Cha Lua Vietnamese Ham Recipe

cha lua

Cha lua or gio lua (Vietnamese ham/sausage) is another common item on the traditional Tet menu. As we mention, Tet is a time for families to come together and celebrate the new year with a fresh start. But it’s also a time to remember and honor the past. During Tet, cha lua is frequently used as an offering to relatives that have passed and placed before the ancestral alter in each home. And of course since it’s a filling for the traditional new year snack banh day (sticky rice cakes),  you can’t have a shortage of cha lua around the house during Tet.

The rest of the year however, cha lua is something that’s so ubiquitous in Vietnamese cuisine, that we often take it for granted.  Cha lua goes well with anything from banh mi, banh day (sticky rice cakes), banh cuon (steamed rice rolls), xoi gac (red sticky rice), and noodle soups such as bun thangbun moc (pork and mushroom noodle soup), and bun bo hue.  Or it can simply be fried (cha chien) and dipped in a chili fish sauce and eaten with rice.

Hang with us for a second now–here’s where the terminology can be tricky.   Before the cha lua/gio lua is cooked, it’s in a form of a pork paste called gio song (song in this context means uncooked)–a lean cut of pork is grounded/pounded into a paste and seasoned.  This gio song is what you find in the frozen section of your Asian grocer and is used to make our bun moc (pork and mushroom noodle soup). From this gio song base you can also make cha que (cinnamon pork pate).

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.

cha lua


Cha Lua Gio Song Vietnamese Ham


5 lbs ground pork loin-- ground twice--ask your butcher (can substitute with other lean meats such as chicken)
3 cup water
7 oz potato starch
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tbs salt
3 bag of Alsa baking powder (or any single acting )


In large mixing bowl add fish sauce, sugar, salt, potato starch and mix well. Add the finely ground pork and mix well until all the liquid has been absorbed into the pork. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and microwave for 20s and test the seasoning. Adjust to taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, set a large steamer and bring to boil. You need to whip the mixture either with stand mixer with paddle attachment or food processor. Work in small batches and whip the mixture one more until it's glossy and smooth.  It's very important to keep the mixture cold, so only work in small batches and keep remainder in the fridge. The texture should be very smooth--stop here if you're just making gio song. If you want cha lua, take small portions and wrap in either banana leaf or in plastic wrap. Steam until the internal temperature of the cha hits 165.

Here’s a video recap:

cha lua

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 (make sure you use microwave safe plastic wrap).  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 starch 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. Single acting ones like the one listed is very common in Asian markets and should sought out first.

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!

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144 Responses to “Cha Lua Vietnamese Ham Recipe”

  1. 1

    Tung — February 8, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    good stuff bro. banh mi cha for lunch for the upcoming week? hehe.

  2. 2

    Tuty — February 8, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    Great looking ham and looks simple to do.
    BTW, what's the advantage of using the Alsa Baking Powder?

  3. 3

    Ravenous Couple — February 8, 2010 @ 7:07 am

    Tung: Yup! We always keep some cha lua in the freezer ready to go!

    Tuty: We're not entirely sure, but we always listen to Mom!! She swears that the alsa baking powder is the best for making cha lua.

  4. 4

    Pete — February 8, 2010 @ 8:01 am

    Nice Vietnamese ham recipe…it looks very delicious!

  5. 5

    john@he needs food — February 8, 2010 @ 8:10 am

    I've had this before and often wondered how it was made. Now that I know it's beyond easy to make, I'll be trying it real soon.

  6. 6

    Table Talk — February 8, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

    This is another new one for me—I like the idea of browning it a bit (thinking nice crispy edges); sure looks/sounds fantastic!

  7. 7

    e d b m — February 8, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

    Hi, I can eat this stuff in a hot dog all day long. I've been looking for this recipe for a long time, so thank you. I couldn't imagine eating a banh mi or banh cuon, without this! My wife and I just got back from Vietnam and this was one of many things we were able to enjoy.

  8. 8

    Ben — February 8, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Thank you for sending me this wonderful recipe,Thanks.

  9. 9

    mieuai — February 8, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    cam on Chi nha. Nhin ngon va hap dan qua

  10. 10

    Ravenous Couple — February 8, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    Pete: Thanks for stopping by our blog!

    John: If you ever eatend vietnamese food, and it sounds like you've eaten your share, you're bound to have eaten cha lua. Cha lua is so common and good!

    Debi: the flavors of the cha lua is enhanced when fried

    edbm: thanks for stopping by our blog…cha lua is healthier than a hotdog and we know what's in it! 🙂

    Ben and Mieuai: thank you!

  11. 11

    mycookinghut — February 8, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    This looks really interesting! Never seen or tried bfore! To do for me! 😉

  12. 12

    Fresh Local and Best — February 8, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

    Ahhh! I've been waiting for you guys to do a post on cha-lua. This is indeed a ubiquitous ingredient. I'm looking forward to making my own cha-lua soon!

  13. 13

    Gastronomer — February 8, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

    I am totally impressed, Ravenous Couple! My goal is to make cha lua and banh day from scratch before the year is over. Thank you so much for the recipes 🙂

  14. 14

    _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver — February 8, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

    Been loving your posts for quite a while now, just thought I'd let you know. All these interesting Vietnamese recipes… I just don't a specific comment; usually I just read and look and admire. =)


  15. 15

    5 Star Foodie — February 8, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    This ham looks fantastic! I would definitely like to try it!

  16. 16

    Anh — February 8, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    oh you guys are cooking up a storm for Tet! I feel so embarassed for not doing anything. It's so hot here in Melbourne, I will do something very light for Tet :).

