Cha Que Vietnamese Cinnamon Pork Pate

cha que

My parents visited recently over the holidays (This post took a lot longer then we expected, but never late then never! ) and did some baking.  But to mom, baking is much more savory endeavor. She doesn’t have a sweet tooth and I don’t think she ever baked a cake or cookie before. Not even for our birthdays.  We didn’t have a glass of milk and cookies for after school snacks like our American counterparts, in fact our typical after school snack would be a warm banh day with a slab of freshly baked chả quế, a baked cinnamon laced porkv chả. I would come home to a house smelling of freshly baked pork and cinnamon. Totally weird sounding, right?  But I didn’t care back then, because the chả quế she made was absolutely delicious to come home to and I don’t think I missed out on chocolate chip cookies.

cha que

The process for making chả quế is almost identical to chả lua. It starts with slurry of water, potato starch, and baking powder, add to that finely ground pork. Mix, chill, and grind some more with plenty of cinnamon and bake. Whereas chả lua is wrapped and steamed, chả quế is baked which results in a golden brown, crinkly, chewy crust.

cha que

Slice it up and stuff in baguettes for banh mi, sandwiched in banh day, with sticky rice, or snack on it alone.  The combination of pork and cinnamon is a special treat. When making something specialized like chả, we always make plenty of it because it’s easy to freeze but also very easy to give away to friends and family so don’t be daunted by the large portion size.  But feel free to divide the recipe in half. The ratio of ingredients is important but unlike baking a cake, not as crucial. Also, you can adjust the level of saltiness as well strength of cinnamon to your taste. Also, use a good quality cinnamon. If it’s been sitting in your pantry for years, it’s most likely have lost much of it’s aroma and flavor.

cha que



Cha Que Vietnamese Cinnamon Pork Pate

Feel free to divide the recipe in half. The ratio of ingredients is important but unlike baking a cake, not as crucial. Also, you can adjust the level of saltiness as well strength of cinnamon to your taste. Also, use a good fresh quality cinnamon. If it's been sitting in your pantry for years, it's most likely have lost much of it's aroma and flavor.


10 lbs ground pork loin
12 oz potato starch
2 tbs salt
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs fish sauce
7 cups water

10 packets of Alsa baking powder
5 ts of ground cinnamon (adjust to taste)
Multiple cookie sheets
Pam or neutral oil


If you're daunted by working with this large volume, divide recipe in half. Have your local butcher grind the pork loin at least 2-3 times. Add the ground pork, potato starch, salt, sugar, fish sauce in large mixing bowl. Add about 6 cups of water to the mixture, save the remaining 1 cup. To that, dissolve the Alsa baking powder and combine with the pork mixture and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night, and not more than one day.

The following day, you will need to combine cinnamon to the mixture and bake. We also process the mixture with a food processor one more time to make sure it has a smooth consistency. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets with Pam or neutral oil. Working in batches (depending on the capacity of your food processor .ie 8 cups, 14 cups etc and avoid overloading your food processor) Add approximately 1 ts of cinnamon for every 2 cups of pork mixture and give a few quick pulses to thoroughly combine the cinnamon. At this point, take a teaspoon or so of the mixture and microwave for about 30s and taste. Adjust seasoning such as cinnamon or salt if needed. Continue until all the ground pork has been processed with cinnamon.

Using a wet rubber spatula, spoon onto the greased cookie sheet from edge to edge and make an even layer of pork paste about 3/4" thick. Use multiple baking sheets as necessary. Don't worry about going up to the edges because when it bakes, it will pull away. When baking sheet is covered entirely, use a wet spatula or wet hand, smooth out the top layer of the pork mixture. Bake at 350 degrees. AFter 10 or 15 minutes, the top layer of the pork will start to form a dull light brown skin. At this point, open the oven and carefully pierce the surface of the pork randomly with a fork to allow some of the trapped air to escape. Continue to cook until it has a golden brown crust. Remove and allow to cool before slicing.

