling pin.



3. Remove pork from fridge 1 hour before cooking. Place in a pre-heated air fryer at 200C for 5 minutes, flip pork over and air fry for a further 4-6 mins or until cook through, allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Broken rice


1. Rinse broken rice under water a few times until water runs clear to remove excess starch. Add to a medium pot of boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes or until rice grain is half cooked through then strain well with a colander and return rice to pot, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes then remove from heat but keep covered until serving.


Duncan’s tip: Broken rice is preferred over short, medium and long grain rice in this dish as it’s grains are particularly small giving it the ability to absorb lots of sauce and flavour.


Nước Mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce)


1. In a mortar and pestle, crush and pound chillies and garlic into a paste then add remaining ingredients and mix well until sugar dissolves and sauce becomes slightly viscous.  


Spring onion oil


1. In a small bowl add salt and sugar to finely chopped spring onions and mix well.

2. In a small pot or milk pan bring 30ml cooking oil to smoking point. Carefully pour oil onto the spring onions then mix well and set aside.


Tomato sauce


1. In a small saucepan, add oil and sauté onion until fragrant then add remaining ingredients, mix well, bring to the boil then remove from heat and set aside.


Fried egg


1. In a small fry pan on low-medium heat, fry egg sunny side up then remove and add a pinch of sea salt to the yolk. Repeat for remaining eggs then set aside.


Plating
Pack broken rice into a rice bowl to mold rice then remove and add on a large plate and a teaspoon of spring onion oil and tomato sauce then top with a fried egg and another teaspoon of spring onion oil.
Cut pork into bite sized pieces and add to plate along with cucumber, fresh herbs and a small bowl of nước mắm.
To enjoy, pour nước mắm over rice and mix everything until well combined.


Duncan’s tip: Mix the runny egg yolk in with the rice to add a rich and decadent flavour profile to the rice

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