Mắm chưng thịt is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a blend of pork or chicken, crab meat, salted fish fillet in brine, bean thread noodles, mushrooms and eggs.
For this recipe, I used a mix of chicken breast and thighs. The flavor is reminiscent of the filling of a meat egg roll combined with the strong flavor of salted fish fillet in nước mắm (brine). The most common fish used for making steam fish cakes is snakehead fish, though mackerel or catfish can be used as well.
1. Info for Vietnamese Meatloaf (Mam Chung Thit)
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Servings: 7
- Calories: 271 kcal
2. Ingredients for Vietnamese Meatloaf (Mam Chung Thit)
- 1 pound ground chicken (see tips)
- 1 Dungeness crab (uncooked)
- 1 (6-ounce) salted snakehead fish fillet in brine (see tips)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 (2-ounce) package dried bean thread noodles
- 1 can straw mushrooms, drained and halved
- 6 fresh wood ear mushrooms, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 yellow onions, finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- 8 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1-1/2 teaspoons mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
- 3/4 teaspoon egg yellow food coloring powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (or any neutral oil)
- Clean the crab, brush and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot, add about ½ to 1 cup of water and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes (see tips). Transfer to an iced bath for about 3 minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain and discard all the liquid.
- Remove and discard the abdominal flaps (the triangle-shaped tail). Lift and separate the back-fin with the rest of the claws by placing a large tablespoon at the bottom of the crab. Remove and discard the “lungs” (also known as Devil’s fingers; they have a spongy texture); they’re inedible.
- Gently remove the crab meat from the back-fins (the inner chambers are filled with meat). Gently crack the claws using a meat tenderizer mallet and gather all the crab meat in a large mixing bowl.
- Prepping the bean thread noodles: Place the dried bean thread noodles in a bowl. Don’t forget to cut the little cotton threads and discard them! Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes and drain. Chop into 1 inch threads. Set aside.
- Combine 6 eggs, 2 egg whites and the mushroom seasoning salt using a fork.
- In another bowl, beat 2 eggs with the yellow food coloring.
- Pat the fish fillet dry with paper towels. Remove and discard the bones. Thinly slice the fish. Pulse the fish into a fine powder using a mini-food processor.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Reserve 7 cilantro leaves for decoration.
- In the large mixing bowl containing the crab meat, add the ground meat. Season with ginger garlic paste, chopped onion, red chili powder and black pepper. Using food service disposable gloves, mix the meat. Add the green onions, cilantro, sugar and 6 eggs and whites. Add the wood ear mushrooms, the halved straw mushrooms and bean thread noodles. Mix well. Check seasoning (see tips).
- Lightly spray some oil on 7 (6-inch diameter) disposable pot pie pans. Remove the excess oil. Fill each tin with the meat mixture.
- Fill a large pot with cold water until it barely touches the steamer level. It’s important to start with cold water so the fish cakes cook evenly. Place all the tins in the steamer (I needed to stack 2 levels to fit all the tins), bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Steam for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Remove the tins and transfer to a baking sheet. Evenly coat each tin with the 2 remaining eggs. Garnish with a leaf of cilantro in the middle of each tin and bake for 15 minutes until the top is dried.
- Enjoy with Vietnamese rice (jasmine rice) or cơm tấm rice (see tips). Serve with sliced cucumber, pickled daikon radish and carrots, nước mắm sauce and / or tướng ớt (or Sriracha) on the side.
- Eat with chopsticks!