Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)

Chả Lụa / Giò Lụa (Vietnamese Pork Roll / Vietnamese Ham)

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Chả Lụa / Giò Lụa is a popular Vietnamese sausage that you could find in many dishes from Northern to Southern cuisine. It’s the pork paste wrapped in banana leaves, fashioned into a sizable sausage roll, and then steamed or boiled until fully cooked.

Making Chả Lụa at home is way simpler than you’d think (I made it with just a small food processor) and, of course, way cheaper (and with less filler) than the one from the Asian market.

Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)

P.S: This blog post could be a tad lengthy because I want to ensure you can make Chả Lụa with foolproof results—it’s not difficult with the right tips! Plus, some ideas on how to enjoy it (beyond Vietnamese cuisine). If you’re only interested in the recipe, feel free to click on the “Jump to recipe” button.

🙋‍♀️ What is Chả Lụa?

Chả is a Vietnamese term used to describe Vietnamese-style sausage. While it’s known as Chả in the South, in the North, it’s referred to as Giò.

The term Lụa means silk, highlighting the smooth texture of the sausage.

In the South, this sausage is known as Chả Lụa and in the North, people call it Giò Lụa, or simply Giò.

Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)

Ước Lễ Village in Hanoi is famous for its 500-year tradition of making Vietnamese traditional foods like Bánh Chưng (square sticky rice), Giò Lụa, and Nem Chua (fermented pork sausage).

Fun fact:

In Northern Vietnam, “Chả” may also denote the pork patties in Bún Chả (Northern rice noodles with BBQ Pork) or the fish fillets in Chả Cá Lã Vọng (Turmeric Fish with Dill).

A mouthwatering photo of Cha Ca La Vong, featuring grilled fish fillets seasoned with turmeric and spices, garnished with dill, peanuts, and crispy shallots. Served with vermicelli noodles, herbs, and dipping sauce.
Chả Cá Lã Vọng

In the South, Vietnamese egg rolls are referred to as Chả Giò and Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf is Chả Trứng Hấp.

Even as a Vietnamese native, I can’t explain the reason behind 😂 !!

Other “Chả” in Vietnamese cuisine:

Chả Lụa is actually my least favorite 😂.

  • Chả Chiên / Chả Mỡ: the fried roll is made from a blend of lean pork and a decent amount of pork fat so it has a softer texture than Chả Lụa.
  • Chả Quế: Cinnamon pork cake.
  • Chả Cốm: pork patties with young green rice. You often find it in Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm.
  • Chả Huế: the smaller, more garlicky version of Chả Lụa.
  • Giò Bì: basically Chả Lụa with some pork skin.
  • Chả Bò: Vietnamese beef roll.
  • Chả Cá: Vietnames fish cake.
Chả Cá (Vietnamese fish cake)
My Chả Cá (Vietnamese fish cake). Sorry, the quality of the photo is quite terrible.

There are some dishes that may not be called “Chả” but share a similar texture (the same cooking technique):

  • Giò Sống: Vietnamese pork paste, the uncooked Chả Lụa. It can be used to cook many soups like súp nui sườn (macaroni soup), canh bí đỏ (pumpkin soup), canh khổ qua (bittermelon soup).
  • Nem Nướng: Vietnamese Grilled Pork Sausage Skewers.
  • Chạo Tôm: Sugar Cane Shrimp.
  • Bò Viên: Vietnamese beef balls, my favorite in Phở.
Gio Song (Vietnamese Pork Paste)
Giò Sống

