Cơm tấm, or broken rice, is a Vietnamese dish made from rice with fractured rice grains. Tấm refers to the broken rice grains, whilecơm refers to cooked rice. Also known as Cơm tấm Sài Gòn (Saigon-style broken rice), particularly served in southern Vietnam, in Saigon.
It is usually served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish bì (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. The rice and meat are served with various greens and pickled vegetables, along with a prawn paste cake, trứng hấp (steamed egg), and grilled prawns. Typically, restaurants will serve this popular combination rice plate with a small bowl of nước chấm, as well as a small bowl of soup broth (canh) with garlic chives (to cleanse the throat). The dish cơm tấm bì comes with a chả trứng egg meatloaf.
The main ingredient, broken rice, is a traditionally cheaper grade of rice produced by damage in milling. It is mainly used as a food industry ingredient in America and Europe, but in West Africa and South East Asia is used for human consumption. Broken rice has a lower fiber and nutrient content, but generally has a similar energy content to intact rice.
My all time favorite, but today “cơm tấm” is quite different and to be honest, I don’t like it as before. Cơm tấm An Dương Vương or Kiều Giang are far from the best, too commercial! They make so many dishes to go with broken rice and by somehow it makes the broken rice lost the traditional taste as in the old days: broken rice with pork skin (cơm tấm bì) or egg cake (chả trứng)! But even saying so, I still can enjoy good cơm tấm at different places: simpler but more original! To me, most important for broken rice is the rice itself and fish sauce, flavorful rice and a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, a little bit spicy fish sauce and by the way don’t forget to top broken rice with special minced green onion stirred in the oil (mỡ hành)!