Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf – Cha Trung Hap
Cha Trung Hap, or Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf, is a cherished traditional dish of Vietnam, deeply embedded in the childhood memories of many. Its simplicity, ease of preparation, and use of familiar ingredients make it quite accessible to anyone interested in delving into the richness of Vietnamese cuisine.
Cha Trung Hap may not be a well-known Vietnamese dish, but it certainly deserves all the recognition it can get. Often made from minced meat, eggs, mung bean noodles, and wood ear mushrooms, this dish is a true delight to the taste buds. What makes it even better is the fact that there are countless variations to it, making it all the more exciting to try different versions. Whether it’s made with crab meat, shrimp or fish, the essence of the dish remains the same.
This is a dish with an incredibly quick, convenient, and quite flexible recipe, often incorporated into the menus of busy days by Vietnamese women. All it takes is some basic ingredients and a few minutes of preparation to get a delicious dish that you can share with your loved ones. So without further ado, let’s jump right into making the perfect Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf – Cha Trung Hap.
- 500g minced pork
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup mung bean noodles, soaked and chopped
- 4 wood ear mushrooms,
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1/2 chopped onion
- 1 carrot, diced small
- 1 tablespoon of ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
First, ensure you clean all your ingredients thoroughly.
- Soak the wood ear mushrooms and mung bean noodles in warm water until they soften (about 15 minutes), then rinse them clean and let them drain. Afterward, cut the wood ear mushrooms into small strands and chop the noodles into 1cm sections.
- Rinse the onion then chop it into small pieces. Do the same with the carrot.
Mixing the Ingredients
- Crack all six eggs into a large bowl, then separate two of the egg yolks and set them aside. Next, add the other ingredients such as minced pork, wood ear mushrooms, mung bean noodles, carrot and onion into the same bowl. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, and fish sauce.
- Use your hands to mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Ensure every ingredient is evenly distributed in the mixture. Your mixture should have a wet, paste-like consistency at this point. If it feels too dry, consider adding another egg or a bit of water. This forms the primary base for your Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf.
Before adding the mixture to the mold, lightly grease it with cooking oil to prevent sticking. Then, pour the mixture in, spreading it evenly throughout the mold.
Steam the mixture for approximately 30 minutes, adjusting the time based on the size of your mold. Remember to open the lid and wipe off any condensation after about 5 minutes to prevent water droplets from falling onto the meatloaf. This will ensure that the top of your Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf stays dry and cooks evenly.
Once the meatloaf has been steaming for about 30 minutes, take the two egg yolks you have set aside earlier and beat them until they’re smooth. Pour this beaten egg yolk mix over the top of the steaming meatloaf, distributing it evenly across the surface. Return the mold to the steamer and let it continue to steam for about 5 more minutes or until the egg yolk topping has fully cooked and solidified.
Checking for Doneness
To quickly check if your Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf is fully cooked, use a fork to break off a small piece and see if the meat is still pink. If it’s fully cooked, you can remove it from the steamer and let it cool for a bit before serving and enjoying.
Alternative Cooking Methods
If you don’t have a steamer or prefer a different cooking style, you can also make Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf using other methods. Here are a couple of alternatives:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the meatloaf mixture into a greased loaf pan, then bake for about 45 minutes or until the meatloaf is fully cooked. Pour the beaten egg yolk mix over the top 5 minutes before it’s done, then return to the oven to let the topping cook and solidify.
Shape the meatloaf mixture into small patties instead of one large loaf. Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the patties. Fry until they are golden brown and fully cooked, flipping halfway through. It may not have the typical ‘loaf’ shape but the taste will still be authentic.
Remember, these methods also need to be checked for doneness as described earlier to ensure the meatloaf is fully cooked before serving. Enjoy this versatile Vietnamese dish in the way that suits you best!
Choosing an Appropriate Mold
It’s important to choose the right mold for your Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf. A circular, shallow ceramic dish or pie dish is traditionally used. However, a rectangular loaf pan or any other oven-safe dish that you have on hand can also work. The key factor to keep in mind is the depth – the mold shouldn’t be too deep as we want the meatloaf to cook evenly. Typically, 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.5 cm) deep will yield good results. Also, remember to grease the mold with cooking oil to prevent the meatloaf from sticking.