🐷 Ingredients

Ingredients for making Chả Lụa: pork loin, chicken breast, cooking oil, baking powder, garlic powder, sugar, peppercorns, chicken powder, potato starch, fish sauce.
  • Pork & Chicken Breast: You could use ground pork or pork butt, but if you want your Chả Lụa to have a lighter white color (more similar to the store-bought one), I recommend using pork loin. It’s even better if you could incorporate some chicken breast / chicken tender, a tip I learned from a Hanoi housewife.
Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)
Chả Lụa made from only ground pork. It’s still springy but looks dark.
Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)
Chả Lụa made from pork loin and chicken breast. Its color is way lighter.
  • Fish sauce: for authentic Chả Lụa flavor. Use high-quality fish sauce like Red Boat.
  • Starch: cornstarch, tapioca starch, or potato starch. I find potato starch yields the best results.
  • Baking powder: In Germany, I use Dr. Oetker baking powder. In the U.S, many people recommend using single-acting baking powder like Alsa, but double-acting baking powder would also work fine. Just make sure you can find “SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE” or SAPP in the ingredient list.
    • My friend living in the States still makes good Chả Lụa with ARGO double-acting baking powder and Dr Oetker baking powder.
  • Sugar: The Southern version tends to have slightly more sugar than the Northern style. My recipe leans toward the Southern flavor.
  • Cooking oil: Lard or pork fat is ideal but cooking oil works fine as well. Chả Lụa in Vietnam always contains a small amount of fat.
  • Garlic powder or onion powder: Adds aroma to the sausage. Fresh garlic and shallots work fine.
  • Peppercorns: I enjoy a spicy kick, so I add plenty of peppercorns to my Chả Lụa, but adjust according to your taste.
  • Chicken powder: Enhances the flavor of the dish.
  • Water: for the soft and bouncy texture of Chả Lụa.

To wrap Chả Lụa, you will need banana leaves (often found in the frozen aisle at Asian markets) and aluminum foil.

📝 Instructions

Marinate the meat

  • Slice the pork and chicken into thin strips. If you’re using a stand mixer to beat the meat, you’ll need to grind the meat in this step.
  • Combine the pork and chicken with all the other ingredients (except for the peppercorns).
  • Transfer the mixture into a freezer-safe ziploc bag. Use your hands to evenly spread the mixture in the bag to create a layer that’s about 0.4 inches (1 cm) thick.
Marinate the meat.
Put the meat into a zip lock bag.
  • Place the bag in the freezer for 3-4 hours until it’s partially frozen. If you don’t have time to make Chả Lụa within a day, just leave it in the freezer. When cooking, let it sit at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours until it thaws to the partially frozen state.
  • Before grinding the meat, use scissors or a knife to cut the meat mixture into smaller pieces.

What is the partially-frozen state?

It happens when your meat mixture remains very cold, potentially with slight thawing on the surface. This makes it easy to break the cold patty by hand or cut it into smaller pieces using scissors. The texture looks quite similar to sorbet or shaved ice in Korean bingsu.

The pork should be semi-frozen
The partially-frozen meat

With a food processor

This method is designed for a small batch (0.4-0.7 pounds or 200-300 grams, based on my 800W food processor). If you intend to make a larger amount of Chả Lụa, you may want to divide it into 2 or 3 smaller batches.

  • Pulse the meat mixture at the lowest power setting. After 2-3 pulses, scrape down the sides of the bowl and push any remaining meat into the blades.
  • After pulsing about 10 times, you can increase the speed to high for 7-10 seconds. Remember to stir the meat sometimes and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the peppercorns if you like.
Place the meat into the working bowl of food processor.
Grind the meat with the food processor.
  • The paste is ready when it achieves a smooth, paler, and fluffy texture. When using a spoon to scoop the paste, it should adhere to the spoon.
The pork paste for Chả Lụa.
  • Transfer this pork paste to a bowl and proceed with the second batch until all the meat is processed.
  • Return all of the pork paste to the ziploc bag. Pound the pork paste by dropping the bag onto the stovetop around 50 times. This step helps give your Chả Lụa a springier texture.
  • Or you can use a hand mixer with dough hooks to beat the mixture for one minute. Work with only 0.4-0.7 pounds or 200-300 grams at a time.

With a stand mixer

With this method, you could make a larger batch of Chả Lụa (1.1 pounds or 500 grams). You’ll need the flat beater attachment for your stand mixer.

If you work with a stand mixer, be sure to use ground pork (store-bought or make your own).

  • Pound the meat mixture on the lowest setting for 2 minutes.
  • Ramp up the speed to medium and continue pounding for 3-5 minutes.
  • Lastly, switch to the highest setting and pound for another 3-5 minutes. Add peppercorns to the mixture at this stage.
  • The paste is ready when it looks smooth, paler, and fluffy. When scooping the pork paste with a spoon, it should adhere to the spoon.

Shape & Wrap

  • Thaw the banana leaves, then wash, rinse, and pat them dry.
  • On a piece of aluminum foil, place a banana leaf (ensure the aluminum foil is double the size of the banana leaf). Put the pork paste in the center of the leaf.
the pork paste on a banana leave.
  • Dampen your hands with water and shape the pork paste into a log, ensuring to remove any air pockets.
  • Cover the log with another banana leaf and fold the sides inwards to enclose the roll.
  • Wrap the pork roll securely with aluminum foil to maintain its shape.
wrap the pork roll with banana leaves.
Wrap the pork roll with aluminum foil.

