Cha Lua

Cha Lụa or Steamed Pork Roll, also called Vietnamese Ham or Vietnamese bologna is a Vietnamese sausage, made of pork and is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves. In the past pork was not ground but pounded into a paste, today pork is emulsified in food processor with other ingredients. The mixture was then wrapped tightly in banana leaves similarly to Thai Nham fermented semi-dry sausage. The Cha Lua sausage was either submerged vertically in boiling water and cooked for about 60 minutes or steamed for 30 minutes. In many areas banana leaves are difficult to find and Vietnamese chefs substitute aluminum foil for banana leaves. Even in areas that have banana leaves, a leaf surrounds the meat for flavor while the aluminum foil shapes the sausage. A different yet practical solution is to use a parchment paper*. What separates manufacturing of Cha Lua from other sausages is the usage of baking powder to tenderize meat.
MeatsMetricUS
Pork butt 80/201000 g2.2 lb
Ingredients per 1000g (1 kg) of meat
Salt3.0 g½ tsp
Iced water60 ml4 Tbsp
Fish sauce45 ml3 Tbsp
Potato starch or cornstarch starch15 g1 Tbsp
Sugar30 g2 Tbsp
White pepper2.0 g1 tsp
Baking powder5.0 g1 tsp
Banana leaves, 14x14”66
Instructions
  1. Grind pork with 3/8” (10 mm) plate.
  2. Mix ground meats with salt, sugar, pepper and fish sauce.
  3. Using whisk and a separate bowl mix cold water, potato starch and baking powder.
  4. Pour over ground meat mixture.
  5. Mix all together, spread the meat on a plastic sheet forming a flat layer and place for 2 hours in freezer.
  6. Emulsify in food processor for 3 minutes using short pulses. Place again in freezer for 60 minutes.
  7. Emulsify again in food processor for 3 minutes until a smooth paste is obtained.
  8. Spread a thin film of vegetable oil over banana leaf.
  9. Place stuffing on banana leaf and form into a roll.
  10. Fold the banana leaves around the roll.
  11. Tie the red ribbon or twine around the pork roll to hold banana leaves together. Additionally, some people wrap this stuffed in banana leaf roll with aluminum foil.
  12. Steam cook the roll for 30 minutes and let the roll cool.
Notes
Cha Lua should exhibit an elastic, springy texture.
700 g or pork shoulder (butt) and 300 g of pork loin is a good selection of meats.
Many recipes include garlic.
Banana leaves can be fresh or frozen (commercially produced). Wipe off fresh banana leaves on both sides with a moist paper towel. Using scissors cut banana leaves into four 12” (30 cm) sections.

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