    One trick for making Cha Lua (or Viet meat paste) is to keep the mixture as cold as possible. I rest it overnight, but sometimes even when we pound the mixture in the mixer, it gets hot. The solution is to add in some ice cubes. This tip is really handy I found!

  17. 17

    Chicken — February 8, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

    I'm so envious you'll have all these yummy foods for Tet. I tried to explain to my friends, but I'm not sure they're open to trying everything (they know pho and that's it).

    I'll have to become friends with you guys and hang around with tupperware for all your scraps someday!

    Nam Moi!


  18. 18

    Rasa Malaysia — February 8, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

    I am very surprised that there is no fish paste in the recipe, I have always thought there is because it does taste a little like fish cakes, but I guess it's the fish sauce. My Muslim friends love this, and I never dare to tell them that this is not halal because of pork. They thought it's fish cakes. 😉

  19. 19

    Kitchen M — February 8, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    mmm… looks so fluffy and light, almost like fish cake consistency. I've never tried, but it looks good! Have a Happy New year!

  20. 20

    Marc @ NoRecipes — February 9, 2010 @ 4:30 am

    Mmmm I bet this is great straight out of the banana leaf. Are those fresh? We only get the frozen ones out here in NY.

  21. 21

    Ravenous Couple — February 9, 2010 @ 4:39 am

    Christine: How did you guess that we'll post cha lua? 🙂

    Anne: Like others have mention, cha lua is sorta like fish paste, but just pork.

    Cathy: we know how much you like doughy snacks and have made much more complicated things so this should be a snap.

    ts_eatingclub: thanks so much for letting us know! your blog is awesome!

    Anh: ooh we're cheating and using the food processor for our cha lua…thanks for the tips! do you use tapioca starch or potato starch?

    Hanh: That's why we've blog about everything except pho and bun bo hue..although eventually we'll make that too 🙂

    RM: cha lua consistency is similar–why ruin a good thing and tell them? 🙂

    Kitchen M: You have to try some cha lua one's great with banh cuon.

    Marc: We still use frozen banana leaves for convenience sake and plastic wrap is even more convenient than that 🙂

  22. 22

    Tung — February 9, 2010 @ 6:37 am

    hey, when's the banh chung/banh tet recipe making their debut? tet's almost here.

  23. 23

    MaryMoh — February 9, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    These look very delicious. I have to try this. Great even as topping for noodles. Thanks for sharing.

  24. 24

    Tammy — February 9, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    This is addictive stuff, and I can confirm it is easy and fun (anything with a bubbling chemical reaction…)to make! The funny thing is Alsa is about the only baking powder you findin the regular supermarkets here in France. (Maybe the Viet preference is a culinary legacy of the French colonial period, the way asparagus was also introduced to the Vietnamese…)

  25. 25 — February 9, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    Wow, I think I've finally come across a vietnamese dish that has yet to graze my taste buds?!?! Now I'll have to go on a mission to find this because I'm not qualified to make this!

    I still can't believe you guys whip this stuff up from scratch. Hard core! And photos are purty as always 🙂

  26. 26

    Pham — February 9, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

    Why so much water? (1cup)?

  27. 27

    Lan Anh — February 9, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    I have to say, I'm a huge fan of your site and recipes (I have been for a long time)! Just wanted to thank you for taking the time and effort to post these recipes. These are recipes I can follow and almost exactly like my mom's. I love Vietnamese food, but my mom doesn't exactly have written instructions, so having someone written them down to be able to follow will allow us 2nd generation Vietnamese to continue the tradition! Thank you so much and Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

  28. 28

    kitchensidecar — February 10, 2010 @ 4:57 am

    I am SO INCREDIBLY GLAD I found this site!!!!

    Now I will be able to cook all the great food that I have been eating in Vietnam! I can't wait to buy vietnamese cooking supplies before I leave!

  29. 29

    pigpigscorner — February 10, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

    The texture reminds me of fishcakes. Can I use regular baking powder?

  30. 30

    Ravenous Couple — February 10, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

    Tung: making banh chung and banh tet is such a hard endeavor…we'll save that for another year..

    Mary: yes, cha lua goes really well with soups

    Tammy: You're definitely on to something there with the Alsa and possible link to the French introduction of it to Vietnam.

    Dhale: Get out of here! there's no way that you could have lived out here in Cali and not eaten cha lua!

    Pham: The water is needed to mix with the baking powder and tapioca flour. it seems like alot, but that mixture works over night and makes the cha lua more bouncy and chewy, for a better consistency.

    Lan Anh: thank you so much, that's the reason why we started this blog..many parents are like yours or mine and cook from memory so it's good to have a reference and not lose these recipes.

    kitchensidecar: have fun on your adventure in Vietnam and enjoy all the great food!

    anne: we gather that you can use any baking powder. Tammy postulated that using the Alsa might be something are parents are used to because thats the baking powder found in Vietnam, introduced by the French.

  31. 31

    my spatula — February 11, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    so, so gorgeous! you two never cease to amaze me.

  32. 32

    Ba — February 11, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I've always wondered how the chả lụa is made. I will try to make some in the near future. Thanks again.

  33. 33

    autumn — February 11, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    Can I use chicken instead of pork?

  34. 34

    Ravenous Couple — February 11, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

    giao: Thank you!

    Ba: thanks and do let us know how the cha lua recipe goes for you!

    autumn: no reason why you can't substitute chicken for pork here. Do let us know how chicken cha lua goes for you!

  35. 35

    tigerfish — February 12, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    First picture looks so much like bread! ;p

  36. 36

    Kung Food Panda — February 13, 2010 @ 5:15 am

    I too am a fan of Cha Lua, but I usualy just buy those at the market or eat it at restaurants! Looking good guys!

