Our Favorite Vietnamese-Inspired Meatballs
These meatballs have created the basis for dozens of meals - they're just that good and that versatile. We were originally inspired by Charles Phan's phenomenal Slanted Door cookbook, and we've continued to make tweaks over time based on availability of ingredients and our own taste, and the results are consistently delicious. We've served these with hot vermicelli noodles with scallion oil; with squidgy boiled eggs for breakfast; with pickles and herby salads. However you decide to serve these, you won't be disappointed!
Suitable for: Low Carb, Keto, For Paleo, Primal, Whole30 replace white sugar in the pickles with honey or leave out.
1 pound good fatty ground pork (sub ground pork belly if you can, or consider using half ethical ground veal to up the fat if your pork is lean)
1/2 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce (it's lighter in color and flavor than the Chinese kind - try Red Boat or check out your local Asian supermarket)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped scallions - white parts only
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
Avocado oil (or other high-temperature neutral fat), for frying
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
Homemade Sriracha Mayo
1 large egg
1 cup light olive oil (or sub avocado oil)
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sriracha or sambal (store bought, or use Nom Nom Paleo's recipe to make your own)
Additional Garnish Options
Cooked vermicelli noodles with sesame or scallion oil
Thinly sliced scallions
Thai basil leaves
Blitz scallions, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped and reaching a paste - if you don't have one, just mince as finely as possible. Mix thoroughly with the rest of the meatball ingredients. Shape the meatballs into 1 1/2" balls (lightly oil your hands to prevent sticking) set onto a large plate or cookie sheet, and put in the fridge for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, mix the sugar and white vinegar well, until the sugar starts to dissolve. Place the sliced radishes in a bowl and pour over the vinegar and sugar mixture - making sure the radishes are submerged. Leave them to pickle until you're ready to eat. (If you're not using refined sugar, you can use honey, pickle only in vinegar or just leave the veggies raw with a little sesame or scallion oil - they're still delicious.)
To make the mayonnaise, place the egg at the bottom of a tall narrow container - like a large glass or smoothie container (we use one of the plastic cups from our nutri-bullet). Pour the olive oil in next, and then the vinegar and salt. Wait a minute for the egg to settle back down to the bottom. Use an immersion blender and place the blades right down at the bottom of the jar, over the egg. Turn it on full power, but keep it still. You will see the mayonnaise start to emulsify. Be patient - the better the blending, the thicker the mayo's consistency will be. Once the bottom has become good and thick, slowly start to lift the immersion blender to get any of the oil remaining on the top. Stir in sriracha to taste.
To cook the meatballs, heat avocado oil (or another high-temperature fat) in a heavy bottomed pan on the stove. When the oil is shimmering, add the meatballs to the pan. Make sure they're well seared on all sides, so you get the good crispy bits! You can cook them through on the stove, but we usually use an oven proof pan to sear them in and just pop it into a hot oven preheated to 200c/400f for about 15 minutes.
While the meatballs are finishing, prepare your garnishes. Cook vermicelli noodles, prepare rice, or chop veggies and herbs. If you are making squidgy eggs, bring a small pot of water to a boil on the stove. Reduce it to a rapid simmer, add your eggs, and start a timer for 7 minutes. When your seven minutes are up, cool your eggs quickly in a bowl of ice water, or under a cold running tap. If you want your eggs more done, add another minute of boiling. If you like them runnier, a minute or two less!
Take your meatballs out of the oven. While they have a minute to cool, dress your plates, Start with noodles or rice, if you're using, then add your veggies, pickles and a smear of mayo. If using, peel and slice your soft boiled eggs in half, add the meatballs, and voila! Lovely breakfast, brunch, lunch, or light dinner, ready to go.