Cha Lua Vietnamese Ham Recipe

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The gio song is then traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and then boiled or steamed, and then you have your cha lua/gio lua.  This is my mom's cha lua recipe and she insists that the French Alsa baking powder is the only one that works well so look for that in your Asian Market.  My mom buys it by the case load since she always makes her own.
2 lbs fresh lean pork loin-- ground twice--ask your butcher (substituting other lean meats such as chicken or turkey may work--we just haven't tried)
1 cup water
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 bag of Alsa baking powder (try to use this brand--commonly found in Asian markets or other Single acting baking powder
2 tbsp tapioca flour

cha lua
In mixing bowl, add the pork, fish sauce, and sugar and mix. In separate bowl add the water, tapioca flour, and baking powder and mix. It will foam and bubble up--that's normal.  Fold this into the pork mixture. It will be quite moist. Cover and allow to rest at least 6 hrs, but preferably over night in the fridge.

cha lua

When ready to cook, grind the mixture one more time in small batches in your food processor. The texture should be very smooth--this is the consistency of gio song (stop here if you're just making gio song for bun moc). You can either wrap it up in banana leaf or in plastic wrap. While it's prettier and you get a slightly more fragrant cha lua with banana leaf, wrapping the cha lua in plastic wrap is much faster and easier.  We made both sausage and round shaped cha lua.  Remember that the cha lua will rise and expand a bit when cooked. Steam for about 20-25 minutes (will vary depending on size). 

*Cooks note: The amount of Alsa baking powder and tapioca flour will determine the cha lua's "bounciness" and chewiness.Other brands of single acting baking powder should work, although we have never tried and we have not tried using any double acting baking powder. .

cha lua

Pan fry some cha lua until golden brown for some great cha chien.  So tasty, easy, and inexpensive to make at home. Cha lua  keeps well in the freezer for months so there's no reason why you have to pay $4-5 per roll of cha lua in the market.  Enjoy some cha lua for Tet this year!

Lian Nguyen-Pham

Member since Jun 2010

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