  37. 37

    petite nyonya — February 13, 2010 @ 7:25 am

    Happy Lunar New Year to you and your family! What a great effort to make your own ham!

  38. 38

    lilyng — February 16, 2010 @ 2:07 am

    happy new year/tet

  39. 39

    Lina — February 16, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

    So glad to see this. I was wondering what the proper name for this stuff is, and I had no idea that I could make it myself so easily (or so it seems). When I have a home I'm going to try it!

  40. 40

    Anonymous — February 20, 2010 @ 7:39 am

    You should have a warning sign- bright red & flashing that this entire blog is a dangerous drool area. It's close to midnight & @#$% it! I'm starving!!

    ps. Love you guys! Never knew how to make Cha Lua- thought I have to give up my first born or something…


  41. 41

    we are never full — February 21, 2010 @ 12:39 am

    oh WOW…i'm so glad i found your blog. everything looks fabulous and mouth watering (especially this). i will be back!

  42. 42

    tina — February 22, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    i've been trying to find a recipe for this for so long! usually i just buy it pre-made but now i can make it on my own! thanks, i love your blog.

  43. 43

    Ravenous Couple — February 22, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

    emii: Thank you! Don't be a stranger though!

    we are never full: Thank you, come back often' ya hear?

    Tina: can't guarantee that i'll taste like the store…but give it a try and let us know how it goes!

  44. 44

    sweetmango — February 28, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It sounds simple and easy. Yes, I agreed our parents never write anything down a little bit of this and that. We do it now,too. (sortof)

  45. 45

    Anonymous — April 1, 2010 @ 1:24 am

    Thank you for posting this recipe. Easy to make and delicious.

  46. 46

    Ravenous Couple — April 1, 2010 @ 1:34 am

    sweetmango: the more experience you have, the more intuitive your cooking will be…but that doesn't help the beginners! 🙂

    anonymous: so glad the cha lua recipe worked for you!

  47. 47

    Ann — April 27, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

    Hello Thank you for sharing your recipes, I love cooking myself and will definitely visit your website again.
    Ann Nguyen

  48. 48

    Ravenous Couple — April 28, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    Ann: do let us know if you make something 🙂

  49. 49

    Anonymous — May 26, 2010 @ 3:47 am

    Hello Hong & Kim,
    I have tried making cha lua yesterday…but it did not turn out a good as your. My mom said maybe I read it wrong since I was using 2 bags of Alsa baking pwd and my cha lua does have a strong aroma of baking powder. I see your cooks note…still my mom said her friend only use one package for every 5lb of meat. If you could, please advice. Thanks

  50. 50

    Ravenous Couple — May 26, 2010 @ 4:35 am

    Hi Ngoc, we recently made this again but instead of steaming, we baked to make cha que…how long did you rest the mixture? It's important to rest preferably overnight. If it turns out to be too "cha't"/sharp/bitter for your taste, reduce it to one bag for every 2lbs or so…i guess it's a preference thing and a balance between how much baking powder to add depending on if you like it bouncy or more dense…but if too much then it will be "cha't". We'll test this again the next time we make cha que.

  51. 51

    Anonymous — May 28, 2010 @ 1:41 am

    Thank you so much for your quick response. I did rest the mixture overnight…I will try again and using less baking powder. Your site has many tempting recipes which will keep me very busy in the weekend. Again thank you for helping me to learn and cook our native dishes. Ngoc

  52. 52

    Anonymous — June 28, 2010 @ 2:30 am

    Hi, I was wondering if this could be done with ground turkey or chicken instead of pork. What do you think or have you ever tried it? I'm trying to see if I could make it with ground chicken and make bun moc out of it.

  53. 53

    Ravenous Couple — June 28, 2010 @ 2:39 am

    anonymous: in theory, yes it should work–bun moc with chicken sounds great!

  54. 54

    Anonymous — November 1, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    I was very skeptical about your recipe but it turned out pretty good except it tastes a bit flat. Next time I will put three table spoon of fish sauce instead of two and some msg too. Now I have a real reason to get a meat grinder for Christmas.
    Thank you from Michelle Vuong.

  55. 55

    Anonymous — January 22, 2011 @ 10:03 pm


  56. 56

    Anonymous — March 4, 2011 @ 5:01 am

    i'm really looking forward to trying this recipe, but my husband was not able to find the alsa baking powder at ranch 99 or savemart. i found it on amazon for $5.50. does that sound right for 7 "sachets?" is 1 sachet the same as one packet?×0-4oz/dp/B004NRIXHI

    btw, i made both the banh gio and pandan sticky rice yesterday (a first for both). the banh gio was really good (my husband was so impressed), but i may adjust the salt a bit. (and 4 out of my 6 kids helped wrap–fun!:)) the sticky rice in a metal steamer was a little dry, but my conical bamboo should be arriving soon! looking forward to comparing the two steamers.

  57. 57

    Anonymous — March 4, 2011 @ 6:16 am

    one more thing…is tapioca starch the same as tapioca flour?

    mom of 6 🙂

  58. 58

    Ravenous Couple — March 5, 2011 @ 6:01 am

    @anonymous: in the Asian markets, the packets or sachets are about 3 for $1 so yes, you are paying a premium for them. is there no vietnamese grocery near you residence? Glad the banh gio worked for you!

    yes, tapioca starch/flour should be the same.

