‘Cha com’ brings taste of Hanoi’s autumn
Unlike other kinds of cha, such as cha ruoi (nereididae sandworm omelette), cha ca (charcoal grilled fish) and cha muc (fried patties with squid eggs), which are mainly composed of aquacultural ingredients, cha com is mainly made of com (young sticky rice flakes) and has the subtle scent of new rice. Other ingredients for the dish include lean pork and pork paste.
The meat to mix with com should be lean shoulder pork, which contains fat, so the taste will not become too dry or the dish get downsized on being fried. Salt, seasoning and delicious fish sauce will then be added to the mixture. It will be left to absorb all the spices for around ten minutes.
To preserve the original scent of com, no onion or garlic is added.
After that, the mixture is kneaded into small pieces and steamed for 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, cha com is fried until it becomes light brown on both sides. According to experienced cooks, instead of being placed on plates, pieces of cha com should be arranged on lotus leaves to absorb the subtle scent of the lotus, the symbolic flower of Hanoi’s autumn.
The qualified cha com must meet several criteria, such as the skin being crisp, the com inside being soft and the fragrance of the grain having mixed with the lotus. It can be dipped into chilli or fish sauce to be eaten with cooked rice or rice noodle.
As the com season lasts for only three months. The dish can be kept in large quantities in the freezer for long-term use that so cha com is available all year round. In particular, sausage, together with bun dau mam tom (fermented shrimp paste with fried tofu and rice vermicelli), has become one of Hanoi’s most popular street foods.
The dish can be found abundantly in corners and alleys of the capital, but the most renowned stalls can be found in Phat Loc Lane, Ma May or Ngo Gach Street.