Măm Chưng

Mắm Chưng (Vietnamese Steamed Egg Meatloaf With Salted Fish)

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Mắm Chưng is a specialty of the Mekong Delta Region (aka Miền Tây in Vietnamese). You’ll easily find it at the bustling Vietnamese street food stalls where they serve up Cơm Bình Dân (commoner’s rice).

Mắm Chưng is my ultimate comfort food, a sneaky little rice thief that somehow convinces me to polish off at least two bowls of steamed rice every time it’s on my plate.

Măm Chưng

🙋‍♀️ What is Mắm Chưng?

In Vietnamese, “Chưng” means steamed, while “Mắm” means fermented/preserved aquatic animals. This Mắm Chưng is actually a steamed egg meatloaf with salted or preserved fish.

It looks quite similar to Chả Trứng Hấp, the steamed egg meatloaf in Cơm Tấm (broken rice platter). Even in Vietnam, many people confuse the two dishes.

Măm Chưng

In Vietnamese cuisine, Mắm has a broad definition. It could refer to Nước Mắm aka fish sauce, which we use for seasoning or making Nước Chấm (dipping fish sauce) or Nước Mắm Gừng (ginger fish sauce). It could also denote Mắm Nêm, the fermented anchovy sauce.

Mắm could represent Mắm Tôm (the Northern fermented shrimp paste), used in many Northern dishes such as Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm, Bún Mọc, Chả Cá Lã Vọng, or Bún Riêu.

Besides, it could signify Mắm Ruốc (the Central fermented shrimp paste), which is essential for Bún Bò Huế or Thịt Heo Xào Mắm Ruốc.

Some Mắm has a very pungent smell and is not for the faint-hearted palate (even many Vietnamese people can’t handle it, lol), but luckily, the aroma of this Mắm Chưng is quite mild.

All in all, Mắm is an integral part of our culture and cuisine, and each region will have its signature Mắm for their local dishes.

Food in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta area is highly influenced by Khmer cuisine, especially in An Giang province, which borders Cambodia.

Măm An Giang
Preserved fish market in An Giang. Credit: Tuoitre

Most Mắm here is made from fermented or salted fish from the Mekong River and is influenced by Cambodian Pra Hok (or what we call “Mắm Bò Hóc” in Vietnamese). Actually, Mắm Chưng is the steamed Pra Hok.

🐟 Ingredients

The only exotic ingredient you’ll need here is the preserved fish. Some preserved/salted fish I could recommend for making Mắm Chưng are:

  • Mắm Cá Lóc (salted snakehead fish)
  • Mắm Cá Linh (salted dorab fish)
  • Mắm Cá Sặc (salted gouramy fish)
  • Mắm Cá Trèn (salted sheatfish)
  • Mắm Cá Thu (salted mackerel)

Local Vietnamese cooks often suggest combining two or three types of fermented fish for the best flavor, but you could use just one type. Today, I used Mắm Cá Lóc and Mắm Cá Sặc.

Preserved snakehead fish and preserved gouramy fish.

Other ingredients include ground pork, eggs (in Vietnam, we often use duck eggs) and aromatics such as garlic, shallots, scallions, ginger, and Thai chili (optional).

You also needs some seasonings like sugar, ground pepper and MSG to balance the flavor of the salted fish.

Ingredients for Mắm Chưng

📝 Instructions

This step is optional:

  • Finely chop the garlic, shallot, ginger, and the white part of scallions.
  • Sauté the aromatics with some cooking oil until fragrant. Let them cool down completely.
  • Although optional, this step could significantly enhance the flavor of Mắm Chưng, so I never skip it.
Sautéd garlic, shallot, scallion and ginger.

Prepare the salted fish:

  • Some preserved fish is ground, while some are whole fish, especially the Mắm Cá Lóc (salted snakehead fish). If it still has bones, remove them. Mine is boneless.
preserved snakehead fish
Preserved snakehead fish
  • Finely chop the whole fish with the aromatics. I prefer to use my food processor to save time. You could add some Thai chilies in this step since chilies could help reduce the fishy smell of Mắm, but it’s optional.
blend the preserved fish with all aromatics.
the blended mixture

Mix all ingredients and steam:

  • Combine the salted fish (with the aromatics), ground pork, chopped green part of scallions, and eggs (save some egg yolks to make the yellow egg top). Season with sugar, MSG, and ground pepper.
  • Grease your baking mold or the bowl with some cooking oil (it helps to easily remove the steamed meatloaf when serving).
  • Pour the mixture into the bowl. Create an X mark at the center of your meatloaf; this will help create a more level surface after steaming.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Mắm Chưng mixture in a bowl
  • Steam it over low-medium heat for around 30-40 minutes. Check with the toothpick test.
  • Whisk the leftover egg yolk. I mix in some annatto oil since I like it with a brighter color.
  • Pour the egg yolks over the steamed meatloaf. Use a spoon to spread them evenly over the surface. You could garnish with some sliced chili to make it look nicer. Steam for a few minutes until the top sets WITHOUT covering the lid.
The egg yolks mixed with annatto oil.
Add the egg yolk on top of the steamed meatloaf.
  • Serve Mắm Chưng hot with some steamed rice (my microwaved jasmine rice is super quick and easy), sliced cucumber, and blanched vegetables.
Mắm Chưng