Tips and tricks
- If your Trung Cha Hap is undercooked, don’t worry – it’s an easy fix. Just return the meatloaf to the steamer, or the oven if you’re using the alternative cooking method, and continue cooking until it’s done. The cooking time will depend on how undercooked it is, so it’s best to check the meatloaf every 5 minutes. A good indicator of doneness is when no pink remains in the meat and it’s firm to the touch.
- Once your Trung Cha Hap is cooked, allow it to cool slightly before slicing into it. Cutting into it immediately after it comes out of the steamer or oven may cause it to crumble and lose its firm texture. Be patient, as this resting period will also allow the flavors to meld together even more, enhancing the overall taste of the meatloaf.
- For storage, simply place the meatloaf in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 5 days this way. Remember to reheat it in a microwave or any method you prefer before consuming.
Simplified Version for Busy Cooks
If you’re short on time, there are several ways to simplify the recipe without sacrificing flavor.
- You can skip the egg yolk topping. It adds a nice touch but isn’t essential to the taste of the meatloaf.
- Feel free to omit some of the vegetables like the carrot if you’re in a rush. The primary flavor of the meatloaf comes from the pork and seasonings.
- Remember, the key is to create a well-seasoned pork mixture and ensure that it is thoroughly cooked. Regardless of the specific ingredients or cooking method used, a well-made Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf will still be a delicious and satisfying meal!
Variations & Serving Suggestions
Cha Trung Hap can be made with many types of minced meat, such as beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. Seafood lovers might even want to try using crab meat, shrimp or fish for a change!
For those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan alternative, the primary ingredient – minced meat – can be replaced with tofu.
Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf is a delicious and versatile dish that can be served with a variety of sides to suit your taste. Commonly, it’s served with steamed white rice and some pickles. You can also pair it with stir-fried vegetables or a crunchy salad for extra flavor.
Typically, Cha Trung Hap is served with Cơm Tấm, or broken rice, a traditional Vietnamese dish. The hearty meatloaf and the delicate, slightly sweet flavors of the broken rice complement each other wonderfully. To serve, place a generous slice of the meatloaf next to a mound of broken rice. Drizzle some fish sauce over the top, and garnish with fresh herbs and pickled vegetables for a meal that’s bursting with authentic Vietnamese flavors.
Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf – Cha Trung Hap – is an incredibly quick and convenient meal that can be customized to match any taste. Whether you’re an experienced cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this delicious and nutritious dish can easily become a regular part of your cooking routine. With just a few simple ingredients and minimal preparation time, you’ll soon have a flavorful dinner that will satisfy everyone at the table! So grab your steamer or oven and get cooking – Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf awaits!
Is There A Substitution For Eggs In Meatloaf?
You can substitute eggs in meatloaf by using equal parts of silken tofu. However, keep in mind that these substitutions will affect the texture and taste of your dish.
Can I Use Milk Instead Of Eggs In Meatloaf?
You can use milk instead of eggs in meatloaf. However, the milk will not bind the ingredients together as well as the eggs do. To make up for this, you will need to increase the amount of breadcrumbs or flour used in your recipe.
Is It Safe To Eat Meatloaf That Is Pink Inside?
It is not safe to eat meatloaf that is pink inside. This means that the meatloaf is undercooked and should be returned to the oven or steamer until fully cooked. A good indicator of doneness is when no pink remains in the meat and it’s firm to the touch.
What Happens If You Put Too Many Eggs In Meatloaf?
If you put too many eggs in meatloaf, the texture of the dish will be soggy and rough. To avoid this, use the amount of eggs specified in your recipe or slightly less. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients like breadcrumbs are also properly proportioned for optimal results.
How Can I Thicken My Meatloaf?
If you find that your meatloaf is too wet, you can thicken it by adding more breadcrumbs or eggs. This will help to absorb some of the excess moisture and give the meatloaf a firmer texture. You may also need to increase the cooking time slightly if you use this method. Alternatively, you could try reducing the amount of liquids used in the recipe. This will help to prevent the meatloaf from becoming too soggy and ensure that it holds together nicely during cooking. With a few simple adjustments, you can easily achieve a perfectly thick and delicious Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf!
I’m Godfrey Jensen, CEO and head chef at Lapps Meats. We’re a top-quality butcher with over 70 years of experience. Our goal is to provide our customers with the best, freshest products possible. We take our food seriously, and we love serving the community by providing them with quality meat products.