If you have ever visited Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, you must have heard about Com Tam. It’s one of the iconic dishes of Saigon; as a result, broken rice has become popular in many places, especially in the United States, where the largest Vietnamese community resides. Let me share with you how to cook broken rice the right way using a rice cooker, so you can easily incorporate it into Com Tam or other dishes.

how to cook broken rice
Cooked broken rice

What is Broken Rice (Gao Tam)?

Broken rice, known as “gạo tấm” in Vietnamese, is a type of rice that is fractured during the milling process. It is commonly consumed in Vietnamese cuisine and is particularly popular in southern Vietnam. Broken rice grains are shorter and smaller compared to regular long-grain rice.

Broken rice is prized for its unique texture and ability to absorb flavors better, thanks to its relatively smaller size than regular rice. It requires a shorter cooking time, and its texture is interesting too. The grains of broken rice, after cooking, do not become sticky with each other but remain soft and elastic. Moreover, broken rice grains may have a higher nutritional value than regular rice grains because they often include the embryo of the rice grain.

Applications of Broken Rice

In Vietnamese cuisine, cooked broken rice is an irreplaceable component of Com Tam. It’s a staple street food and is also commonly found in restaurants across Vietnam, especially in Saigon. There are various accompaniments served with cooked broken rice, such as grilled pork chops (suon nuong), shredded pork skin (bi), steamed egg meatloaf (cha trung), pickled carrots and daikon, fried eggs, and fish sauce-based dipping sauce (nuoc cham). Besides, broken rice is perfect for making porridge or congee thanks to its small size, which reduces cooking time.

In the past, in Vietnam, the price of broken rice was usually lower than that of regular rice because it was the fragmented part obtained from the rice milling process. However, nowadays, the price of broken rice is equivalent, or even higher, than regular rice varieties when exported to other countries. On the other hand, delicious and nutritious broken rice will definitely bring a unique experience to you.

How To Cook Broken Rice for Com Tam

Cooking broken rice is quite similar to cooking other long-grain rice like jasmine rice; however, it still has some differences in preparation and the ratio between rice and water. Here’s how to cook broken rice to incorporate it into Com Tam.

  • Step 1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Rinsing the rice helps to remove excess starch and any impurities, while soaking the rice allows it to absorb some water, which helps it cook more evenly and prevents it from becoming too sticky. After soaking, rinse the rice again and drain all the water.
how to cook broken rice
Broken rice after soaking
  • Step 2. Estimate the amount of water to mix with broken rice. Normally, the amount of water is equal to the amount of rice; for example, if you cook 1 cup of broken rice, add 1 cup of water to the cooking pot. You should follow the correct proportion to achieve the best result, neither too dry nor too wet and sticky.
how to cook broken rice
  • Step 3. Turn on the rice cooker (set to “Cook” mode) and let it cook until done (it switches to “Warm” mode). Depending on the rice cooker, this typically takes around 15-25 minutes. Avoid opening the rice cooker lid during the cooking process to prevent steam from escaping, which can interfere with the cooking and result in unevenly cooked rice. Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot.
how to cook broken rice

How To Cook Congee/Porridge with Broken Rice

To cook porridge or congee, the ratio between broken rice and water will be different. Here’s how to cook broken rice into porridge or congee:

  • Step 1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 30 minutes or more, ensuring that the rice absorbs water fully.
  • Step 2. Boil water over high heat. The amount of water should be 3-5 times more than the amount of rice, depending on how thick you prefer your congee/porridge. Once the water boils, add the soaked broken rice.
  • Step 3. Cook it for an additional 30-40 minutes until the rice puffs up completely. Stir the porridge regularly to prevent burning and sticking at the bottom of the pot. Finally, add seasonings such as salt or fish sauce to the porridge.

Easy, isn’t it? In case you would like to store cooked broken rice for a longer time, let it cool down completely, transfer it to an airtight container, and store it in the fridge for no longer than 2 days. Simply reheat your rice in a microwave. Alternatively, you can spray some water on it, return it to a rice cooker, set it to “cook” mode, and wait until it switches to “warm” mode.

how to cook broken rice

How To Cook Broken Rice (Gao Tam)

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Let me share with you how to cook broken rice the right way using a rice cooker, so you can easily incorporate it into Com Tam or others.

Ingredients

Instructions

How To Cook Broken Rice for Com Tam

  • Step 1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Rinsing the rice helps to remove excess starch and any impurities, while soaking the rice allows it to absorb some water, which helps it cook more evenly and prevents it from becoming too sticky. how to cook broken rice
  • After soaking, rinse the rice again and drain all the water.how to cook broken rice
  • Step 2. Estimate the amount of water to mix with broken rice. Normally, the amount of water is equal to the amount of rice; for example, if you cook 1 cup of broken rice, add 1 cup of water to the cooking pot. You should follow the correct proportion to achieve the best result, neither too dry nor too wet and sticky.how to cook broken rice
  • Step 3. Turn on the rice cooker (set to “Cook” mode) and let it cook until done (it switches to “Warm” mode). Depending on the rice cooker, this typically takes around 15-25 minutes. Avoid opening the rice cooker lid during the cooking process to prevent steam from escaping, which can interfere with the cooking and result in unevenly cooked rice. how to cook broken rice
  • Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot. how to cook broken rice

How To Cook Congee/Porridge with Broken Rice

To cook porridge or congee, the ratio between broken rice and water will be different. Here’s how to cook broken rice into porridge or congee:

  • Step 1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 30 minutes or more, ensuring that the rice absorbs water fully.
  • Step 2. Boil water over high heat. The amount of water should be 3-5 times more than the amount of rice, depending on how thick you prefer your congee/porridge. Once the water boils, add the soaked broken rice.
  • Step 3. Cook it for an additional 30-40 minutes until the rice puffs up completely. Stir the porridge regularly to prevent burning and sticking at the bottom of the pot. Finally, add seasonings such as salt or fish sauce to the porridge.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145

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