Steam

Because I wrap the Vietnamese sausage with aluminum foil, I will steam it to cook (boiling may cause water to leak into the pork roll).

  • Put the pork roll in a steamer and steam it for 45-50 minutes.
  • Allow it to cool completely. You can store it in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to a month.
Steam the pork roll.
The fully cooked Chả Lụa.

🌟 Some tips for a foolproof result

Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)
Your Chả Lụa should be springy and not break when you bend it.

Use fresh, newly-producted meat. The quality of the meat is paramount for making Chả Lụa. Opt for meat with the longest expiry date.

Keep your meat cold at all times. The meat will experience a process called protein extraction to achieve a bouncy, springy texture. This process happens most effectively at temperatures between 39°F to 44°F (or 4°C to 7°C).

If you have a meat thermometer, use it to check the temperature. If the temperature of the pork paste exceeds 41°F (5°C), stop working and refrigerate the bowl with the meat for 20-30 minutes.

Avoid overloading your food processor (or stand mixer). For a small food processor, I recommend using 0.4-0.7 pounds (200-300g) of meat, and for a stand mixer, aim for 1.1 pounds (500g) of meat.

Keep your work bowl cold. There should always be condensation on the outside of your work bowl. If not, stop immediately, place the bowl with the meat in the fridge for 30 minutes before continuing.

🌟 How to serve Chả Lụa

Chả Lụa is one of the most versatile foods in our cuisine. It can be enjoyed as a booze food, a quick snack, an appetizer, a side dish, a topping for main courses, or even as a standalone main dish.

There are countless ways to prepare and enjoy Chả Lụa!!

  1. Tasty on its own:

In the North, Giò Lụa is a must-have dish at significant family events like Lunar New Year, weddings, and death anniversaries (giỗ).

gio lua
Giò Lụa in the North
  1. With rice:

As a child, nothing made me happier than a bowl of steamed jasmine rice accompanied by Chả Lụa and a generous drizzle of spicy pure fish sauce (I’ve been a chili fan since childhood lol).

Here are a few rice recipes from the blog that pair perfectly with Chả Lụa:

Delicious Vietnamese Xoi Man - A delectable plate of Vietnamese savory sticky rice adorned with flavorful toppings, a delightful treat from Vietnamese cuisine.

If you’re bored with plain rice, try using Chả Lụa as a topping for fried rice.

  1. As a topping for dishes:

You’ll find certain Vietnamese dishes that often include Chả Lụa. Here are some examples:

Close-up photo of a delicious Banh Mi Pate sandwich. The sandwich features a crusty baguette filled with layers of savory pate, fresh vegetables, cilantro, and pickled carrots.

Bánh Mì Sandwich: Chả Lụa, house mayo, and liver pâté are always my best combo for Bánh Mì 😋.

Bánh Mì Charcuterie Board: the deconstructed version of Bánh Mì.

Bún Mọc: Vietnamese noodle soup with pork balls.

Bánh Cuốn: Vietnamese steamed rice rolls.

Bún Riêu & Canh Bún: Vietnamese crab noodle soup.

Bún Bò Huế: Hue-style spicy beef noodle soup.

Bún Thang (a Northern rice noodle soup): For Bún Thang, Chả Lụa is not a choice; it’s a must!!

  1. Pork substitute:
Delicious and refreshing Gỏi Cuốn - Vietnamese fresh spring rolls filled with succulent shrimp, tender slices of pork belly, crisp lettuce, rice vermicelli, and fragrant fresh herbs. Wrapped in translucent rice paper, these vibrant rolls are served with a tantalizing dipping sauce.

Vietnamese people often make Chả Lụa as a pork substitute:

  • Chả Lụa Sốt Cà Chua (with tomato sauce): similar to Xíu Mại.
  • Chả Lụa Kho (braised chả lụa): similar to Thịt Kho.
  • Chả Lụa Kho Tiêu (braised chả lụa with pepper): similar to Thịt Kho Tiêu.
  • We sometimes incorporate it into Spring Rolls instead of using pork belly.
  1. Processed meat substitute:

You could use Chả Lụa as a sausage or luncheon meat substitute (same-same but healthier) in any non-Vietnamese recipes (it’s not against the law 😂).

