Cơm Tấm

Cơm tấm is a Vietnamese dish featuring broken rice grains, typically served with grilled pork and various accompaniments.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
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Fact: Cơm tấm has been acknowledged by the Asia Record Organisation (ARO) as one of the top ten Vietnamese culinary contributions of significant value to the global community.

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Basic Information

Cơm Tấm: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/kʌm təm/

Alternative Name(s)

Cơm sườn

Dish Type

Rice dishes

Course

Main Course

Mealtime

Anytime
Origin and Region

Cơm Tấm: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Southern Vietnam

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Cơm Tấm Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Cơm Tấm: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Broken rice, pork, fish sauce, sugar, pickled carrots, and scallion oil

Main Cooking Method

Boiling, and grilling

Preparation Process

Cooking broken rice, grilling meat, preparing fish sauce, pickling carrots.
A Deep Dive

Cơm Tấm: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A staple in Southern Vietnam, especially Saigon; reflects adaptation and innovation in Vietnamese cuisine.

Taste

Savory

Texture

Soft, chewy rice with varied textures from accompaniments like grilled meat and pickled vegetables.

Aroma

Fragrant from grilled meats and fish sauce.

Color

White rice with varied colors from grilled meats, pickled vegetables, and sauces.

Serving Style

Typically served on plates with a fork and spoon, adapted from traditional bowls and chopsticks.

Serving Temperature

Hot

Accompaniment

  1. Cucumber Slices
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Soup Broth

Occasions

Daily meals, casual dining

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Gluten-free

Calories

527 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for 1 plate of cơm tấm sườn.

Popularity

Vietnam

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Bibimbap 
  2. Donburi
  3. Arroz con Pollo

Popular Dining Area

Street food vendors, local eateries

Cơm tấm is a Vietnamese dish originating from the southern part of the country, particularly notable in Saigon. The dish is centered around “tấm,” which refers to broken or fractured rice grains, while the term “cơm” signifies cooked rice in Vietnamese.

Com Tam Overview

Traditionally, cơm tấm was the food of rice farmers who utilized the broken grains that were not fit for sale during difficult seasons.

Over time, as the urban population grew, the dish became popular across various social classes. It is now a common meal that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, including breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The dish is typically accompanied by a variety of toppings, such as grilled pork (sườn), shredded pork skin (bì), and a steamed egg patty (chả). It’s often garnished with pickled vegetables and scallion oil.

A key component that brings the dish together is a drizzle of nước mắm tỏi ớt, a Vietnamese dipping sauce that is sweet, sour, and savory.
Let me guide you through the characteristics, history, evolution, key ingredients, different versions, side dishes, best places to sample, advantages and disadvantages, frequently asked questions, and dishes akin to this one.

Key Points

  • Cơm tấm is a traditional Vietnamese dish originating from Southern Vietnam, particularly notable in Saigon.
  • Cơm tấm is centered around “tấm,” which refers to broken or fractured rice grains, steamed and served as the base of the meal.
  • Cơm tấm is typically accompanied by grilled pork (sườn), shredded pork skin (bì), and a steamed egg patty (chả), with garnishes like pickled vegetables.
  • Cơm tấm is unified by a drizzle of nước mắm tỏi ớt or Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Cơm Tấm Images

When Was Cơm Tấm Invented?

Com Tam, also known as Vietnamese broken rice, originated as a dish among the rice farmers in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. It was a creation born out of necessity; during difficult rice seasons, farmers often found themselves with an insufficient amount of unbroken rice to sell.

To make use of the broken rice grains, which were a byproduct of the rice milling process and considered less desirable, they cooked them for personal consumption. This practice allowed them to utilize what was readily available in their homes and provided them with sustenance that could last for extended periods.

How Cơm Tấm Developed?

The dish evolved and gained popularity, particularly in Southern Vietnam and Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), during the urbanization of Vietnam in the first half of the 20th century.

As the city became a bustling hub, attracting people from various countries, the dish was adapted to cater to a wider range of tastes, which included the addition of ingredients like grilled pork and egg. The way it was served also changed, with plates and forks replacing the traditional bowls and chopsticks.

Today, Com Tam is a beloved dish in Vietnam, especially in Saigon, and it’s considered a cultural staple, reflecting the city’s culinary heritage. Thus, the journey of Cơm Tấm showcases broken rice as the fundamental element that has remained a constant in this cherished dish.

What Are The Main Components of Cơm Tấm?

Essential components for Cơm Tấm include the following:

Broken Rice

Broken Rice

Often used as an economical food option in various regions, particularly West Africa and Southeast Asia.

Pork Chops

Pork Chops

Pork chops seasoned and cooked on a grill.

Shredded Pork Skin

Shredded Pork Skin

A combination of shredded pork and pork skin, flavored with roasted rice powder.

