Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)

Chả Lụa (Vietnamese Ham)

Eating cha lua reminds me of the time when I lived in Vietnam. Well… to be honest, almost all Vietnamese dishes reminds me of my time in Vietnam haha. However, this one is quite memorable as it is present in many of the dishes I love such as Vietnamese rice rolls (banh cuon), sandwiches (banh mi), sticky rice (xoi man), etc. You can also eat it by itself as a snack! 

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Chill Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes | Total Time: 3 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 3-4


  • 2 pounds of ground pork
  • 5 tablespoons of ice cold water
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of potato starch or tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon of single acting baking powder (see note #1)
  • 6 sheets of banana leaves, 10×10 inches
  • Twine
  1. I use the Alsa brand. 1 teaspoon should be about half the bag. After bragging with my mom that I successfully made cha lua, she asked if I added borax into the meat mixture. It appears small amount of borax is typically added to achieve the signature bounciness of cha lua. However, I’m happy to say that the single acting baking powder is a great alternative as the cha lua turned out to be bouncy!


  1. Combine water, fish sauce, oil, sugar, potato starch/tapioca flour, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Mix well. 
  2. Add baking powder into the sauce mixture and stir until it is fully dissolved and incorporated.
  3. Add pork into the stand mixer and pour in the sauce mixture. Use the flat beater and mix on low for 3-4 minutes, until the ingredients are well combined. 
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large flat metal pan and chill in the freezer for about 3 hours. 
  5. Remove half of the meat mixture from the freezer and place it into a food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat 5-6 times.
  6. Transfer the processed pork to a large piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a log. Wrap the log and bounce the log on your work surface several times to remove the air bubbles. Place the log into the fridge to chill. Repeat with the second half and let it chill in the fridge along with the first roll for 25 minutes.
  7. Clean the banana leaves by dipping it in hot water for a few seconds. Remove and dry with paper towel.
  8. Put the first banana leaf down with the veins running vertically onto a hard working surface.  Then place the second banana leaf on top of the first one with the veins running horizontal, it should be perpendicular to the first leaf. Lastly, place the third leaf with the veins running vertically like the first leaf, with shiny side up. Brush a thin layer of vegetable or canola oil on the top leaf.
  9. Take the first roll out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Place the roll horizontally in the center of the oiled banana leaves. Bring the banana leaves together at the top (lengthwise) and then fold the leaves down onto one side until they are snug against the roll. 
  10. Like folding a present, fold down the one end and stand the roll up vertically.  Cut off the excess banana leaves at the top end with scissors. Fold down the leaves covering the end then flip the roll to the other end and repeat. Tie the log with twine loosely to give room for the meat mixture to expand. 
  11. Fill a steamer basin with 3-4 cups of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low once water comes to a boil. Place the two pork rolls inside the steamer tray and steam for 25 minutes. Remove and let it cool for 20 minutes.
  12. Slice it up and enjoy!

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