Steamed Pork Roll is a mildly-seasoned, finely-ground pork wrapped in aromatic banana leaves and then steamed to perfection. Also known as Vietnamese Ham, it’s a popular ingredient in sandwiches and many Asian dishes. This easy, no-fail recipe shares all the tips and tricks for making this successfully at home. No more buying at the store where the quality of the meat is suspect and the product is loaded with fillers, preservatives and MSG. There’s nothing but healthy goodness in this recipe. Learn this basic recipe and in future posts I’ll share more scrumptious recipes using the pork roll mixture. Enjoy!
Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks
Definitely use pork with fat. I use 80/20 (80% lean/20% fat) ground pork and this combination yields a juicy pork roll. Of course, you can use more fat if you’d like. 🙂
Check out my earlier post for Preparing Banana Leaves. Prep the leaves a day or so in advance and have them ready.
If you have difficulty finding banana leaves or just want to skip it altogether, you can use parchment paper.
Either single-acting or double-acting baking powder will work just fine. I add the baking powder last so it doesn’t foam up and make it difficult to combine all of the ingredients well. Even though it is not foaming, it still needs to be fresh!
I prefer potato starch in this recipe. It helps to give the texture just the right amount of “springiness” (“dai” is what we call it in Vietnamese). If you don’t have potato starch, you can substitute with tapioca starch or corn starch but the difference will be noticeable.
Chill times may vary depending on your freezer. The pork should be firm and solid (Note how I was able to cut it into rectangular sections) but not completely frozen. Chilling the pork is also key to achieving the springy texture so it’s important to time this right.
The technique of processing the pork is really important. First, you want to be careful not to overwork your food processor and burn out the motor. Therefore, pulse instead of processing continuously. This also avoids heating up the food processor which can warm the meat. During processing, the meat needs to remain cold. If it gets warm, put it back in the freezer for 10 minutes and then resume the processing. Letting the meat get warm will result in mushy pork rolls.
If you’d like your pork rolls to be more uniform, use an empty soup can. Remove both ends of the can first. Put the roll inside the empty can and use it to shape your log. Nice trick, right? 🙂
The twine is not really necessary when using the plastic wrap because it does a great job of keeping everything bound. The shortcut here is that it’s easier to tie the twine around the plastic wrap then the banana leaves. However, if you’re crafty, you can tie the twine around the banana leaves and then wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap. This makes the pork rolls look really pretty if you’re thinking about giving these as gifts for Lunar New Year.
The pork rolls are delicately steamed with minimal water over Low heat for the entire time. Too much steam will cause the pork rolls to super expand and then shrink when cooled, resulting in a wrinkly pork roll.
Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy within the week.
These rolls are great to make and freeze for later enjoying. If freezing, do not remove the banana leaves. Wrap the Steamed Pork Rolls with foil and then store in a freezer bag. They are good for up to 6 months.
For quick and easy meals, make a sandwich or add to salads, soups and noodle soups.
2 lbs 80/20 ground pork
4 Tbsp ice water
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
3/4 tsp baking powder
6 banana leaves cleaned, approximately 14″x14″
In a small bowl combine the ice water, fish sauce, vegetable oil, sugar, potato starch and ground white pepper and combine well. Now add the baking powder and combine.
Put the ground pork into the mixing bowl. Pour in the marinade. Using a flat beater, mix on Low speed for 3-4 minutes or until all of the ingredients are well combined.
Transfer the pork into a large metal pan. Spread out the meat into a thin and even layer.
Place the pan into the freezer and chill for 3 hours or until the pork is solid but not completely frozen.
Divide the pork into 8 equal pieces. Transfer half, 4 pieces, into a bowl and return the metal pan to the freezer.
Transfer 2 pieces of the pork into the food processor. Pulse for 10 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. (This is one cycle.) Repeat for 5 cycles.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and push the meat into the blade. Continue the pulse-rest-scrape until the pork is finely ground. (This takes approximately 5 minutes.) Transfer the pork into another bowl.
Repeat the same process with the other 2 pieces of pork. Once done, add the first batch back into the food processor and pulse for 30 seconds, combining both batches well.
Transfer the processed pork onto a large piece of plastic wrap and then use the plastic wrap to shape into a log. Bounce the log against the hard work surface a few times to remove some of the air bubbles.
Smooth out the roll and shape into a log. Place in the refrigerator.
Remove the remaining portion from the freezer and repeat the same steps as above to make the second pork roll.
Put into the refrigerator and chill both logs for another 20 minutes.
Place the first banana leaf down with the veins running vertically. Place the second banana leaf on top of the first one with the veins running horizontally. For the third leaf, place the darker green, shiny side face-up with the veins running vertically. Brush a thin layer of vegetable oil on the top leaf.
Remove the plastic wrap from one roll and place horizontally on the banana leaves. Bring the banana leaves together at the top and then fold the leaves down until they are snug against the roll.
Fold down the one end and stand up the roll. Cut off the excess banana leaves using scissors. Fold down the leaves covering the end.
Flip the roll onto the other end and repeat the same process.
Wrap the entire roll in plastic wrap. Gently roll on the work surface, shaping into a uniform log.
Loosely tie the log with twine.
Fill 1/4 of a steamer basin with water and bring to a boil over High heat. Reduce the heat to Low.
Add the steamer tray with the two pork rolls and steam for 20 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
To serve, remove the banana leaves and cut into slices or wedges.
Yields: 2 rolls, approximately 1 lb each
Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen
Want recipe using Steamed Pork Roll? Here are some of my favorites: Savory Rolled Cakes (Banh Cuon) and Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg (Bun Thang)
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