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Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf)

Featuring ground pork, mung bean noodles, and wood ear mushrooms, Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf) is happy comfort food. You can steam or bake the meatloaf. The savory egg yolk topping is a signature finish and easy to do. Make sure to enjoy with rice ^_^

Wedges of baked and steamed Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung) served with rice.
Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf) and rice! Steamed version on top, and baked version on the bottom.

There is regular meatloaf…and then there is Cha Trung aka Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf! This one is light and eggy. It’s full of many different textures from the mung bean noodles to the crunch of the wood ear mushrooms.

Slice a wedge (or a square!) and eat with a big bowl of rice. No fuss, just comfy food all around.

Why This Recipe Works

Flexible.
This is a flexible recipe. Feel free to use more/less noodles, mushrooms, carrots, and onions. You can also add crab or shrimp for a deluxe version.

Multiple Cooking Methods
This meatloaf is traditionally steamed, but it can also be baked.

My sister pointed out that many people either don’t have a steaming set up or don’t like to steam so we came up with a great baking method. It involves a few neat tips to ensure the meatloaf stays juicy and the yolk topping comes out nice and golden.

Great for groups.
This recipe is good for group dinner and potlucks and is easy to prepare in advance. How could anyone not love this meatloaf recipe? It’s full of flavor and still very light in texture.

Ingredients for Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung): ground pork, mung bean noodles, wood ear mushrooms, eggs, carrots, onions, green onions, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken bouillon powder, and black pepper.
Ingredients for Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf).

Ingredients

Ingredients for Meatloaf

Ingredients for Egg Topping

Mixing together all the ingredients for Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung).
Mixing together all the ingredients.

Step by Step Directions

Prepare the mung bean noodles.
Place the noodle bundle in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit and soften for 15 minutes. Then drain well and cut the noodles into short 1-inch pieces.

Prepare the wood ear mushrooms.
Place the mushrooms in a bowl (use a large bowl as mushrooms will double in size) and cover with boiling water. Let sit and soften for 15 minutes. Then drain well and slice into thin strips.

Mix, mix, mix.
Place the ground pork, prepared mung bean noodles, prepared wood ear mushrooms, carrots, and onions in a bowl. Mix well. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken bouillon powder, and black pepper. Mix well. Add the egg whites and egg yolks. Mix until everything is evenly combined.

The mixture for Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung) poured into two round pans.
Dividing the mixture between two small dishes. You can do it one big dish, or split it up.

Pour in cooking pan.
Lightly oil your cooking pan. Pour the meatloaf mixture into the pan. Use a spoon to smooth out the top so that the surface is as even as possible.

Getting an even surface is key so that we can pour on the egg yolk topping later.

Note: Square pan, round pan, pyrex bowls, heatproof eating bowls. You can use any size and shape pan you want (or even multiple small bowls). Just aim for the meatloaf to be about 2-inches high.

Egg yolk topping.
Prepare the egg yolk topping by mixing together the egg yolks, fish sauce, and green onion. Set aside.

Two versions of Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung) pictured in the pan it was cooked in. The steamed version is pictured at top, and the baked version is at the bottom.
Steamed version on top, baked version on the bottom.

Now, the important question! Do you want to steam or bake?

Steam.
Steam for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid and pour the egg yolk mixture on top. Place the lid back on and steam for another 3 minutes until the egg yolk topping is cooked.

Bake.
Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

Tip: Bake in a water bath (place the pan with the meatloaf inside a larger pan and add 1/2-inch water to the larger pan). Or place a bowl of water in the oven (on the rack below the meatloaf) to help keep the meatloaf from drying out.

Once the meatloaf is cooked, open the oven and pour the egg yolk mixture on top of the meatloaf. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door partially open for 3-5 minutes, until the egg yolk topping is cooked.

Why keep the oven door open? If you close the oven door the egg yolk topping will cloud over and you won’t get that pretty bold yellow-orange finish.

Serve.
Remove the finished meatloaf from the steamer or oven. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Cut into wedges (or simply spoon out servings directly from the pan) and serve with rice!

Steam Versus Bake

Both options are delicious. Steaming is traditional, but baking also produces a beautiful dish. You can see in the photos that the steamed version has a light yellow finish. The baked version has a golden finish.

Personally? I like the look of the baked version, but I prefer the taste of the steamed version. The steamed one feels lighter, more fluffy, and eggier tasting. My husband prefers the baked version. There is no right or wrong, just personal preference.

If you’d like, you can divide the meatloaf mixture between two pans. Steam one and bake the other so you can compare side by side. That’s what we did for this post ^_^

Two versions of Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung). The steamed version is pictured at top, and the baked version is at the bottom. Both are pictured on individual plates with rice.
Steamed version on top, baked version on the bottom.