  59. 59

    Anonymous — March 5, 2011 @ 7:29 am

    yeah…i thought alsa sachets from amazon seemed a little pricey. i'm really blessed to have a husband who does my grocery shopping for me, going to 3 different stores every time. (he figures it would be easier for him than for me w/ 6 kids. :)) he could not find it at ranch 99, which surprised me. (afterall, this is sj!) maybe i'll go one of these days to check again.

    btw, the lemongrass chicken was really tasty. the kids also liked the bo kho. AND they totally had fun making the mochi truffles (although they really just wanted to eat the truffles and didn't care much for the mochi.) all 3 items made today–so proud!:)

    thanks again. your blog has so inspired me. we're going to sf to have my mom-in-law show us how to make banh khuc, and then next week, when i get the alsa from amazon, i'm tackling your cha recipe. 🙂

  60. 60

    katie kwan — March 30, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    just made this recipe – steamed it for a bit longer as mine were chubbie rounds. Swiss cheese meets ham!

  61. 61

    Cha Lua- Vietnamese ham « Hungry Belly Therapy — May 2, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

    […] adapted from Ravenous Couple’s recipe […]

  62. 62

    Packie — June 3, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

    Love your recipe. I can confirmed that recipe work with chicken or turkey since I made those for either of those 3 ingredient all the time. the bounciness are actually from warping even tho baking powder and tapioca flour will help their “bounciness” and chewiness but the tighter you warp cha lua’ without it ripped during the steam/boil. As you see on tradition cha lua in Asia Market, all of them got wrap and tie it really type. When i make my Cha lua , I put on banana leaf then tin foil then plastic wrap then tie ’em up with a bunch of rubber bands. 😀

  63. 63

    Kim — June 17, 2011 @ 8:07 am

    Thanks for the recipe! It’s so important to have these recipes to pass down for generations to come. I was excited to find out that it was not so hard to make. My girls are addicted to Vietnamese ham & we hardly buy because it is so expensive and we have to drive quite a distance to get it. I also love the fact that I know what is going into it when I make it at home. I doubled the recipe so I can have some to share, but I better hurry before my girls wipe out my stash. Wrapping with the banana leaves was a little difficult because it kept tearing. I may have been trying to make it too tight – can’t stand loosely rolled foods. I threw the banana leaves in the steamer for a few minutes to soften up. It helped a little. Any suggestions for easier wrapping? Definitely prefer the banana leaf wrap over the plastic/foil wrap.

    Next recipe to try…thit kho…I have cooked this from memory & guessing at that…I have been using boston butt cut up all these yrs & used sugar for caramelization. Didnt think to cook as stew. Wondering how this will cook up in a crock pot…will let you know.

  64. 64

    The Ravenous Couple — June 17, 2011 @ 11:03 am

    Hi Kim, thank you for the feedback! When making lots we just forego banana leaves and use plastic wrap, really easy to get tight rolls that way. If you still want essense of banana leaf, you can still put it under the plastic wrap. Boston butt would work as well, it’s still part of the shoulder..but yes, the fresh coconut juice makes a world of difference. No reason not to think it wouldn’t work in a crock pot. Do let us know how it goes and post photos on our FB page!

  65. 65

    Cha Oc Vietnamese Ham with Periwinkle Snails — June 18, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    […] the Vietnamese food lexicon, it’s hard to keep track, even for us.  From a simple pork paste giò sống, the Vietnamese have elevated this humble mixture into variety of “hams,” if you will, […]

  66. 66

    alohaspirit — June 18, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    Hi! Thank you for sharing your recipe! My mom tried making Cha lua but she said it turned out bo, khong co dai. Do you why? Thank you!

  67. 67

    The Ravenous Couple — June 21, 2011 @ 6:36 am

    the texture can sometimes be tricky. use the freshest possible. keep everything cold and keep any portions you’re not mixing in the fridge, and for more bouncier texture, increase ratio of baking powder, up to 1 bag of baking powder for 1 lb meat. hope that helps!

  68. 68

    Chả ốc Vietnamese Ham with Periwinkle — June 21, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

    […] of chả in the Vietnamese food lexicon, it’s hard to keep track. From a simple pork paste giò sống, the Vietnamese have elevated this humble mixture into variety of “hams,” if you will, with […]

  69. 69

    Minh — June 22, 2011 @ 10:08 am

    I tried it with yeast instead of baking powder. Baking Powder isn’t good for you. Very good fluffy firm results.

  70. 70

    Samantha — June 25, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    I couldn’t find any single acting baking powder in my area to save my life so I replaced it with a combo of baking soda and lime juice. It turned out really juicy and delicious although, not as much of a consistent firm texture as store bought cha lua. I think I didn’t ground my pork enough for it be so smooth though.

  71. 71

    reclaiming my heritage with banh nam & cha lua « le blog de tranny — July 12, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    […] especially the part where I grind the gelatinous pork mixture into a paste. I pretty much followed this recipe to a T, and even deep-fried one of them to make cha chien, which I figured would appeal more to my […]

  72. 72

    Bao — July 30, 2011 @ 6:35 am

    Samantha said: I think I didn’t ground my pork enough for it be so smooth though.
    We are a family of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and all of that. We cannot be without cha lua or cha chien either. So we substitute the pork by using 2 lbs of ground chicken (store ground chicken). You need some strong arms to stir the ground chicken. Instead of 1 cup of water, we only use 1/2 cup of water. I did try following your recipe of 1 cup of water, the chicken cha lua came out mushy softy.
    Alsa or good old baking powder is fine. Tapioca starch or corn starn or potato starch is also fine. I have used them all and found no difference. May be I am too easy ????
    May I add: since this recipe for gio song (uncooked paste) can be subsequently used in which ever way you want, I have add co^’m (green young sticky sweet rice). Cha com must have co^’m on the inside, mix in with the gio song before cooking it, NOT just outside. This is a delicacy that I later found out that only the northern Vietnamese folks, pre-1954, would know about. Whoever can get hold of co^’m, try it.

