This is a dish I grew up eating a lot because it was easy to make, and it was also something my mom grew up eating. Cha Trung Hap is a steamed egg meatloaf filled with egg, ground pork, green onions, and wood ear mushrooms. It is literally so easy to make. Throw everything in a container, steam it, and you’re done! And it is definitely not one of the prettiest looking dishes but it tastes absolutely amazing. It is the epitome of ugly delicious.
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What is Cha Trung Hap?
Cha Trung Hap or Vietnamese Steamed Egg Meatloaf is usually served in a rice dish like Com Tam Bi or just with rice. It is characterized by a spongy texture filled with ground meat (usually pork), wood ear mushrooms, and cellophane noodles, and a bright yellow top made with egg yolk. There are a lot of variations of this dish, and it’s one of those dishes you can make your own. Usually when my mom makes it, she does her lazy version which means she doesn’t do the golden yellow top, and she might not use ground pork depending on what’s in the fridge. Other proteins that I’ve seen used are shiitake mushrooms and crab meat.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Ground pork – This is the most traditional protein used for cha trung hap. You can also use other ground meats, mushrooms, or crab meat.
- Cellophane noodles (glass noodles) – These are the thin, clear noodles you find in Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find these noodles, I would just leave them out.
- Wood ear mushrooms – Adds a nice flavor and texture to the meatloaf. If these mushrooms aren’t accessible, I would substitute with any kind of mushroom.
- Green onions & cilantro – These herbs balance out the heaviness of the other ingredients. Use one or both in the meatloaf. I like a combination of both.
- Eggs – The core component to this dish.
- Fish sauce – Adds a nice umami, salty flavor to the meatloaf. I add only 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, but you can add more if you want.
- Salt, pepper, and sugar for seasoning
- Sesame oil – Adds a smoky flavor to the meatloaf.
- Water – The mixture is actually quite thick because of all the stuff you put in it, so the water helps thin out the mixture.
Dành cho bạn: Hot Cách làm mứt gừng dẻo lạ miệng ngày tết
Making my cha trung hap
First prepare a 8×4 loaf pan by coating it with neutral oil. Next, combine all the ingredients into a bowl except for 1 of the eggs. With the remaining egg, separate the egg yolk from the egg white and add the egg white to the bowl of ingredients. Whisk together the ingredients and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Set aside the loaf pan and egg yolk.
Prep your steamer. Bring water to a simmer and add your steamer attachment on top. Put your loaf pan in the steamer. Make sure you can remove the loaf pan from the steamer after it’s done cooking. Sometimes, I like to put an upside down bowl at the bottom of the steamer to create a stand for my loaf pan. This makes it easier to remove. Steam for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, poke a few holes in the meatloaf to check if it’s done. If liquid seeps out of the meatloaf, cook it for a few minutes longer until no liquid comes out. Whisk the egg yolk from step 2 and pour it on the meatloaf in an even layer. Steam for another 5 minutes to solidify the egg yolk. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with a side of rice, pickled veggies, and nuoc cham.
Tips on how to make the perfect Cha Trung Hap
- What to do if your meatloaf is undercooked? – Believe it or not this happens a lot. There are a lot of variables that can throw off your cook time. 1) Your steamer doesn’t reach a high enough temperature. 2) The size and shape of your bowl can affect cook time. If your meatloaf is undercooked and you can’t put it back in the steamer, put it in the microwave for a few minutes until the center is cooked through. Water will come out of the center if it’s not cooked through.
- You can use different containers, but adjust your cooking time – You can use any container you want but your cook time will vary because of the difference size and shape. I have used a bowl before and that takes me about 30 minutes to cook. This recipe uses a 8×4 loaf pan and it takes 40 minutes to cook. The surest way to know if your meatloaf is done is to poke it. If you poke it a few times and no water comes out, you should be good.
- Don’t cut into the meatloaf when it’s piping hot – If you cut into the meatloaf while it’s piping hot, it will fall apart. Let it cool for a bit before cutting into it.
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