Com Suon Nuong

Com Suon Nuong

Here at Street Foodies Saigon, we are unabashed lovers of all things pork. And in the great city of Ho Chi Minh City, you can’t walk more than a block before running into a vendor that sells some form of pork deliciousness. Most likely than not, if you see some smoke as well, it’ll be com suon nuong.

A whole bunch of grilled goodness.
A whole bunch of grilled goodness.

Com suon nuong literally translates to rice ribs grilled. Typical of Vietnamese naming conventions for food, it’s about as bland as it gets. And typical of Vietnamese street food, the end product is packed full of mouth watering flavour. The cut of pork is usually the loin. If you are lucky, you will get some of the rib attached as well.

The pork is first marinated in your typical Vietnamese meat marinade of fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, chilis, garlic, and lemongrass. The marinade makes for an intense savoury and sweet umami packed flavour that sticks to the meat, even after grilling. After a few hours, the pork is grilled up and served on a bed of rice.

Mmmmm... grilled meat....
Mmmmm… grilled meat….

The rice is as important as the meat itself. Com tam or broken rice works the best for this dish. These broken grains of rice are the end result of the drying and milling process of rice farming. While considered a lower grade of rice, the smaller grains are the perfect accompaniment to com suon as they can be packed onto a spoon easier than long rice, making for easier stacking of items.

What is on a plate of com suon nuong?

A plate of com cuon nuong with a side of cha trung.
A plate of com cuon nuong with a side of cha trung.

A typical plate of com suon will first have a bed of broken rice. The meat is placed on top with a sprinkling of lightly fried chopped scallions. Also on the plate will be some pickled vegetables and a small ramekin of nuoc cham. Some places will serve a side of soup as well. You can also add some extras such as trung chien (fried egg), bi (shredded pork skin), cha trung (a steamed egg quiche with pork and mushrooms) or cha ca (fried fish patty).

A bunch of extras for your plate.
A bunch of extras for your plate.

How do you eat com suon nuong?

This dish is meant to be eaten with fork and spoon. Most places do not serve knives to cut up the pork as the pork is usually thin enough to cut with the edge of a spoon. A bite sized piece of pork is placed on a portion of rice with nuoc cham drizzled on top for good measure. Then the whole lot is then shoveled onto the spoon and eaten.

**Repeat**

How much does com suon nuong cost?

Expect to pay something in the scope of 20,000 to 50,000VND. We are huge fans of Com Tam Bui Saigon in Tan Dinh Ward. You can get a slab of pork chop goodness for 35,000VND; a deal considering the size of the chop usually covers the whole bed of rice. Upgrade another 5,000VND and you can order a com suon non nuong muoi ot. In place of the pork chop, you get a slab of ribs that has been marinated in a salty chili marinade that is lip-smackingly addictive.

Where the goods are.
Where the goods are.

 

 

 

Vinh Dao

Born in Vietnam and raised in California, Vinh’s obsession for food comes from his grandmother’s cooking along with living a few blocks from an In-N-Out burger location. He has lived in the region for over 10 years and is the co-founder of the Cambodian food blog Nyam Penh, which was picked in 2012 as one of top 55 global food blogs by Saveur magazine. You can find his photos and prose in the Guardian, Globe and Mail and Al Jazeera.

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