  73. 73

    Charlie — August 17, 2011 @ 5:19 am


    How in the world do you get it to this consistency?
    I have been trying to get ground meat to this consistency for years for a german dish called fleishkase.
    I have continually put it through the grinder on fine, through a ricer, a food processor, everything I could think of and still cannot get this consistency.

    I would really appreciate your advice.

  74. 74

    Thao B — August 24, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    I think I will try with chicken. Love your blogs stunning images.

  75. 75

    Thao — August 26, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    My chicken ham was delicious, I had also cooked Ca Kho it was very nice too. Banh Pate So is next on my list. Thank you for inspiring me to cook more Vietnamese dishes for my family. I guess this is my way to introduce my English husband and our little daughter to Vietnamese culture. Best wishes from UK

  76. 76

    The Ravenous Couple — August 27, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

    thank you so much for letting us know, so glad you’re inspired and keep on cooking 🙂

  77. 77

    Thao B — August 28, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    I think I can add Chicken Ham to my signature dish list along with Danish roast belly of pork with caramelized potatoes ( Fleaskesteg med brunede kartofler), slow roasted leg of lamb in red wine with garlic mashed potatoand and linguine with clams
    Growing up in Denmark and now living in the UK I feel more confident in cooking Italian, Danish and English but when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine I feel a lillte bit lost.
    But with your website I have successfully cooked 3 lovely meals to my family.

  78. 78

    Bobby — September 8, 2011 @ 9:10 am

    The vietnamese coworkers were bringing this ham to use on bagels and the stuff is so yum with some chiles in a soy sauce topped with some cilantro. Now with your web site and the receipe I will try making it at home.

  79. 79

    Anh — September 26, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    This was the biggest test so far for me when it comes to Ravenous Couple recipe…”Did they make it so that it was Dummy-proof for me?!” YES, YOU GUYS DID!!! I steamed 4 decent sized “logs” while my kids were in school and the look on their faces when I told them what they were getting for snacks!! You guys are fantastic!

  80. 80

    TonyL — October 1, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    My kids love this stuff. I searched the web and found your recipe on your web site. Followed the recipe as it is but I used loaf pans lined with banana leaves then steamed it 40 minutes. I came out very good. Thanks. Next time I’ll try Banh Coun.

  81. 81

    Pork: The Vietnamese Way — October 19, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

    […] sườn (ribs) are great for sườn xào chua ngọt, the loin and tenderloin is great for making giò sống and chả lụa. The má (cheek), mỏ (snout), tai (ears) and lưỡi (tongue) are all used for headcheese. The […]

  82. 82

    Be — October 25, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    I saw your recipe on a different site but your name was not mentioned. You may want to check it out.

  83. 83

    Miss Kimbers @ Fruit Salad and Mixed Veg — November 7, 2011 @ 2:12 am

    I had Cha Lua for the first time a week ago with some Bánh cuốn. It was so yummy:) I would like to give this a go. I may just make half the amount to see how I go first and then make more if it turns out well.
    Now to look around your blog further:)
    Have a good day:)

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    Michelle — November 25, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    I added a little more fish sauce and it turned out delicious. Thank you for the recipe.


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    sawhster — January 1, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    I used regular baking powder and it turned out exactly like the kind I buy at the Asian supermarket (2 packs of Alsa probably contains 5 teaspoons of powder; I used 4 teaspoons of regular baking powder)! Very happy with the results. Totally recommend if you are trying to achieve a similar taste.

    However, I did note that during the steaming process, it inflated to about twice its size. After cooling and being refrigerated, it deflated to its original size. I wonder if it would have been more stable if using the Alsa brand.

    I did add a little more fish sauce since other commentors had done so, but I think the fish sauce became overpowering so I would stick with the original recipe (especially if you plan to eat the ham later with Maggi and other items).

    After all was said and done, I think 2 lbs of meat will produce 4 round logs about 4 inches long and 2 inches in diameter, and took about 30 minutes to steam. Hope that helps!

  86. 86

    Fraqnk Mosher — January 5, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    Made this today and we loved it!! Only had a medium pork tenderloin, and did not see any “bubling” when adding the baking powder to the water tapioca mixture. For a moment, I thought perhaps I should be using baking Soda, but no, the receipe turned out great, steamed up perfectly on our steamer basket, and tasted even better as suggested, when fried! Great recipe!! Thank you.

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    Happy new years eve! « PaleYo! — January 22, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    […] could only find the vegetarian version so I bought some cha lua to eat it with. It was well worth […]

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    hong nguyen — March 18, 2012 @ 1:05 am

    Hi, thanks so much for posting and sharing your recipe with us. Looking at your macarons pictures makes my daughter salivates. She just had some of those at Brodard last week, the taro and coffee ones.
    I tried the recipe for cha lua last week, and I must have made a mistake some how, since my cha lua comes out very soft, not firm like it should be. My mother (make cha lua many times before when we first came here) told me I should have my meat frozen overnight then use food processor to grind till the meat is pink then wrap and steam. Please advise me on how to fix my mistake. Thanks

  89. 89

    Aliette de Bodard » Blog Archive » Bun tau xao cha chien cai bac thao: bean threads with Chinese cabbage and cha chien — March 21, 2012 @ 9:07 am

    […] chả chiên/chả lụa, […]

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    30 Before 30 – A Bucket List | Petit Plat — March 24, 2012 @ 8:17 am

    […] Cha Lua […]

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    Filmore — April 9, 2012 @ 1:11 am

    Okay, you’ve sold me. I’m gonna try this out as soon as I can get my hands on the ingredients (can you believe 1lb cha lua stick cost $10 in Japan?!). Keep up the good work!

