My Vietnamese broken rice with grilled lemongrass pork chops makes a hearty meal and brings all the flavors and textures you want in one plate.
When it comes to rice, cơm tấm, or Vietnamese broken rice is my favorite! During the milling process, a small percentage of rice is broken and discarded. Vietnamese are known for their “no waste” approach to cooking and have transformed these imperfect rice grains into a quintessential Vietnamese dish. Travel to Vietnam and you’ll find cơm tấm in every city, a popular option for workers who need a cheap and hearty meal. I’m excited to share a version that my mom makes often, Vietnamese broken rice with grilled lemongrass pork chops, or cơm tấm sườn nướng.
What is Broken Rice
As previously mentioned, broken rice are the rice grains damaged during the drying and milling process. The manufacturers consider them inferior and low grade due to their imperfection. However, they taste similar to regular rice. Due to their smaller size, broken rice absorbs liquid and flavors more easily. I like using broken rice for making congee. My favorite brand of broken rice is Three Ladies and you can find broken rice online and at many Asian grocery stores in the same aisle that you would find other types of rice.
Tips for Marinating the Pork Chops
My mom makes a wonderful lemongrass marinade for the pork chops similar to the marinade for these grilled Vietnamese pork ribs. It has fish sauce and sugar along with the other aromatics like shallot and garlic. To get the best flavor, buy quality pork chops about ¼-1/2 inch thick! Don't trim off the fat. Pork chops are not fatty compared to other cuts of meat and can dry out after cooking. Leaving the fat on will help baste the chops as they cook. Marinate the pork chops for at least 4 hours to infuse flavor. If you can marinate them overnight, the flavor will be even better!
Tips for Grilling the Pork Chops
Take the pork chops out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling, allowing the meat to cook more evenly from edge center. Place the coals on one side of the grill, let the temperature rise to about 375-400 degrees F before tossing any meat on it. Start the pork chops on the hot side of the grill which will sear the meat and begin to caramelize the sugar. Move the meat to the cooler side to let them finish cooking. By using indirect heat, the result is a tender piece of meat without the seared black marks signaling inconsistent cooking.
What to Serve Broken Rice With
At many restaurants, a plate of broken rice is served with a protein (grilled lemongrass pork chops, grilled pork, grilled shrimp, and/or shredded pork skin/bì), steamed pork and egg meatloaf/chả trứng, a fried egg sunny-side up/trứng ốp la, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pickles/đồ chua, and a tangy sauce to bring everything together. The broken rice also comes with a small bowl of soup to help wash everything down. I wanted to keep mine simple with the grilled lemongrass pork chops as the hero but will share recipes for the other type of proteins in the future!
This broken rice plate makes a hearty meal with the grilled lemongrass pork chops, fried egg, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber. The combination of umami, sweet, and salty flavors, smokiness, and lemongrass fragrance from the pork chops make this dish irresistible while the fresh vegetables and the pickled carrot and daikon bring a nice crunch. Try my broken rice plate and you'll understand why it has become a beloved rice dish among Vietnamese!
For more Vietnamese dinner inspiration, check these recipes: Vietnamese shaking beef, Vietnamese braised pork and eggs in coconut caramel sauce, grilled Vietnamese lemongrass pork ribs, lemongrass chicken with turmeric coconut rice.
Vietnamese Broken Rice With Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops
Lemongrass Pork Chops
- 4 pieces of bone-in center cut pork chops, about 1.25 pounds
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsps vegetable oil
- 2 tbsps garlic, minced
- ¼ cup shallots, chopped
- 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pickled Carrot and Daikon
- 1 cup hot water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- 8 oz carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 8 oz daikon, cut into matchsticks
- Make the pickled vegetables the day before.
- Make the marinade the night before. Tenderize the pork chops with a meat mallet.
- Combine the fish sauce, sugar, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Add garlic, shallot, lemongrass, and pepper to the bowl.
- Arrange the pork chops in a single layer in a container big enough to hold them. Pour the marinade over and mix well to coat the pork chops. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to grill, bring the pork chops to room temperature for 30 minutes.
- To cook the broken rice, rinse it under cold water twice then drain.
- Add rice to a rice cooker and enough water to just cover the rice (a rule of thumb is to measure the rice with your index finger from the top of the rice to your first knuckle). Cook the rice according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Set up the charcoal grill by placing coals on one side and lighting them. Rake the coals to create a flat even bed to create an even steady heat zone.
- Once the coals have burned down to about 375-400 degrees F, place the meat over the coals to sear for a minute on each side.
- Move the meat to the opposite side, frequently turning and basting with the marinade for 10-12 minutes until cooked through.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry sunny side up. Allow the undersides of the eggs to get slightly crispy. Transfer them to a plate until ready to use.
- To assemble, divide the rice among serving plates. Arrange lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes around the edge. Top with pork chop and fried egg. Drizzle the scallion oil over the pork chops. Serve with nuoc cham and pickled carrot and daikon on the side.
- To make the pickle liquid, combine water, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
- Transfer the carrot and daikon to a large plastic container or non-reactive bowl.
- Pour the pickle liquid over the vegetables and set aside in the fridge for 1 day.
- Pickled carrot and daikon will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.