Egg Meatloaf

Egg Meatloaf

A traditional Vietnamese steamed egg dish with meat, which can also be replaced by an omelet or fried egg in modern versions.

Scallion Oil

Scallion Oil

Scallion sautéed in hot oil until tender, used as a topping.

Nuoc Mam Ot

Nước Mắm Tỏi Ớt (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

A condiment made with fish sauce, often customized with a balance of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and spiciness to enhance the flavor of the dish.

Pickled Vegetables

Pickled Vegetables

Typically includes carrots and daikon radish, adding a tangy and sweet crunch to the meal.

Understanding these fundamental elements not only highlights the traditional essence of Cơm Tấm but also sets the stage for exploring its myriad variations.

What Are Cơm Tấm Variations?

Cơm tấm has 7 most famous variations, each with unique ingredients and preparations:

Com Tam Suon

Broken rice with grilled pork chop.

Com Tam Suon Bi Cha Trung

Broken rice with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, steamed pork and egg custard, and a sunny-side-up egg. Chinese sausage is also a popular topping besides the toppings mentioned.

Com Tam Long Xuyen

A local specialty from Long Xuyên city featuring fine broken rice. It’s served with finely chopped grilled pork, pork skin, pickled veggies, and caramelized egg.

Com Tam Suon Que

Broken rice with grilled pork ribs.

Com Tam Cha Cua

Broken rice with Vietnamese crab meatloaf.

Com Tam Ga Nuong

Broken rice with grilled chicken.

Com Tam Chay

A vegetarian version of broken rice, usually with tofu or mock meats as protein substitutes, served with vegetarian fish sauce.

These variations not only highlight the versatility of Cơm Tấm but also underscore the importance of its accompaniments, which play a crucial role in defining the distinct flavors and textures of each unique version.

What to Serve with Cơm Tấm?

Here are some traditional items you can serve with cơm tấm:

Cucumber Slices

Cucumber Slices

Fresh cucumber provides a cool and crisp contrast to the rich flavors.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Fresh or lightly pickled tomato slices add acidity and freshness.

Soup Broth

Soup Broth

A light vegetable or meat broth often accompanies the meal to cleanse the palate.

Alongside these traditional accompaniments, experiencing Cơm Tấm in its authentic context at local Vietnamese eating places offers a deeper appreciation and understanding of this dish.

Where to Try Cơm Tấm?

Check out these popular eateries for Cơm Tấm in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi:

In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền
Address: 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
Cơm Tấm Phúc Lộc Thọ
Address:
236 Dinh Tien Hoang, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
256 Nguyen Duy Trinh, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City
538 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Cơm Tấm Bụi Sài Gòn
Address:
100 Thach Thi Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
378 Le Van Luong, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City
172C Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City

In Hanoi

Cơm Tấm Sà Bì Chưởng
Address: 86 Nguyen Van Tuyet, Dong Da, Hanoi
Cơm Tấm Tư Mập 
Address: 241 Thuy Khue, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Cơm Tấm 36
Address: 11 Phung Hung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Visiting these recommended venues provides an excellent opportunity to not only savor the flavors of Cơm Tấm but also to weigh the pros and cons of this delicacy.

Pros and Cons of Eating Cơm Tấm

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of cơm tấm:

Pros

  • Economical: It has become a popular food choice for those looking for a cost-effective meal.
  • Texture: Some people prefer the softer texture of broken rice, which can be particularly enjoyable and easier to eat.
  • Culinary Variety: Cơm tấm is usually served with a variety of accompaniments such as grilled pork, fried egg, and pickled vegetables, providing a balanced meal with proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
  • Cultural Experience: It offers a taste of Vietnamese cuisine and culture. It’s a staple in Southern Vietnam and a must-try for visitors.
  • Availability: It is widely available in Vietnam and in Vietnamese eateries around the world, making it an accessible meal for many.

Cons

  • Nutritional Value: Broken rice may have slightly different nutritional content than whole grain rice. The process of breaking can cause loss of nutrients that are typically contained in the outer layer of the rice grains.
  • Glycemic Index: Like white rice, broken rice has a high glycemic index, which means it can cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels. This may not be ideal for individuals managing diabetes.
  • Sustainability: If the demand for broken rice increases significantly, it could potentially lead to intentional breaking of rice to meet the market demand.

Moreover, the FAQs section is not to be missed for extra clarity.

Cơm Tấm FAQs

Cơm tấm itself is gluten-free since rice is naturally free of gluten. However, diners should ensure that marinades and sauces do not contain gluten-containing ingredients if they are sensitive or allergic to gluten.

While you can use regular rice, the texture and experience will differ from traditional cơm tấm, which is characterized by the unique texture of the broken grains.

Yes, you can add chili peppers to the marinade or the fish sauce, or serve it with a side of spicy chili sauce to adjust the heat to your preference.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert

Education

  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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