In Vietnam, Com Tam (literally translated "half-grain rice") is a versatile dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If eaten for lunch or dinner, full-grain rice is used instead. A common side to eat with Com Tam, and my favorite choice when ordering this dish, is egg meatloaf. Done right, it has a soft, spongy texture that melts in your mouth. This meatloaf is also very healthy because it is steamed and can contain many kinds of vegetable.
Soak the black fungi and vermicelli in cold water for one hour or until the fungi fully expand and the vermicelli softens. Drain and finely dice the fungi into small bits and cut the noodles into 2 cm long strings.
Cut off the roots of the spring onions and discard. Cut the pale parts and very finely dice both the pale and green parts, keep them separate from each other.
Separate three yokes from the eggs. Beat the whites with the remaining four eggs, preserve the yokes for later.
Into a mixing bowl, combine the pork mince, beaten eggs, diced onion, pale part of the spring onion, fungi and vermicelli. Season with two tea spoons of salt, one tea spoon fish sauce, one tea spoon sugar and one tea spoon ground black pepper. Adding smoked paprika and garlic powder is recommended, but not mandatory. Mix until well combined and congealed.
In a ceramic baking dish about 5 cm deep, spread the mixture evenly. Brush the surface lightly with cooking oil. Bake the meatloaf in a water bath at oven temperature of 180 degrees C. The water in the bath must be boiling when the baking process starts. Set the timer for 30 minutes.
While the meatloaf is baking, start on preparing the rice and garnishes. Cook the rice in a cooker with rice/ water ratio of 1 : 1.5.
Heat oil in a frying pan at high heat. Cook the green part of the spring onion until soft and fragrant. It is done right when the onion green is slightly sweet when chewed, but still keeps the fresh colour.
Crush the garlic and finely dice the chilies. Dilute half a cup of fish sauce with one cup water. Then add four tea spoons of sugar and stir until dissolved. Taste the sauce and add more sugar until the saltiness of the fish sauce no longer leaves a strong impression upon the tongue. This step is delicate and experience will improve the next mixture. Experiment in small portions until a desired taste is achieved. Then mix in the garlic and chili. This will remove the unpleasant smell of fish sauce.
When timer is up, check the meatloaf for doneness by piercing it with a skewer or toothpick. If the juice from the loaf runs clear then it is cooked. If uncooked check again every five minutes. Brush the preserved egg yokes on the surface of the loaf and bake at 200 degrees C for further five minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for ten minutes.
Serve the egg meatloaf with rice, accompanied with the fish sauce mixture. Spread some of the green onion oil on top of the rice and meatloaf. Vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber or tomato are good garnishes.
- For greener eaters, finely diced carrots can be combined into the mixture.
- Try combining the prepared fish sauce mixture with pickled carrots and radishes found in jars in Asian stores. The pickle juice is a nice combination to the fish sauce, along with the vegetables themselves.
- For a low fat diet, omit the green onion and oil. The green can instead be combined into the meatloaf, provided they are chopped very finely.
- The best way to eat this dish is to drizzle the rice with the fish sauce mixture but keep it from getting too soggy. Save some of the sauce for dipping the meatloaf in.
- This recipe uses and produces a massive amount of food, and it is mean to be used by restaurants for morning breakfast opening time. You can cut down the ingredients accordingly.
Bean Vermicelli: This is often found in Asian food stores. they are small hard string noodle made from bean powder, do not to be confused with the rice counterpart. Black Fungi: This can be found in Chinese or Vietnamese stores, they only come dried in packages. Also known as cloud ear fungus because they resemble ears protruding from tree trunks. Half-Grained Rice: This can be substituted with medium grained rice, as long as the grains seem half of a normal jasmine grain