Broken rice (Cơm tấm) is a dish that was historically eaten by rice farmers who couldn’t sell off their leftover broken rice grains. Instead, they would use it for themselves.
Talking about cơm tấm (broken rice), i.e we are talking about our memory in childhood, about the most popular breakfast along with beef noodle. If beef noodle is the King, I can consider "cơm tấm" as Queen!
I love cơm tấm very much, it reminds my junor high school time, when I get pocket money for breakfast, I go to cơm tấm place near to my school, order a small plate... at that time I eat slowly and wish my cơm tấm never ends on my plate. Nice smell from still hot steamed broken rice mixed with pandan leaves smell (lá dứa), fish sauce, green onion with fat (mở hành), pork skin (bì)... all these flavors combined creating unforgettable taste until now.
Long before cơm tấm mostly served only with pork skin (cơm tấm bì) or steam egg (cơm tấm chả), then we have grilled rib pork (cơm tấm sườn nướng) but nowadays I don't know why so many dishes can go with cơm tấm: from Chinese sausage, sunny side up egg, shrimp to cuttle fish, fried fish, grilled chicken... and we can have cơm tấm as lunch or dinner! The original image of cơm tấm as specific breakfast has gone!
To have a good cơm tấm, the most important is the broken rice, good rice, not too dry when cooked, not too wet, and with pandan leave smell! Then the other things can follow like fish sauce, not too sweet, not too salted, not too spicy with chili!
As told, cơm tấm is very very popular for breakfast, so you feel free to try any place around the city: on the street, in the corner of small hẽm...those places are considered the best for local, but if you go to some "branded" places like cơm tấm Kiều Giang, cơm tấm An Dương Vương ...still ok, you have more choices and for that you pay more! Personally I don't like cơm tấm Cali - a well-decorated restaurant chain specialised in cơm tấm, I tried once and never try it again! Expensive but the quality is just so so!
Very strange if we replace broken rice by normal rice, but even with the same fish sauce, green onion, pork skin...the taste changed completely! To me, the image of this simple dish will stay forever in my mind as a Queen of the street!
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