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    Bun Bo Hue Recipe « Stay in Saigon ( — April 17, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

    […] bo hue noodles, cooked al dente according to directions and drained precooked pork blood cha hue or cha lua sliced cabbage sliced banana blossom (see this post on how to prepare) rau ram bean sprouts fine […]

  93. 93

    jackie — May 11, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    Are there alternative ways to cooking the cha lua? Can you steam it?

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    hoanng hung — July 7, 2012 @ 2:03 am

    you are veey exellent cookers

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    Joy — September 7, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe 🙂 I’ve always wondered how it was made. I already got the mixture in the fridge so crossing my fingers that it turn out like yours.

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    BAO — September 21, 2012 @ 10:06 am

    I have been using store ground, pre-ground chicken instead of pork. Use a fork or spoon to mash the chicken. There are many problems with grinding pork or chicken: 1) cleaning the food processor is a pain, 2) the meat must stay cool during the grinding process otherwise the cha lua will come out soft (the problem that hong nguyen march 18, 2012 encountered). Apparently chicken is not as dense or tough as pork, so I only use 1/2 cup of water. I follow all the rest of ingredients. Chicken has less fat and cholesterol ;-))

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    Cha Hue – Hue Style Vietnamese Ham — January 28, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

    […] call it their own. And it’s no different with chả Huế, a relative unknowned compared with chả lụa. This ham originates from Huế, the ancestral capital of Vietnam and is often eaten as a snack […]

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    Judy L. — February 14, 2013 @ 9:40 am

    I can’t wait to make this! BUT it should be noted that Alsa baking powder has WHEAT in it! I searched everywhere for it, and was so excited to find it…but then read the ingredients…wheat. 🙁 So sadly, as a celiac I can’t use it. Also, (for other readers) please be aware of this if cooking for a gluten sensitive/allergic person. They may assume that baking powder is fine, so be sure to tell them. I sure hope the other brand works for me.

    I just bought a meat grinder to grind my own meat. So I think putting it through the fine plate a couple of times should do the trick…

    Question: you mentioned this freezes well. Do you freeze it (in the banana leaf) after cooking or before?

    Thanks SO much for all the great recipes!

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    Thuy Tien — March 7, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

    I just cannot get over the fact that I just made a batch of PERFECT cha lua and cha hue!!! Thank you!!! 🙂

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    The Ravenous Couple — March 11, 2013 @ 8:32 am

    wow, great job so glad for the feedback!

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    Official "Where can I buy this locally?" Thread - Page 176 - Vancouver's Top Classifieds and Automotive Forum - — March 12, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    […] ^^^ make your own ham? Cha Lua Vietnamese Ham Recipe […]

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    Stephanie Dang — March 28, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    Hi hi!! Ive been following your blog since last year and have tried many of your recipes which I love!! Ive always tried making cha lua many times and this is the 1st recipe where the taste is just perfect! I’ve learn to cook many Viet dishes through your site so I hope and pray that you would continue to bless us!! 🙂

    Anyways- I do have a question on the cha lua- my cha lua- is it suppose to be soft? If so- do you know how I can make the cha lua more firm like the ones at the store? Thank you in advance!!

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    The Ravenous Couple — March 28, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    thanks for following us and so glad to hear the recipes are working out for you. as for the you mean density of the cha lua? wrapping it very tightly can make it more dense?

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    Stephanie Dang — March 28, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    Thank you for such a fast response!!

    I’m not sure if its density- I just prefer the cha lua to be a little harder to the touch (I guess?)… Like not as soft and delicate when slicing… I love the taste but the softness of it reminds me of cha tom (chien).. I’m not sure if that helped, hehe, I don’t really know how else to explain it. 🙁

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    - Bun Bo Hue Recipe — April 23, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

    […] hue noodles, cooked al dente according to directions and drained precooked pork blood cha hue or cha lua sliced cabbage sliced banana blossom (see this post on how to prepare) rau ram bean sprouts fine […]

  106. 106

    Hien — June 20, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    Ravenous…. Thank you for the cha lua recipe. I have made this several times before with various recipes and yours is the best thus far… For my taste, I did increase the amount of fish sauce to 3 tbsp and threw in some MSG as well. I think this recipe would work with beef for bo vien too.

    Cha lua is not difficult to make, but for any emulsified food products such as hot dogs, and cha, three key factors are necessary for it to be successful.

    First, there has to be a good amount of fat/meat ratio… Pre-grounded pork purchase at the markets usually have sufficient fat content. I use pork butt or pork picnic (sp ?) when I grind my own.

    Second, the meat should be fresh, not frozen as the fat breaks down in the freezer…

    Third, when grinding meat in food processor, the meat should be very cold so that the fat emulsifies with the meat. (I put mine in the freezer for about 30-45 min before processing).. If not cold, the finished product after cooking becomes chalky like texture instead of smooth and springy…

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    The Ravenous Couple — July 8, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    thanks for the feed back and tips!

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    Danni — July 6, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    Thanks for the recipe, I followed it exactly and it came out as it should except the taste was a bit bland and will use more fish sauce/salt next time.

