Dinner Plate Travails

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Vietnamese pork patties (cha)

Ba's patties

My mom makes delicious, juicy pork patties. In Vietnam, they are made with fresh pork meat and fat, laboriously minced by hand into a smooth paste. My mom’s modernized version uses ground pork and a food processor; the rest of the recipe is pretty authentic. The cinnamon is inspired by the version made in Hue, central Vietnam.

We eat it in thin slices (like deli) in sandwiches (banh mi–with pate, pickled carrots, and coriander); with steamed rice rolls (banh cuon); on steamed rice with some vegetables. When she makes it, we all grab a fresh piece soon as it comes out from the oven, the skin still crispy! Recently, she showed us how to make it, and I am sharing her recipe.

3lbs ground pork

11 grams baking powder

100 ml water

75 ml cooking oil

75 ml fish sauce

3 tsp potato starch

1 tsp sugar

pinch ground black pepper

pinch ground cinnamon

pinch msg (optional)

Dissolve the baking powder in water. Mix all ingredients together well. On a cooking sheet, lay out the meat mixture in 1 inch thick portions; cover and put in freezer for 6-8 hours. By freezing the meat before processing, it prevents the food processor from heating up the meat and cooking it pre-maturely and doesn’t achieve the crunchy, chewy texture we want.

After 6-8 hours in the freezer, remove the near-frozen meat and grind smooth in a food processor. Place the processed meat into well-oiled trays, about 1-2 inches thick. Brush the raw patties with the annatto colouring for a red appearance traditionally found in Vietnamese patties.  Pre-heat oven to 355 F and bake uncovered for 35 min. Increase oven temperature to 375 F and bake further for 10 min. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

These patties freeze very well! Let the patties cool then wrap tightly in foil and place in a freezer bag. To reheat frozen patties and get that crispy outer skin, place in toaster oven for 15 min at 375 F

To make colouring (optional): pour about 3 tbsp of hot oil on about 1 tbsp of annatto seeds. Let  sit for 1/2 hour for the colour to infuse the oil, then discard seeds.