What is “broken rice” and what is “comtam”?

Com Tam (Cơm Tấm) is a popular rice dish in the southern region of Vietnam, especially in Saigon.

Kom tam, meaning “broken rice,” is prepared from the broken grains during the milling process. Egg rolls, sausage, and eggs are served with sweet fish sauce (nukumam).

Rice cooked with crushed rice

The key ingredient in kom tam is, of course, rice. At first, it was considered a dish eaten by poor commoners and students, since the crushed rice was left over from the milling process.

Even in Vietnam, where demand for comtam is high, round rice grains are crushed to process crushed rice daily.

The traditional method is to cook the rice in an earthenware or cast-iron pot over a wood fire, but nowadays the “steaming” method is often used to shorten the cooking time. Crushed rice must be soaked in water for several hours to soften before cooking.

Saigonese used to eat crushed rice daily, but now eat a meal with main and side dishes.

In the mid-20th century, as Saigon grew economically, com tam’s interesting appearance caught people’s attention, and it has now become a popular dish among tourists.

Today, gomtang is usually served on a platter with rice, meat, and vegetables.

Sweet and spicy sauce using nukumam

Vietnamese fish sauce (nucumam) is made differently in every dish.

The fish sauce when served with kom tam is sweet, filtered water, and sugar only, but it is also available with lime, garlic, and chili.

Other Materials

Combination of crushed rice, sweet and spicy fish sauce, and other meats and vegetables.

Fried Eggs (Chả trứng)

Vietnamese “omelette” is a steamed mixture of backed pork, egg, beef noodle, cat’s-mushroom, green onion, and spices.

The dish is topped with an egg yolk, which looks beautiful and the savory aroma is appetizing.


Clean the pork skin, boil quickly until cooked through, slice and mix with spices.

grilled ribs

Kalbi is marinated in sweet and sour spices and grilled over a fragrant charcoal fire.


Many restaurants use half-boiled eggs.

Japanese pickled vegetables

Crushed rice is used with sour pickles such as radishes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and papayas.

Fascinating Vietnamese Breakfast Culture
Fa Lau, a popular southern Vietnamese dish of Bain Mee
Bun, a regular rice noodle dish born in Vietnam
History of the Vietnamese sandwich “Bahn Mi