My German boyfriend said Chả Lụa is quite similar to German Fleischwurst (Lyoner sausage).

I often use Chả Lụa instead of sausages for Vietnamese Steak & Eggs (Bò Né) or Vietnamese Pizza (Bánh Tráng Nướng).

Bo Ne (Vietnamese Steak and Eggs)
Bò Né (Dodging Beef)

At times, I simply slice Chả Lụa into thick matchsticks and fry them until golden. It makes for a perfect snack or a side dish, quite similar to SPAM fries.

  1. Use it to cook Lao & Thai foods:

During my trip to Bangkok last year, I stumbled upon Chả Lụa in every 7/11 convenience store. After some research, I learned that Thai people adopted Chả Lụa from the Vietnamese and grew fond of it (who wouldn’t).

Thai Instant Noodle Salad (Yum mama)
My Yum Mama (Thai Instant Noodle Salad) with Chả Lụa

In Thai, Chả Lụa is called Moo Yor (หมูยอ). Moo means pork while Yor comes from Giò in Vietnamese.

Then, I’m obsessed with Yum Moo Yor – the Thai salad with Chả Lụa.

In Thai cuisine, Yum (or Yam) means “mix” but usually refers to salad-like dishes with sweet, spicy, and sour flavors (and it’s super yummy too). It’s quite similar to “Gỏi” in Vietnamese cuisine.

I guess many people are more familiar with Yum Woonsen (Thai glass noodle salad),  Yum Khai Dao (crispy fried egg salad) or Yum Talay (Thai seafood salad).

❓ FAQ

What does cha lua taste like?

Chả Lụa is seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, and garlic. Generally, Chả Lụa in the South tends to have a slightly sweeter taste compared to the Northern one.

What meat is cha lua?

Chả Lụa is made with pork. You could substitute the pork with chicken or turkey. Just don’t use beef to make Chả Lụa.

What do you eat with cha lua?

You could eat chả lụa with steamed rice, sticky rice, and many Vietnamese dishes like Bánh Mì, Bánh Cuốn, Bánh Giò, Bánh Bèo…

Why doesn’t homemade Chả Lụa look as smooth and white as the store-bought ones?

Store-bought Chả Lụa typically contains more filler, such as additional starch, and may include certain food additives. Additionally, they often use lard instead of cooking oil.
This is similar to how Bánh Bao (steamed buns) appears whiter when using lard instead of cooking oil to make the dough.

Why does my Chả Lụa look crumbly?

This suggests that the pork mixture hasn’t undergone proper protein extraction. It could be due to insufficient mixing or failure to keep the mixture and the working bowl at a cold temperature.

🍜 Fall in love with more authentic Vietnamese recipes

Bánh Xèo - Vietnamese sizzling crepes with shrimp, pork, and mung bean sprouts, served with fresh herbs and dipping sauce.

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes)


Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes) are irresistibly crispy, savory treats that happen to be gluten-free.

Every time I indulge in Bánh Xèo with a side of Nước Chấm (dipping fish sauce) and Đồ Chua (pickled carrot & daikon), I’m instantly transported to the vibrant streets of Saigon.

Of course, once you love Bánh Xèo, you can’t miss out on its little sister, Bánh Khọt.

Vietnamesse flan

Bánh Flan (Vietnamese Flan)

During my childhood in Vietnam, bánh flan, sinh tố bơ (avocado smoothie), and kem chuối (coconut & banana ice cream) were my most beloved treats.

The real deal Bánh Flan is made from sweetened condensed milk and served with Vietnamese Iced Coffee , a bitter-sweet combination no one can resist.

A delicious plate of Banh Trang Nuong, also known as Vietnamese rice paper pizza. This Vietnamese pizza recipe features a crispy rice paper base topped with a variety of flavorful ingredients, resulting in a mouthwatering and unique culinary delight.

Vietnamese Pizza (Bánh Tráng Nướng)

Bánh Tráng Nướng is a popular street food in Đà Lạt. It can be made in 15 minutes and easily veganized

Explore my collection of recipes with rice papers , from traditional Hanoi fried spring rolls to creative rice paper noodles.

Thank you for trying my recipe!! Don’t forget to stay in touch with me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and YouTube 🥰.

Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)

Chả Lụa / Giò Lụa (Vietnamese Pork Roll / Vietnamese Ham)

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Chả Lụa is a beloved local sausage in Vietnamese cuisine, featuring in various dishes from the North to the South. It is the pork paste wrapped in banana leaves, shaped into a sizable log, and then steamed or boiled until fully cooked.
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Course Appetizer, Family meal, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor  (or 1 stand mixer with the flat beater attachment)

Ingredients
  

  • 0.9 pound pork loin (400g)
  • 0.2 pound chicken breast / chicken tender (100g) (you can use only pork)
  • 1 tbsp Red Boat fish sauce
  • 1.5 tsp chicken powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp potato starch (or tapioca starch, cornstarch)
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder (read my note at the end)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder (or onion powder)
  • ½ tbsp peppercorns (to your taste)
  • Banana leaves
  • Aluminum foil

Instructions
 

Marinate the meat

  • Cut the pork and chicken into thin strips.
    If you're using a stand mixer to beat the meat, you'll have to grind it at this stage.
  • Marinate the meat with all the other ingredients (except for the peppercorns).
  • Put the mixture into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and spread it evenly to create a layer about 0.4 inches (1 cm) thick.
  • Put this bag in the freezer and leave it for 3-4 hours until it's partially frozen. If you're unable to make it within a day, simply keep it in the freezer. When you're ready to cook, let it sit at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours until it thaws to a partially frozen state.
  • Before processing the meat, cut the partially frozen mixture into smaller pieces with scissors or a knife.

With a food processor (for a small batch 0.4-0.7 pounds or 200-300 grams)

  • For larger batches, divide the meat mixture into 2 or 3 portions.
  • Begin by pulsing the meat mixture at the lowest power setting. After 2-3 pulses, scrape down the sides of the work bowl and push any remaining meat into the blades.
  • After pulsing about 10 times, you can increase the speed to high for 7-10 seconds. Don't forget to stir the meat occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the peppercorns if you like.
  • The paste is ready when it reaches a smooth, paler, and fluffy texture. When using a spoon to scoop the paste, it should stick to the spoon.
  • Transfer this pork paste to a bowl and continute with the second batch until all the meat is finished.
  • Return all of the pork paste to the ziploc bag. Drop the bag containing the pork paste onto the stovetop about 50 times. This step will help to give a springy texture to your Chả Lụa.
    Another option is to use a hand mixer with dough hooks, beating the mixture for one minute. Remember to work with only 0.4-0.7 pounds (200-300 grams) at a time.

With a stand mixer (for a larger batch 1.1 pounds or 500 grams)

  • Pound the mixture with the lowest speed for 2 minutes.
  • Increase the speed to medium and continue beating for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Finally, switch to the highest setting and beat for another 3-5 minutes while adding peppercorns.
  • The paste is done when it looks smooth, paler, and fluffy, and sticks to the spoon when scooped.

Wrap and Roll

  • Defrost the banana leaves, then wash, rinse, and pat dry them.
  • Place a banana leaf on a piece of aluminum foil (twice the size of the leaf) and place the pork paste in the center.
  • With damp hands, mold the pork paste into a log shape, ensuring there are no air pockets.
  • Cover the log with another banana leaf, folding the sides to enclose the roll securely.
  • Wrap the pork roll tightly with aluminum foil to retain its shape throughout cooking.

Steam the roll

  • Place the pork roll in a steamer and steam for 45-50 minutes.
  • Once cooked, allow it to cool completely. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to a month.

Notes

  • Use fresh meat with the longest expiry date.
  • Check the meat’s temperature with a thermometer (if you have). If it exceeds 41°F (5°C), refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before proceeding.
  • Avoid overloading your food processor or stand mixer.
  • Keep the work bowl cold. If you don’t notice condensation forming on the outside of your work bowl, pause immediately. Place the bowl (with the meat) in the fridge for 30 minutes before working with it again.
  • Baking powder: In Germany, just go with Dr. Oetker baking powder. In the U.S. while many suggest Alsa single-acting baking powder, double-acting baking powder is also suitable. Just ensure “SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE” or SAPP is listed in the ingredients.
  • My friend, who lives in the States, recommends ARGO double-acting baking powder and Dr. Oetker baking powder. She made Chả Lụa successfully with them.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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