Brunch is a big deal everywhere. In recent years, it’s become more of an event than a mash up of lunch and dinner. In Vietnamese culture, it’s no surprise that we have different ideas on what should be on a brunch menu. One dish that I’ve grown used to having not only for brunch but also for other meals is com suon. Com suon is a really popular rice dish in Vietnamese cuisine. It has lemongrass pork chops, broken rice, fresh vegetables, pickled vegetables, and a fried egg, all served on one plate.
What is Com Suon?
Com is the Vietnamese word for rice. Rice is an important ingredient in Vietnam. Nearly every dish in Vietnamese cuisine involves rice in some way. One of the most common dishes involving rice is com tam. This is a dish made with broken rice grains instead of normal long grain rice. Broken rice is rice that has been damaged during harvest or production. In the past, broken rice was hard to sell, so farmers used to throw it away or use it as animal feed. Eventually, farmers and poor families started consuming it because it was cheaper than normal rice.
A plate of com tam has a protein, pickled vegetables like picked daikon or picked carrots, slices of cucumber and/or tomatoes, sometimes cha trung hap, and of course a side of nuoc cham for dipping! There are a variety of com tam dishes. There’s Com Ga (rice plate with lemongrass chicken), Com Tom Cang Rim (rice plate with jumbo shrimp), and of course Com Suon Nuong (rice plate with grilled pork chops).
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
Lemongrass pork chops
- Pork chops – I used bone in pork chops for this recipe. You can also use pork chops without the bone, but I find that the bone helps give the meat better flavor.
- Soy sauce – Adds umami flavor and color to the pork chop. For a gluten free option, use tamari.
- Fish sauce – Adds umami flavor to to the pork chop. Any kind of fish sauce should work for this recipe.
- Brown sugar – I used dark brown sugar to add sweetness and color to the pork chop. You can also use light brown sugar. If you don’t want to use sugar, I would recommend substituting with another tablespoon of honey.
- Honey – Adds sweetness to the pork chop.
- Oyster sauce – Oyster sauce adds umami flavor and color to the pork chops. If you can’t find oyster sauce, I would leave it out.
- Vegetable oil – Helps the marinade coat the pork chop. You can substitute with any kind of light oil like grapeseed oil or olive oil.
- Lemongrass – There are no substitutes for lemongrass.
- Shallots – This adds more flavor to the pork chop. Substitute with a small yellow onion if you can’t find shallots.
- Garlic – Adds flavor to the pork chop.
- Broken rice – Broken rice looks like really small, half sized grains of rice. If you can’t find broken rice, I would recommend any kind of long grain rice like jasmine rice.
- Fresh vegetables (cucumbers & tomatoes) – In a traditional com tam, you usually have a piece of tomato and cucumber on the plate to help balance out the rich, savory flavors of the pork chop and dipping sauce.
- Fried egg – This is optional, but I like mine served with a fried egg.
- Scallion oil – This is also optional, but I love topping the pork and rice with scallion oil. It is pretty easy to make. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes. Pour hot oil over minced green onions, and you’re done!
- Vietnamese dipping sauce – You can find my recipe for Vietnamese dipping sauce here.
- Pickled carrots & daikon – An optional topping but I love how the pickled carrots and daikon contrast with the umami flavors on the plate. To make pickled carrots and daikon, grate 1 carrot and 1/2 a daikon. Mix 1 cup of water, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt together. Add the carrots, daikon, and liquid to a jar. Let sit for 3 hours or overnight. You can use any kind of light vinegar for pickling. Other good options are white vinegar and rice wine vinegar.
Making my com suon recipe
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade into a large bowl and mix. Add the pork chops and marinade to a ziploc bag. Marinate for 3 hours or overnight. I would highly recommend doing it overnight for the best flavor. After they are done marinating, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put a wire rack onto a large baking sheet. Place the marinated pork chops on top. Reserve the marinade for later. Bake the pork chops for 15 minutes. Turn the pork chops over. Brush with the marinade and bake for another 15 minutes. Note that the cook time will vary based on how thick your pork chops are, so adjust your cook time accordingly. Mine were thick, so I baked them for 30 minutes on each side. A done pork chop will have an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. While the pork chops are cooking prepare your toppings. Cook your rice. Slice your vegetables. Make your scallion oil. And fry your eggs. Serve the pork chops with these toppings and a side of Vietnamese dipping sauce.
What is the best kind of pork to use for com suon?
This cut will provide you with the best results because thin pork chops are easier to cook, and the bones give the meat a better flavor.
How do you eat com tam?
Believe it or not, there is a specific way Vietnamese people eat this dish. They drizzle Vietnamese dipping sauce over the rice, so it can soak up its umami goodness. And then they cut off a piece of the pork chop, dip it in the dipping sauce, and eat the pork and rice in one bite.
More tips on how to make the perfect com suon
Use the oven for easy clean up
Traditionally, this dish is made using a grill. However, I live in a very small apartment, and it doesn’t make sense for me to grill indoors if I don’t have to. It’s also a harder clean up job. That’s why I used the oven for this recipe. It provides good results with half the clean up.
Customize your toppings
There are a lot of components to this rice plate, but feel free to substitute or leave out whichever toppings you want.
How do you store com suon?
Store every part of the dish separately in airtight containers and put them all onto a plate when you’re ready to serve. This dish can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop with Broken Rice (Com Suon Nuong)
Lemongrass Pork Chops
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade (all the ingredients through brown sugar) in a small bowl. Add the pork chops and marinade to a ziploc bag. Marinate for 3 hours or overnight. I would highly recommend marinating it overnight for the best flavor.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Put a wire rack on a baking sheet. Place the marinated pork chops on top. Make sure to reserve the marinade. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the pork chops over. Brush with the marinade and bake for another 15 minutes. The pork shop should be done when the internal temperature is 145 degrees F. The bake time will vary based on the thickness of the pork chop. Mine were thick (~1 inch thick), so I baked it for 30 minutes on each side. You can also pan fry or grill the pork chops, but I find the oven the easiest method.
- While the pork chops are baking, cook the broken rice, fry your eggs, slice your cucumbers and tomatoes, and make your scallion oil. To make the scallion oil, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes. Pour the oil over the green onions and set aside.
- Serve pork chops with broken rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickled carrots & daikon, a fried egg, and Vietnamese dipping sauce.
- Use thin cut, bone in pork chops – This cut will provide you with the best results because thin pork chops are easier to cook, and the bones give the meat a better flavor.
- Use the oven for easy clean up – Traditionally, this dish is made using a grill. However, I live in a very small apartment, and it doesn’t make sense for me to grill indoors if I don’t have to. It’s also a harder clean up job. That’s why I used the oven for this recipe. It provides good results with half the clean up.
- Customize your toppings – There are a lot of components to this rice plate, but feel free to substitute or leave out whichever toppings you want.
- How do you eat com tam? – Believe it or not, there is a specific way Vietnamese people eat this dish. They drizzle Vietnamese dipping sauce over the rice, so it can soak up its umami goodness. And then they cut off a piece of the pork chop, dip it in the dipping sauce, and eat the pork and rice in one bite.