Recipe: Vietnamese Pork Meatballs
The history of the meatball can be traced back to Ancient Rome, the Chinese Qin Dinasty (221 BC) and can be seen in many ancient Arabic cookbooks. Almost every culture has a version with unique ingredients, various meats and spices and often no actual meat at all. One of our favourite meatball variations relies on Vietnam for it’s origin, where you’ll find them often served with rice noodles and vegetables and with a dipping sauce based on fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and chili. There’s also variations cooked in tomato sauce, served in baguette, but we’ll perhaps create that another time. For now it’s Vietnamese Pork Meatballs!
This version includes eggs and panko for binding, garlic, onion, fish sauce, green onion and lemongrass for flavour. It you wanted to make it gluten-free leave out the panko or use a gluten-free breadcrumb. You can serve these atop rice, quinoa or on their own with a side of the dipping sauce as an appetizer, but we like to throw them into a salad with rice noodles and season then with Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce Vinaigrette).
Vietnamese Pork Meatball Recipe
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2 cup panko
2 tablespoons finely minced lemongrass
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Gently mix together all of the ingredients and shape into 1 inch meatballs, about 2 tablespoons each.
Space out on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the heat up to broil and broil for 5 minutes for a bit of color, tossing midway through.
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette or use Blue Dragon Dipping Sauce or other brand if not available
1 clove garlic
1 small Thai chili, if desired (seeds removed)
3 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1 lime
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Crush the garlic, chili and sugar together with a mortar and pestle. Add the sugar, garlic and chili to the water and mix well. Add the lime juice, mix and then stir in the fish sauce and refrigerate.
Vermicelli Noodles – Prepared from package instructions.
Salad – Shred carrots, red pepper, cabbage, lettuce, sprouts, add steamed broccoli, cauliflower, beans, snow peas. Use up odds and ends from the fridge to make a tossed veggie salad. Add handfuls of fresh mint and cilantro.
Serve up meatballs, noodles, salad, family style on a dish with salad splashed with fish sauce vinaigrette and more on the side.