Monday, September 16, 2013

Vietnamese Meatballs

Okay ladies and gents, last night I branched WAY out of my comfort zone. I have had this recipe pinned on pinterest for quite some time now and it looks so so so so good in the picture but then I would pull up the recipe and see the ingredients and be so hesitant because of they are a bit odd for my tastes. BUT last night I buckled down for a new experience and guess what. It actually was a great experience. Even while making this whole dish I was saying "ummmm this is interesting". If you like fish sauce then this is an amazing recipe. I however think fish sauce smells of stinky feet so I was pretty much wanting to vomit in my mouth while making the meatballs and the broth. BUT I made it and it was great. Its spicy and salty and seriously tastes great. Even my husband who didn't want to try it at all said it was pretty good, although knowing how much fish sauce was in it made him never want to try it again haha.
If you are looking for an adventurous and yummy tasting recipe this is it!
The best thing about this dish is that its great for a weeknight meal because it takes less then 30 minutes to prepare it and cook it.
This recipe came from a blog called The Unadventures In Cooking. This woman had lived in Vietnam for a while and missed the food from there so she made this recipe so that it tasted exactly like it would back in Vietnam.

*This recipe serves 2*

Meatballs:
1/2 pound ground pork
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 finely sliced scallion, white part only

Dipping sauce:
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fresh birds eye chili
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 carrot

Serve with:
Fresh Herbs, ideally cilantro, mint and basil
Fresh lettuce
Vermicelli noodles

Combine the meatball ingredients into a bowl: pork, fish sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, and scallion. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the spices with the meat. Divide the meat into 6 equal parts and form each into a small, slightly flat ball. Heat your grill to medium-high to high heat.
To prepare the broth put the water, garlic and sugar into a small saucepan. Prepare the chili. If you found a real birds eye chili I suggest you wear gloves for this. Cut the chili in half and remove the seeds, slice in half and add to the broth along with the fish sauce. Bring to a simmer, stir so that the sugar dissolves and remove the broth from the heat. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon juice. Use a peeler to peel some very thin strips off of the carrot and add it to the broth. If your kitchen is warm, just leave it covered until you serve the meatballs or you can keep it on a low flame if your kitchen is cold.
Put a pot of water on to boil to cook the vermicelli noodles.
Grease your grill well and grill the meatballs on each side until thoroughly cooked. You want them to have a nice char but still be juicy. Remove to a plate, and quickly cook your vermicelli noodles in the boiling water, watch them carefully as they likely will only need 45 seconds or so. Drain them quickly and rinse them under cool water to help stop them from sticking together.

Plate it all together. To eat it like they do in Hanoi, serve the meatballs in a bowl of warm broth with vermicelli, herbs and fresh greens on the side, adding vermicelli and herbs to it as you eat. I quite like just piling it all into a bowl to begin with.
**Randi's Side Notes**
~ I did make a few alterations. I had no idea what a birds eye chili was so since I had a jalapeno in my fridge I just used that. I cut it in half and only used half of it with no seeds. To me the dish was a little bit to spicy. Well it wasn't like a spice like "ohhhh hot hot hot" it was more like my mouth was left warm after eating a hot soup. Second, I used a fresh Chinese noddle that you find in the refrigerated section at the grocery store.
~I would leave out or at least cut the salt content in half when making the meatballs. We both found them very overpowering in salt.
~ I personally only used fresh cilantro and basil and smothered the top with them. I say the more herbs the better. They bring a real brightness to the dish.

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