FAQs and Tips

How to reheat this dish?

I like to steam to reheat. Steaming gets the meatloaf warmed through without drying it out. If you must microwave, do it in 30 second increments.

What to serve with this?

First you need rice! And then you can add another dish.

My go-to dish to enjoy with this meatloaf is Vietnamese Garlic Eggplant! (That eggplant dish might actually be my favorite dish in the world, no kidding.)

Single serving, please.

Most people prepare this in a large square pan and cut into square pieces for serving. I prepared this recipe in a round pan (because that’s what we have at home) and cut wedges for serving.

Did you know you can also make small individual servings? Yes! They are super cute. Pour the meatloaf mixture into individual bowls (think rice bowl size) and steam or bake. Reduce the cooking time depending on the side of your bowl. Divide the egg yolk mixture evenly between each bowl. Once the egg yolk topping is fully cooked you can serve each guest their own personal meatloaf bowl!

How is this meatloaf served at restaurants?

If you’ve had this meatloaf served at a restaurant, it likely came as part of a combo plate with broken rice, the meatloaf, shredded pork skin, lemongrass pork chops, and different pickles.

We ate many of these plates at restaurant in Honolulu’s Chinatown growing up. I always thought of them as Vietnamese version of local plate lunch.

We’ve prepared all these individual components at home, but never at the same time. Usually we’ll just have rice plus one of the items for a meal. It’s always been a dream to prepare a full “combo plate” at home ^_^

Drain, drain, drain.

Make sure to drain the rehydrated mung bean noodles and wood ear mushrooms well. You don’t want extra liquid in the meatloaf mixture (it’ll end up too wet).

Substitutions or additions?

The addition of oyster sauce is not traditional. But it is delicious. Omit the oyster sauce if you want. Just make sure to increase the fish sauce a little.

Carrots are optional.

Feel free to add minced garlic.

Some people like to mix the green onions directly into the meatloaf batter. I prefer to mix it with the egg yolk topping for prettier presentation.

Add crab or shrimp to the meatloaf mixture. Either one of these options will make this dish extra delicious.

Get your egg yolk topping extra orange.

Some recipes call for annatto oil to be mixed in with the egg yolks. This will give the yolk topping that nice yellow-orange color.

Most people don’t have annatto oil on hand. The solution? Make a quick and easy substitute with a pinch each of turmeric and paprika powder. Yes! It’s pretty nice. Just mix it with the egg yolk, fish sauce, and green onions.

Wedge of baked Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung) served with rice.
Baked Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf) and rice, ready to eat!

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf) Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

Wedges of baked and steamed Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung) served with rice.

Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf)

Yield: 5-6 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Featuring ground pork, mung bean noodles, and wood ear mushrooms, Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf) is happy comfort food. We season it with fish sauce and oyster sauce. You can steam or bake the meatloaf. The savory egg yolk topping is a signature finish and easy to do. Make sure to enjoy with rice ^_^

Ingredients

Egg Topping

Instructions

  1. Prepare the mung bean noodles. Place the noodle bundle in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit and soften for 15 minutes. Then drain well and cut the noodles into short 1-inch pieces.
  2. Prepare the wood ear mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in a bowl (use a large bowl as mushrooms will double in size) and cover with boiling water. Let sit and soften for 15 minutes. Then drain well and slice into thin strips.
  3. Place the ground pork, prepared mung bean noodles, prepared wood ear mushrooms, carrots, and onions in a bowl. Mix well. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken bouillon powder, and black pepper. Mix well. Add the egg whites and egg yolks. Mix until everything is evenly combined.
  4. Pour the meatloaf mixture into a lightly oiled, heatproof pan. Use a spoon to smooth out the top so that the surface is even.
  5. Prepare the egg yolk topping by mixing together the egg yolks, fish sauce, and green onion. Set aside.
  6. To steam: steam for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid and pour the egg yolk mixture on top. Place the lid back on and steam for another 3 minutes until the egg yolk topping is cooked.
  7. To bake: bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes. Bake in a water bath (place the pan with the meatloaf inside a larger pan and add 1/2-inch water to the larger pan). Or place a bowl of water in the oven (on the rack below the meatloaf) to help keep the meatloaf from drying out. Once the meatloaf is cooked through, open the oven and pour the egg yolk mixture on top of the meatloaf. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door open for 3-5 minutes, until the egg yolk topping is cooked.
  8. Remove the finished meatloaf from the steamer or oven. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges (or simply spoon out servings directly from the pan) and serve with rice!
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