There are so many types of chả in 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, with the most common being chả lụa, found in many banh mi, and to a lessor but still well known chả Huế, chả que, and finally chả ốc. Other Vietnamese foods include the term chả in it as well, such as chả giò—Vietnamese egg rolls, simply because chả giò often contains a ground pork filling. As previously mentioned, all these chả products are derivatives of giò sống, the multi-purpose pork paste that’s easy to make at home, or bought in most Asian groceries. One of these days we’ll have a recipe for all varieties of chả we listed, but for now we want to feature what’s most likely the least known, chả ốc.
What we love about this Northern Vietnamese snack is the texture and fragrance. Small bits of chewy periwinkle or conch adds a great texture to what’s normally smooth bologne like texture of pork. Pork and Periwinkle, sounds like a name of hip new restaurant doesn’t it? You can find cooked periwinkle or conch in the frozen section of your Asian grocer as well. But that’s not all folks, add to that fragrant lemongrass and citrus scent of kaffir lime leaves, it’s easily the most aromatic and texturally interesting type of chả of all.
Just like chả lụa which can be eatened steamed or fried, chả ốc is also often skewered and fried, a great snack on the street corners of Vietnam or now, in your own kitchen! It’s so simple to make and here’s a short video on how you make chả ốc and roll it together:
Chả ốc Vietnamese Ham with Periwinkle
Yield: About 15 rolls 3-4 inch long
1 lb pork paste (giò sống )
1/2 cup cooked periwinkle or conch, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely minced lemongrass (only the white thicker end)
2 tbs minced kaffir lime leaves
2 ts fish sauce
Banana leaves, cut roughly 4 x 2 inch rectangles
Aluminum foil, roughly 4 inch wide
In mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Lay banana leaf on one side of aluminum foil and place about 2 tbs of the mixture onto the banana leaf. Mold the mixture into a log and roll tightly roughly, dime size thickness. Seal the ends one at a time by twisting the foil.
Bring a steamer to boil. Add the uncooked cha oc into the steamer tray and steam about 10-12 minutes. Enjoy as a snack hot or cold, or pan fried with touch of oil until golden brown.
Cooks note: Giò sống , uncooked pork paste can be purchased in the refrigerated or frozen section of most Asian markets--we like the brand with the laughing pig. It's typically already seasoned so we account for that by adding only 2 ts of fish sauce, but check the particular brand.
This is our entry to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event to celebrate Vietnamese cuisine created by Anh of Food Lovers Journey and ourselves! This month, Delicious Vietnam is hosted by Angry Asian Creations. Please submit your posts to Lan at angryasiancreations[at]gmail.com by July 10, 2011.