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17 Responses to “Cha Que Vietnamese Cinnamon Pork Pate”

  1. 1

    Susan — March 25, 2014 @ 7:55 am

    How much baking powder is 10 packets?

  2. 2

    The Ravenous Couple — March 26, 2014 @ 8:33 am

    each packet of Alsa baking powder is 11 grams

  3. 3 — March 25, 2014 @ 11:56 am

    Do u deliver worldwide ? \ (^_^) /

  4. 4

    Isabella Tran — March 26, 2014 @ 6:11 am

    Hi guys,

    If I don’t have Alsa baking powder, can I use other baking powder instead? If yes, how much should I be using for that will equal to your 10 packets of Alsa baking powder? Please email me back. Thank you.

  5. 5

    The Ravenous Couple — March 26, 2014 @ 8:35 am

    you can substitute regular baking powder. each packet is 11 grams, so about 100 grams

  6. 6

    Lisa | Je suis alimentageuse — March 26, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

    Oh man homemade cha que you’re so luckyyyy O_O. That’s one of the things I miss most as a vegan. Eating cha lua just as a snack or bun cha gio… or on banh mi. I’ll have to try something with wheat germ to get a similar texture haha. Cha chay made with tofu is… bleh but maybe I can simulate the sweetness of pork with some wheat germ seitan =)

    Thank you for sharing this great recipe and sharing your childhood memories!

  7. 7

    emily — March 29, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

    Flagged and bookmarked! Looks more do-able than Cha Lau- can’t wrap anything in banana leaves if my life depended on it! 😛 Thanks for posting this- since I’ve moved out of OC years ago, am craving my VN foodie roots. That and a TINY roll of Cha Lau comes at a ridiculous price of $7!

  8. 8

    Deirdra Strangio — April 17, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

    Can you or have you ever frozen these?

  9. 9

    The Ravenous Couple — April 18, 2014 @ 11:01 am

    yes! they freeze well, especially if you have a vacuum sealer.

  10. 10

    chả quế vietnamese pork pate - The Ravenous Couple - Celebrity Chefs TV | Celebrity Chefs TV — May 1, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

    […] chả quế vietnamese pork pate – The Ravenous Couple […]

  11. 11

    Ethnic Food — August 6, 2014 @ 2:54 am

    This look delectable. Thanks for this wonderful posty.

  12. 12

    Diem — August 20, 2014 @ 6:00 am

    Love your site and numerous detail and beautiful recipes. I am interested in Cha Bo` (Beef). Do you have recipe for that. I think beef and thi la` are the main ingredients.


  13. 13

    Thuy Anh — October 23, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    I think you’ve used kinda too much baking powder, I normally use 1 pkg of Alsa baking powder per 2 lbs of meat (similar likes your Nem Nuong recipe) and my Cha Que always turn out great. :)
    For Cha? Bo`, use the same recipe like cha que, except instead of cinnamon use chopped Thi` La` + pepper or peppercorn
    steam instead of bake

  14. 14

    Thuy Anh — October 23, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

    sorry, need to add a little more on the Cha? Bo`,
    I would shape the meat to round patties about 3-4 ” diameter, and 1″ thick, wrap with foil before steam the patties for 20-25 minutes.
    Before eating, just fry them both sides

  15. 15

    Tammie — April 9, 2015 @ 10:08 am

    Hi — Love your recipes. Your photography looks amazing! :) I’d like to try making Cha, but I can’t find Alsa baking powder anywhere. Is it possible to substitute Alsa baking powder with regular or Rumford baking powder? Thanks!

  16. 16

    The Ravenous Couple — April 10, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

    alsa is sold online as well, but having said that, we’ve had readers substitute and it work out alright!

  17. 17

    Tammie — April 10, 2015 @ 3:36 pm

    Thank you for your reply :) Off to make cha….

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