🌟 Helpful Tips

  • You could incorporate some minced shrimp or crab meat into the ground pork mixture to enhance the flavor. Sometimes, I have leftover crab meat from Súp Măng Cua (Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup) and Chả Giò (Vietnamese Egg Rolls) and I add it to my Mắm Chưng.
  • To ensure the flavor of your steamed meatloaf, microwave a small portion and taste it. You can adjust the flavor by adding some sugar, MSG, or a bit more ground pork. This method is similar to how I make Xíu Mại (Vietnamese meatballs).
  • When mixing ingredients, it’s better to use your hand while wearing a disposable plastic glove.
  • I recommend using two or three types of preserved fish if you have them on hand, but using just one also works fine.

🍜 More authentic recipes from the Mekong Delta (Miền Tây)

A plate of Com Ga Roti, featuring perfectly cooked chicken thighs glazed in a savory sauce, served with steamed rice. A delicious Vietnamese culinary delight."

Gà Rô Ti (Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken)

Originating from Miền Tây (the Mekong Delta region), Gà Rô Ti is surprisingly not roasted chicken. Instead, chicken is cooked in coconut water, resulting in a sweet and savory glaze that is incredibly flavorful.

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

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Pancakes)

These Southern Bánh Xèo pancakes are crispy, gluten-free, and relatively easy to make at home compared to many other Vietnamese dishes .

Of course, don’t forget Nước Chấm dipping sauce and carrot & daikon pickles.

Goi Cuon Vietnamese fresh spring rolls 4

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

Together with Bò Bía , these Gỏi Cuốn rolls originated from Miền Tây and have gained popularity throughout Vietnam.

My Peanut Sauce, paired with a drizzle of Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Oil, is a standout accompaniment since I learned these recipes from a lunch lady in Saigon.

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

Măm Chưng

Mắm Chưng (Vietnamese Steamed Egg Meatloaf With Salted Fish)

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Mắm Chưng, originating from the Mekong Delta Region, is truly my comfort food—this delightful egg meatloaf infused with salted fish is indeed a rice thief.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Family meal, Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor

Ingredients
  

  • 0.7 pound ground pork (320g)
  • 5 oz boneless salted snakehead fish (140g) (if using just one type of salted fish, use 7oz/200g in total)
  • 2 oz ground salted gouramy fish (60g)
  • 6 eggs (separating 2 egg yolks to make the yellow top layer)
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp MSG (optional)
  • ½ tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 sprig scallion (seperating the white and green parts then finely chop)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 big clove garlic
  • 2 small slices ginger (7g)
  • 1 tbsp annatto oil (or cooking oil)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (to sauté the aromatics)

Instructions
 

Optional step:

  • Finely mince the shallot, garlic ginger, and the white part of scallions.
  • Sauté all these ingredients in cooking oil until fragrant. Allow them to cool down completely.
  • While optional, this step can significantly enhance the flavor of Mắm Chưng.

Prepare the preserved fish:

  • Some preserved fish is ground, while others are whole fish, especially the preserved snakehead fish. If it still has bones, remove them.
  • Finely chop the whole fish with the aromatics. I prefer to use my food processor to save time. You could add some Thai chilies in this step since chilies could help reduce the fishy smell of Mắm.

Steam Mắm Chưng:

  • Mix together the preserved fish, ground pork, green part of scallions, and eggs (reserving two egg yolks to make the yellow egg top). Season the mixture with sugar, MSG, and ground pepper.
  • Apply a thin layer of cooking oil to grease your baking mold or bowl (this helps to take out the steamed meatloaf easily).
  • Pour the mixture into the bowl. Make an X mark at the center of your meatloaf; this will help ensure the meatloaf has a level surface after steaming.
  • Steam it over low-medium heat for around 30-40 minutes. Check with the toothpick test to ensure it's cooked through.
  • Whisk the remaining egg yolk with some annatto oil (for a brighter color) or cooking oil.
  • Pour the egg yolks over the steamed meatloaf. Use a spoon to spread them evenly over the surface. Optionally, garnish with some sliced chili to make it more appealing. Steam for a few minutes until the top sets without covering the lid.
  • Serve Mắm Chưng hot with steamed rice, sliced cucumber, sliced eggplant and blanched vegetables.
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