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    Cha Lua (Steamed Pork Rolls) | From Belly to Bacon — July 17, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

    […] Cha Lua (Steamed Pork Rolls) Framework for recipe found here […]

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    Harms — August 14, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

    Hello, I made this recipe the first time and it came out beautiful. The second time.. Not quite.. It was kind of grainy and chalky. Help ?!? 🙁

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    The Ravenous Couple — August 17, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    freshness of meat is important, also make sure keep meat cold

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    Cha Lua- Vietnamese ham | Plain Jane In Recess — October 13, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    […] adapted from Ravenous Couple’s recipe […]

  113. 113

    Jordan — December 22, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

    As someone relatively new to cooking Vietnamese food, I loved how this recipe turned out. I followed your recipe aside from adding peppercorns and more fish sauce to my taste. I also went with my gut and used wheat starch, which produced a wonderfully bouncy and light texture. While I am not adept at wrapping cha lua, and my results were to put it nicely, “horribly misshapen” this was absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for your recipe.

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    The Ravenous Couple — December 25, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

    so glad it turned it and great improvisation!

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    Jordan — December 25, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

    I heard about the pepper used in Hue style cha lua, and other bloggers liked it as well. I bought banana leaves for my next shot, I feel this may help contain the meat a bit better, though it will require more skill. It will be perfect just as soon as I can get the shape right. One of these days I’ll try this with really finely ground beef shank.

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    Patou — January 20, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

    Thank you for the cha lua’s recipe, the taste is the closest I have ever come to the one my grand-mother made. I have use it several time and it always came great. Tet is around the corner… Happy Tet.

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    Patou — January 21, 2014 @ 10:28 am

    When can you eat the cha lua? Do you let it cool down and leave in refrigerator for a while before using it? Cannot remember this detail. Thank you.

  118. 118

    pho | Salty Sour Sweet Inc. — February 20, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

    […] hue noodles, cooked al dente according to directions and drained precooked pork blood cha hue or cha lua sliced cabbage sliced banana blossom (see this post on how to prepare) rau ram bean sprouts fine […]

  119. 119

    Chris — March 22, 2014 @ 7:37 am

    I was born and grew up in New Caledonia, south pacific french oversea territory. I now live in Paris. The tiny population of New Caledonia has something unique in the francosphere. People who settled in this island inhabited by the Kanak, freely or were forced to came from different countries such as France & other european countries, Algeria, Japan, Indonesia, Indochina, China, Pacific Islands (French Polynesia, Wallis & Futuna Islands, Vanuatu) to name a few. As a child, I used to eat what we call there pâté vietnamien, french for gio lua at the city market in Nouméa with nuoc mâm, french for… 😉 Of course, these days are over, no white sand beaches in town, no stalls at the market where you can buy at once indonesian meals, vietnamese delights, pacific islands vegetables and french pastries. Yeah, there are asian groceries though… I’m grateful to both of you for the recipe of one of my Proust’s madeleine. Spring is there now, I need to find my place on the banks of the Seine river to enjoy life with friends while eating my homemade pâté vietnamien with nuoc mam, garlic and red chillies. Thank you, kisses from Paris (and Nouméa).

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    The Ravenous Couple — March 23, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

    thanks for the great story, we can almost imagine the beautiful scenary you described!

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    Eat. Pork. Love. | The Hapa How To — April 14, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

    […] Cha Lua Vietnamese Ham Recipe […]

  122. 122

    Gloria — April 15, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    Wonderful recipe. I have made this recipe, I can’t even count how many times over! I even bought a bigger food processor. Ok, I needed a new one, but I did buy it with this recipe in mind. (-; I had to order my alsa baking powder on line, however, no matter, I was sticking w/your mom’s instructions. I don’t know the difference between clabber girl or any other BkSda as this is the only one I’ve used too. I’ve made it w/Banana leaves and with just w/plastic and a combination of both since my banana leaves were a bit fussy once. Settled on ALWAYS using banana leaves as the flavor it imparts is, is, is … just YUMMY! Thank you! Your mom’s recipe is in “My Favorites!”

  123. 123

    Isabella Tran — April 22, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    Hi guys. Congratulation on the up-coming arrival of the new baby. I am so happy for you both. I have three boys (12, 10 & 8) and I love every moment of being a parent though some day I want peace and quiet but when I don’t hear their voices, I know I miss them dearly. Rather have them here driving me crazy then crying my heart out when they are not here. Do you know if you are going to have a girl or boy yet? Back to the question. I have a question to ask you regarding making cha lua. Why is it in this recipe, you are using tapioca starch but in cha hue, you are using potato starch? Is there a difference to consistency or texture of cha lua and cha hue?

  124. 124

    The Ravenous Couple — April 23, 2014 @ 11:54 am

    thanks for the advice! Adding potato starch is a relatively new thing my mom uses now instead of the tapioca and she prefers it better now! both will work but she prefers the potato starch.

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    TD — April 23, 2014 @ 12:09 am

    Food is my language of love and this blog is one of my dictionaries. Everything I have tried on here has been spot on. As is this recipe. Finally got myself a Cuisinart. Made the nem chua..still curing. We’ll see. 🙂 This recipe is so good I will never need to go to the store for my cha again. One comment, my fried cha expands quite a bit while cooking but also then shrivels quite a bit as it cools. Do I need to lower the amount of the baking powder? I followed the recipe exactly as I always do the first time around. Btw, congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy. I have 3 and cannot imagine life without them. Thank you for sharing your love of VN food and your family stories. Makes me wished I had time to learn more from my mother.

  126. 126

    Michael — June 17, 2014 @ 8:57 am

    Hi! I read through a lot of articles and they mentioned a good Cha Lua has a fine white colour, is firm, and has a perfumed and sweetish taste. What ingredient would turn or make the pork meat to a white color?

  127. 127

    The Ravenous Couple — June 17, 2014 @ 9:36 am

    you need good quality fresh lean pork, such as pork loin

  128. 128

    Michael — June 17, 2014 @ 10:06 am

    I used good loin pork, but after very fine grind by adding ice and the ingredients, it’s still reddish. Not even comes close as white as I’ve seen on youtube. I noticed they put some kind of white ingredient to make it white. I don’t think it is the powders. It is something white and the size is about 1/4 of the pork meat. Not sure what that is.

