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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cha Trung Hap (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet)

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 1

There's no quicker or basic meal than com tam (Vietnamese broken rice). A basic rice plate will have your choice of meat, sometimes Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls), and Cha Trung Hap (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet).

Funnily enough, the last time I made this, in October 2008, my brother was over for dinner and I was making a quick meal for us. Then recently, near the end of his paternity leave, I wanted to help out, but was feeling too lazy to cook. So, of course, the answer again was pork chops and cha trung.

I think of cha trung as a combination of meatloaf and omelet. It's really hard to ruin this dish. Add some vermicelli noodles and Nam Meo (Tree Ear Fungus) to bind the meat, beat in a few eggs, and steam for about half an hour. If you have extra filling from making egg rolls, you can use that mixture too since many of the ingredients are similar.

You can put all the mixture into one big loaf, or several smaller loaves, or a round pan and slice into wedges.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 2

Cha Trung Hap (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet)

For one loaf, you'll need:
1 lb ground pork
1 bundle vermicelli noodles, soaked
1/3 cup dry Nam Meo (Tree Ear Fungus), soaked
3 large eggs, 2 eggs in the meatloaf, and 1 for the top
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)

Optional: 1 carrot, grated

Soak the vermicelli noodles and tree ear fungus in hot water for 15 minutes until softened.

In a bowl, mix 1 lb ground pork, vermicelli noodles, tree ear fungus, 2 large eggs (Yes, there's 3 egg yolks in the photo below because I had medium eggs, so 2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs.), 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp fish sauce.

Mix thoroughly.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 3

The carrots were because I used left over cha gio filling instead.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 4

Lightly spray or oil the pans. Put the meatloaf into a loaf pan or bowl.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 5

Beat the remaining egg and put it on top of the meat mixture.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 6

Cover and steam for half an hour on medium heat. I steamed this one using my normal method on the stove top.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 7

And steamed the loaf in my electric steamer.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 8

Nice, smooth, even steamed egg omelet.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 9

The electric steamer, with its constant circulation of liquid, made the eggs more watery and puffier. I'd recommend steaming on the stove top.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 10

See how much firmer the meatloaf looks when steamed on the stove top?

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 11

Slice the cha trung hap.

I quickly pan-fried some pork chops while the omelet was steaming.

Serve with Com Suon Cha Trung (Vietnamese Pork Chops with Steamed Egg Meatloaf) or your choice of grilled meat.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) 12


1 year ago today, Zha Jiang Mian (Chinese Fried Sauce Noodles aka "Chinese Spaghetti").
2 years ago today, Calbee Seaweed and Salt potato chips.
3 years ago today, one of my favorite dim sum restaurants is now lackluster at best - NBC Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park.


  1. we love eating the combination of this but usually hate the hassle of taking out the steamer to do so since we don't have much stove space. so one thing we do differently is fry it up on both sides. it is a bit greasier from being fried but we try to drain as much as possible but i just love the crispy crust it gets from frying that it doesn't get from steaming.

  2. Now this is something I definitely have to try. :) Gluten-free too! We have a pork patty dish that's roughly like this too, but omits the egg - basically just pork, a little bit of cornstarch to make it nice and smooth and to bind, then either a bit of chopped tung chye (preserved winter vegetables), bean thread noodles, wood-ear fungus, or a combination of all three together! Season with soy sauce, pepper and a little sesame oil if you want, then pat into a dish and steam till done, around 7-10 minutes.

  3. When you steam (on the stove top) do you mean to cover the dish in plastic wrap or just put a lid on the whole pot? Should you worry about water condensation dripping onto the omelet?

    I LOVE cha trung but I always thought it was difficult to make! I never knew the "crust" was simply another egg! This looks so easy. I can't wait to make this for lunch - I have to hunt around to see if I have all the ingredients!

    Does this dish freeze well?

    Thanks and as always you have made me hungry and itching to cook! - Karen

  4. Thanks for this! I've recently fallen in love with com tam and always wondered exactly what this "eggy prawn meatloaf" was.

  5. Thanks for posting this! We will definitely be attempting it soon. My family usually eats it with purple eggplant and a whole bunch of sambal.

  6. bluang3lbby,
    Ah, if I were frying, I would just make nem nuong. :P

    Only 10 minutes of steaming? I've tried steaming this for shorter but it just doesn't cook all the way through unless I've cooked it for longer. Sometimes I like salted fish put in this too.

    Just a lid over the top to keep the steam in. No plastic. That's what I meant about the electric steamer making this more watery, more condensation. A normal pot steaming doesn't make it that bad.

    Yup, if you want a thicker crust, just add another egg. I don't think it'll freeze too well on account of the eggs, but I've never tried.

    Ms Baklover,
    Steamed eggy meatloaf doesn't sound very appealing, but that's really all it is. :P

    I like eggplant, but wouldn't have thought it paired with this. I guess I'm too used to it being served with pork chops. :)

  7. I forgot to mention that the eggplant was raw so still crunchy.

  8. I make this too when I feel lazy. You are a much better cook than I am though, so yours looks way better. It also keeps really well, so you can easily eat this for a couple of days, unless you get sick of it. I don't eat pork chops with it because I prefer to eat less meat, but with some steam rice or crunchy veggie, this is perfect...

  9. WC, it probably cooks so fast because I put it in a very shallow enamel plate - it's only about an inch in depth at most. Yes! Salted fish in it is goooooooood. I don't use much salted fish since I'm only cooking for one person a lot of the time, but when I get hold of bits to use, mmm it's gooooood.

  10. nem nuong and this just isn't the same to me. probably because of the use in more eggs. i love my eggs.

  11. I'm not much of a cook, but when my mom makes it, rather than steaming it, she literally just puts everything straight into a medium sauce pan. It turn out a lot more firm, but the downside is the edges are crusty and brown and tastes a little burnt.

  12. Dave,
    Raw eggplant? You mean green eggplants I hope? Otherwise, I've never eaten purple eggplants raw before.

    Inside Avenue,
    I made this again to get new pictures, but I ended up liking my old pictures more. Otherwise, I'm not too fond?

    That just made me crave a bowl of salted fish fried rice!

    I think leftover filling would make good xiu mai? Nem nuong's sweetness definitely makes it different.

    I've never thought of that. My mom just microwaves it. :P

  13. i loved it! i added 3 eggs inside and i think next time 5 eggs on top ...i like it really yellow and eggy and a little more fish sauce! we like it salty =) thank you! loved the recipe and all my friends asked on instagram! you should get on there!

  14. Radish Girl,
    Whoa! That's a lot of eggs! I'm old school low-tech. Just basic phone and text on my cell phone. But please share with your friends!

  15. I have been looking for a meatloaf recipe like this for a long time. I used to live in Minneapolis and a woman that ran a restaurant called Mi Huong Kitchen used to have a crabcake she served with some of her rice noodle salads that looked a lot like this meatloaf. I will be making this soon, and likely often.

  16. Hi, I love this recipe. However, I was wondering, how much different is the final product if I baked it rather than steamed it? Does it make the meatloaf too dense? Thanks.

  17. bk,
    Crab would be so good, but a bit of a splurge for me.

    I think baking it might dry it out? The bean thread vermicelli would dry up for sure? Steaming it fluffs up the egg too. But you can try it and report back!


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