Cơm tấm, or broken rice, is a Vietnamese dish made from rice with fractured rice grains. Tấm refers to the broken rice grains, while cơm refers to cooked rice. Although there are varied names like Cơm tấm Sài Gòn (Saigon-style broken rice), particularly for Saigon, the main ingredients remain the same for most cases.
It is usually served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish bì (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. The rice and meat are served with various greens and pickled vegetables, along with a prawn paste cake, trứng hấp (steamed egg), and grilled prawns. Typically, restaurants will serve this popular combination rice plate with a small bowl of nước mắm, as well as a small bowl of soup broth (canh) with garlic chives (to cleanse the throat). The dish cơm tấm bì comes with a chả trứng egg meatloaf. Nowaday, Cơm tấm is also served with Omelette.
The main ingredient, broken rice, is a traditionally cheaper grade of rice produced by damage in milling. It is mainly used as a food industry ingredient in America and Europe, but in West Africa and South East Asia is used for human consumption. Broken rice is fragmented, not defective; there is nothing wrong with it. It is as nutritious as the equivalent unbroken rice (i.e. if all the germ and bran remains, it is as nutritious as brown rice; if none remains, it is only as nutritious as white rice).
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