  129. 129

    MyLinh — October 16, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

    Hello, I’m sure if you’re aware but another blog has posted your exact post (words and pictures wise) and made it look like their own. There is even a picture with your watermark on it. It’s

  130. 130

    The Ravenous Couple — October 24, 2014 @ 9:46 am

    yes, its possible to stop but not always worth our time! thanks though!

  131. 131

    reclaiming my heritage with banh nam & cha lua | ausplendor! — February 7, 2015 @ 10:41 am

    […] especially the part where I grind the gelatinous pork mixture into a paste. I pretty much followed this recipe to a T, and even deep-fried one of them to make cha chien, which I figured would appeal more to my […]

  132. 132

    Cha Lua | Tra Vinh Networks — March 11, 2015 @ 2:09 pm

    […] Recipe – from theravenouscouple […]

  133. 133

    Heidi — June 1, 2015 @ 8:56 am

    I followed your recipe exactly. My product’s appearance looks good, seasoning was right but texture was soft it didn’t have a crunchy bite. What I am trying to say is the texture was mushy. Please advise. Thank you

  134. 134

    Trinity — August 21, 2015 @ 8:40 am

    Hello, I can’t wait to try this. But question, in Vietnam they sell alot of beef cha lua. I try not to eat tpo much pork. Well, I’m no chef when it comes to figuring out recipes. But would you think I can use your recipe but just use beef? And if so, what ground beef do you suggest? 85%lean? Or?

    Btw thanks for your recipes, I’ve tried plenty now that im trying to cook.


  135. 135

    The Ravenous Couple — August 22, 2015 @ 11:58 am

    in general you want to use the leanest possible beef. even for pork the best cut is the loin which is quite lean…but the process is the same for beef or pork. dill is commonly added in beef. good luck!

  136. 136

    themindstream — September 1, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

    I came across this by random browsing and I was curious about the use of baking powder, especially the specific brand of single acting powder. I know that putting the baking powder in water first will cause the baking soda and the acid in the baking powder to react (double acting powder has a second acid which only reacts when you add heat, i.e. baking). The usual reason to use baking soda is to leven stuff with the carbon dioxide the reaction produces but adding it to the water first means there’s nothing to trap the bubbles when it foams up like there would be in a batter.

    Well turns out the “scientific search engine” Wolfram Alpha can solve chemistry equations. Looking up the ingredient list for Alsa baking powder reveals the acid they use is sodium acid pyrophosphate; plugging that into the equation solver with sodium bicarbonate reveals that one of the leftover products of the chemical reaction is (tetra)sodium pyrophosphate, a salt and common food additive that is used to flavor things like canned seafood and chicken nuggets.

    So, other brands of baking sode should work *if* they have the same ingredients as the Alsa brand. Most double acting baking powders in the US use sodium aluminum sulfate and calcium phosphate, though some baking powders labeled “alumium free” use sodium acid pyrophosphate – aluminum has a flavor that is usually not noticeable but gives an off flavor to subtle-flavored products like crackers.

  137. 137

    The Ravenous Couple — September 11, 2015 @ 10:11 am

    thanks for the research!

  138. 138

    reclaiming my heritage with banh nam & cha lua - ausplendor — September 19, 2015 @ 4:57 am

    […] especially the part where I grind the gelatinous pork mixture into a paste. I pretty much followed this recipe to a T, and even deep-fried one of them to make cha chien, which I figured would appeal more to my […]

  139. 139

    Ravenous My Idea Of Fast Food | burgers fast food fans — December 31, 2015 @ 10:21 pm

    […] Cha Lua Vietnamese Ham Recipe – Ravenous Couple – Cha lua or gio lua (Vietnamese ham/sausage) is another common item on the traditional Tet menu. As we mention, Tet is a time for families to come together and … […]

  140. 140

    Tiến Thành — September 6, 2016 @ 11:24 pm

    Vâng nếu bạn đã đến Việt Nam thì chắc hẳn cũng đã thưởng thức rất nhiều món như : chả lụa, phở bò, bánh cuốn…những món rất đặc sắc, rất ngon.. mà Việt Nam chúng tôi có được. Bên cạnh đó chúng tôi cũng còn rất nhiều những thứ đặc biệt khác như: cong ty in an quang cao uy tín, chất lượng, cong ty thiet ke noi that shop điện thoại, đống hồ, thời trang…chuyen nghiệp…

  141. 141

    Tiến Thành — September 6, 2016 @ 11:29 pm

    Well, if you went to Vietnam then surely has a lot to enjoy dishes such as pork bologna, beef noodle soup, rolls … the dishes are excellent, very good .. that Vietnam we get. Besides we are also a lot of special features such as cong ty in an quang cao reputation, quality, thiet ke shop phone shop, watches, fashion … professional …

  142. 142

    Steve — November 2, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

    Hello. I am not familiar with Vietnamese food but this recipe and the variations reader have suggested is very interesting.
    Where can I buy Cha Lua? I live in Bakersfield. There are no Asian stores that sell Cha Lua here in my area. Thanks!!

  143. 143

    Quang — August 19, 2018 @ 12:36 am

    Hi – The recipe doesn’t mention when to add the baking powder and water. I assume the baking powder gets added at the same time as the potato starch, right? Is the water used for steaming or does it get added to the pork along with everything else? Please advise. Thank you!

  144. 144

    The Ravenous Couple — August 31, 2018 @ 7:22 pm

    yes, same time, make a slurry of the starch and baking powder

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