Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua / Gio Lua)

This easy recipe for Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua / Gio Lua) makes a seasoned, finely-ground pork wrapped in aromatic banana leaves and then delicately steamed to perfection.  Also known as Vietnamese Ham, Steamed Pork Roll is 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 Steamed Pork Roll recipe and in future posts I’ll share more scrumptious recipes using the pork roll mixture.  Enjoy!

Watch the video for instructions.

Notes on the Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua / Gio Lua) Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Use pork with fat; it’s important.  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. 🙂

Steamed Pork Roll also called Vietnamese Ham--The best recipe EVER! | recipe from runawayrice.com

I typically grind the pork (using my KitchenAid stand mixer with the food grinder attachment) at home.  If you opt to do this, select pork butt or pork shoulder, cuts which are nicely marbled.

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.

Quick and easy way to clean and store banana leaves | runawayrice.com

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? 🙂

Steamed Pork Roll also called Vietnamese Ham | recipe from runawayrice.com

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.

These Steamed Pork 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.

If you enjoy this Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua / Gio Lua) recipe, you may also like: 

 

Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua / Gio Lua)

Steamed Pork Roll also called Vietnamese Ham is a popular food served during Lunar Lunar Year | recipe from runawayrice.com

Ingredients

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″

Directions

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.

Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy the Steamed Pork Rolls within the week. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Yields: 2 rolls, approximately 1 lb each

Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua) - No-fail recipe your family will love! | recipe from runawayrice.com

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

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49 Responses to Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua / Gio Lua)

  1. Susan December 29, 2018 at 2:25 pm #

    Can you use chicken instead of pork?

    • Trang December 29, 2018 at 7:04 pm #

      Definitely! It’s delicious. Enjoy!

  2. lynn November 3, 2018 at 11:18 am #

    I cant thank you enough. Your recipes are easy to follow and i feel like a professional chef now.

    • Trang November 4, 2018 at 9:06 am #

      Hi Lynn,
      You’re very welcome! I am so glad to hear that! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Cooking! 🙂

  3. Cô Sa October 31, 2018 at 5:24 am #

    A traditional Vietnamese food, I like it very much.

    • Trang November 3, 2018 at 9:06 am #

      Thank you! It’s one of our most loved foods! 🙂

  4. dee February 6, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi Trang, can I use the same ingredients for Gio Ga Nam Huong ? .
    Thanks, Dee

    • Trang February 23, 2018 at 6:55 pm #

      Hi Dee,
      You can use this recipe and substitute with the ingredients for Gio Ga Nam Huong.

  5. Maureen Marriott January 7, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

    Thanks for the recipe and the great clear instructions and the video. I have seen some recipes that also call for garlic powder. Wondering if you have left it out for a reason.

    • Trang January 13, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

      Hi Maureen,
      I find garlic powder to have a strong aroma and don’t use it in this recipe. Feel free to add if you like it.

  6. Linda thai December 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi
    My Cha Lua is not consistent. Sometimes good results and other times the texture is not chewy and look darker. I followed your recipe but can’t figure out what went wrong. Does the type meat makes a difference? What is the trick to have whiter, chewy texture?

    • Trang January 13, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi Linda,
      They type of meat and freshness of the meat make a difference. Use a ground pork with at least 20% fat. A less fatty mixture yields a darker pork roll. Also have you noticed fresh meat oxidizes and turns brown when refrigerated for a few days? Keep this in mind with this recipe. If buying fresh meat from the grocery store or butcher, use it right away while it’s still nice and pink and your cha lua will be whiter. The chewy texture has to do with the freezing and processing technique. Be sure to keep the meat cold at all times during processing. I hope that helps with your next try. Good Luck!

  7. Kitty July 16, 2017 at 6:12 am #

    Hi Trang

    I just want to know if I can still make this if I don’t have a food processor?

    • Trang July 24, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      Hi Kitty,
      Yes, you can grind the meat by hand using a wooden pestle or heavy spoon. (This is what grandmother use to do back in the day.) Try to buy pork that is double-ground so it’s less work for you. Work in small batches so the meat stays cold at all times. It’s a lot of manual effort but works just fine. Good Luck!

  8. Anon December 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

    Thank you for the recipe and wonderfully video tutorials. I made the cha lua today and the texture was right on. I didn’t have banana leaves on hand, so used saran wrap and tied the rolls with string. I had to steam for 50 minutes. I used Alsa baking powder, but will try with double acting powder next tome.

    • Trang December 4, 2016 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Anon,
      I am glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe. Saran wrap instead of banana leaves works great as does the Alsa baking powder. Thanks for stopping by to share your results. 🙂

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