Saigon has a gem called ‘com tam’

With its peculiar taste and scent, broken rice has long been considered a favorite by people of all ages and economic backgrounds in Saigon, and only in this city can its true flavor be found. Com tam, as the food is called in Vietnamese, basically refers to a rice dish whose main ingredient is broken rice, a kind of rice that seems to have been smashed by a crushing machine. A single spoonful of the delicacy is well enough to strike one’s sense of taste dumb with satisfaction. The spicy sauce adds not only to the aroma of the well-grilled pork and the smell of oily onions that are served along with the rice, but it also adds to the stiffness of the broken rice, creating a mixture of harmony, yet distinct with varied flavors. Com tam suon trung: broken rice with grilled pork and omelet sold for VND22,000 (~US$1.00) at a university in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tien Bui An upgrade of ingredients Com tam was originally consumed by the poor who could not afford to enjoy the more refined version of rice. According to a Tuoi Tre News reader, decades ago the Saigonese had to rely on crude rice processing machines which damaged the final product. The damaged rice that fell out, the broken rice, was collected by poor workers and turned into a basic rice dish for their daily existence. Back then, com tam was just a dish consisting of rice, spicy sauce and oily onions…. [Read full story]


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