This recipe for Vietnamese Pork Roll (Cha Lua) consists of seasoned ground pork that is shaped into a sausage roll, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed or boiled until cooked.
What is cha lua?
Chả lụa/(gio song or gio lua) is also known as Vietnamese ham or steamed pork roll.
It is a type of sausage made with pork and is typically steamed in banana leaf and is a dish usually eating during the new year (Tet).
Similarly to Bo Vien (Vietnamese Beef Balls), the pork meat is mechanically beaten into a smooth paste before being shaped.
It has a firm texture that can be sliced easily and is paired with many Vietnamese dishes.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe is simple and straightforward to make.
It consists of a few pantry ingredients and ground pork, which is easy to find.
My version of cha lua is darker in colour compared to store-bought ones, as those contain much more filler (eg. potato starch) which produces a lighter colour.
There's no preservatives or MSG in this recipe.
Using banana leaf to wrap up the cha lua infuses a light aroma and flavor into the pork roll.
It's a small-batch recipe that forms 2 logs -- you can easily place one into the freezer while enjoying the other.
Equipment you'll need
- stand mixer with paddle or flat beater attachment: for beating the meat mixture into a paste; you can also use a food processor
- kitchen twine: for tying up the pork roll
- large pot: to boil the pork roll
Ingredients you'll need
- ground pork: you can use lean pork or regular; best if partially frozen for 2 hours
- potato starch: acts as a binder; alternatively you can use tapioca starch
- granulated sugar: to balance out the flavour
- sea salt: to add more savoury flavour
- garlic powder: adds flavour
- sesame oil: for aroma and a little additional fat; or vegetable oil
- fish sauce: use a high quality fish sauce for the best flavour
- ALSA baking powder: is a single-acting baking powder which activates in liquid which is different than regular double-acting baking powder
- white pepper: or black pepper
- ice water: cold water helps the meat mixture become firm and "bouncy"
- banana leaf: is different than bamboo leaf; usually comes frozen in large sheets; if you can't find it you can use aluminum foil
- coarse sea salt: for salting the boiling water
How to make it
Make the pork meat mixture
Add the partially frozen ground pork to the stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment (Step 1 below).
In a small mixing bowl, combine the potato starch, sugar, salt, garlic powder, sesame oil, fish sauce, baking powder, white pepper and water. Give it a stir (Step 2 below).
Once the ground meat has started to break up, pour in the seasoning and let the mixer run (Step 3 below).
Beat the meat until long strands appear and the mixture has lightened in colour, about 10-15 minutes.
Form and shape
Double up each banana leaf so that you have 2 leaves for each pork roll.
Divide the pork mixture in half and portion it equally onto the banana leaves, in the centre (Step 4 below).
With your hands slightly wet, mound each pork mixture into a short log (Step 5 below).
Tip: to reduce air pockets, thump and knead the mixture a few times to rid of any bubbles.
Roll up the banana leaf and tuck in the sides.
Do the same with the 2nd banana leaf, ensuring no cracks are visible.
Use 2 pieces of twine to secure and tie up the roll (Step 6 below).
Boil the pork rolls
Add the pork rolls to a large pot, cover with water and add a handful of coarse sea salt. (Make sure the rolls are submerged) (Step 7 below).
Bring the pot up to a boil and cook for 45 minutes. (Replenish the cooking water if need be) (Step 8 below).
Remove the pork rolls and transfer to a plate to completely cool.
Remove the banana leaves, slice, and serve (Step 9 below).
How to serve
There are many ways to use Vietnamese ham/pork roll.
Slice up the cha lua into thin or thick slices and serve in/with:
- noodle soups: Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), Bun Thang, Bun Moc
- sandwiches: Cold Cut Banh Mi
- woven rice noodles: Banh Hoi
- Vietnamese rice rolls: Banh Cuon (similar to Cheong Fun)
- sticky rice cakes: Banh Day/Banh Giay
- Vietnamese sticky rice: Xoi Man
- dipping sauce: (Nuoc Cham)
How to store
Store the cooled cha lua in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
You can freeze the Vietnamese ham well-wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil for up to 3 months.
Defrost the pork roll in the fridge overnight before slicing.
FAQs & expert tips
Can I steam the rolls?
Yes, you can steam the rolls. Adjust the cooking time to steam for close to 1 hour.
Can I double the recipe?
Yes, you can easily double the recipe.
My pork rolls aren't fully submerged in the water.
You can intermittently rotate the rolls using a pair of tongs, or add something heavy (like a plate) on top to keep them submerged in the water.
Other recipes you may like
Be sure to check out these recipes:
Bo Vien (Vietnamese Beef Balls)
Cha Gio (Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls with Taro)
Instant Pot Vietnamese Beef Pho
Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Spring Rolls (Bun Cha Gio)
Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
Let me know if you try out this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Vietnamese Pork Roll (Cha Lua)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 tablespoon potato starch
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon ALSA baking powder
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 3 tablespoon ice cold water
- 4 pieces banana leaf medium sized, about 9" by 12"
- 4 pieces cotton kitchen twine
- handful of coarse sea salt for salting boiling water
For key visual step-by-step photos, refer to the body of the blog post.
Make the pork meat mixture:
- Add the partially frozen ground pork to the stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the potato starch, sugar, salt, garlic powder, sesame oil, fish sauce, baking powder, white pepper and water. Give it a stir.
- Once the ground meat has started to break up, pour in the seasoning and let the mixer run.
- Beat the meat until long strands appear and the mixture has lightened in colour, about 10-15 minutes.
Form and shape:
- Double up each banana leaf so that you have 2 leaves for each pork roll.
- Divide the pork mixture in half and portion it equally onto the banana leaves, in the centre.
- With your hands slightly wet, mound each pork mixture into a short log.
- Tip: to reduce air pockets, thump and knead the mixture a few times to rid of any bubbles.
- Roll up the banana leaf and tuck in the sides.
- Do the same with the 2nd banana leaf, ensuring no cracks are visible.
- Use 2 pieces of twine to secure and tie up the roll.
Boil the pork rolls:
- Add the pork rolls to a large pot, cover with water and add a handful of coarse sea salt. (Make sure the rolls are submerged).
- Bring the pot up to a boil and cook for 45 minutes. (Replenish the cooking water if need be).
- Remove the pork rolls and transfer to a plate to completely cool.
- Remove the banana leaves, slice, and serve.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
I was going to ask what I could use instead of a banana leaf. I can't get that here but I see you can use aluminium foil instead. That would be fine. Looks delicious!
David @ Spiced
This recipe is new to me - but I love learning about new recipes/techniques. I need to try this out for sure! Thanks for broadening my horizons, Michelle!
Raymund | angsarap.net
I love this but this thing is hard to find here in NZ commercially. thanks for the recipe now I can make it at home, looks easy to prepare too
This is good fried as well, and can be eaten so many ways!
Thanks for your comment, Tommie. Indeed, it is so versatile!