Vietnamese Meatballs

I do not know what came over me on this recipe, but I think I was thinking of the Thai fish balls I made some time ago. If you have never tried that recipe, I encourage you. Simple, and nothing but delicious and packed with flavor, I wanted to make something different for my wife the other night. See, my wife and I just approached our twelfth anniversary. I know, I know, twelve wonderful years of marriage, but unfortunately, with three kids, and having the our anniversary fall on a ‘school’ night, I wanted to do something different, and something light.  I know I could have been that guy and cooked her the typical anniversary meal that night, such as some seared scallops, or creamy risotto, but I was not going down that path, nor have I ever gone down that path (I think).  Those standard anniversary meals come during other unexpected times.

As I was driving home from my thirty minute commute from work, I turned the radio off, cleared my mind, and began thinking of something unusual to make, and that is when I decided to take some really great Asian flavors and turn them into a meatball, only to be eaten in a nice bed of lettuce.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients: [ Print this Recipe ]

  • 2 lbs of chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped, plus more leaves for serving
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for serving
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 head of boston lettuce, cleaned and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded, thinly sliced

Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 Thai bird chili peppers, lightly smashed
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced

Begin by adding the chicken, garlic, shallot, salt, chili flakes, and fish sauce to a food processor and pulse it a few times until everything is finely chopped and mixed. Fold in the mint and cilantro, and let this marinate for about 30 minutes.

While this marinates, make the dipping sauce. Combine everything into a small mixing bowl, and set aside. This stuff is great, trust me.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In the meantime, take the chicken mixture out, and begin making your meatballs. I tend to go with a golf ball sized meatball, and wetting your hands with a bit of water helps prevent the meat mixture from sticking to your hands. Add the sugar to a plate, then take the meatballs and lightly roll them in the sugar. Add the meatballs, one by one to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I’m a fan of parchment paper. Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. The sugar will begin to caramelize the meatballs, and wow, are they good.

To serve, add the meatballs to a serving dish alongside the sauce. Have a plate of lettuce available, along with the thinly sliced red onion, cucumber, and the fresh mint and cilantro.

This is finger food, and hence why I wanted to bring that experience that night with my wife. Nothing like eating with your hands, there is just something about that.

Take a piece of Boston lettuce, add a meatball, a couple slices of red onion and cucumber, along with a sprig of cilantro and fresh mint leaves. Drizzle some of the sauce in the lettuce cup, fold, and get to it.

The result is nothing but a drive into flavor town. Hope you enjoy, and to my wife, I love you.

P.S. These would also be pretty fantastic on a sub sandwich of some sort, on the same lines of a banh mi.

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Dax Phillips

Thank you for visiting my website. Truly, I do appreciate it. My free time and stress reliever is cooking for my family, friends, and everyone in between. The recipes you find on this site are those that I have either created, been part of, or those that I simply enjoy and have made my own in some shape, form, or other. My focus has always been on comfort food, because at the end of a long work day, you want something comforting. I currently am the father of three children, and married to a wonderful wife of thirteen years. There is nothing fancy with these recipes, just simple, and I will admit, not so simple ingredients, and a simple kitchen corner I can call my own. I learned early on that cooking and bringing family together was very important. After all, this notion of being together at dinner time was instilled early on by my parents. There are many memories of being in the kitchen with my parents, watching them cook, or preparing meals, or those home cooked smells while waiting for dinner. My parents who worked full-time, always had home cooked meals during the week, with the exception of Friday nights where we would enjoy a Wisconsin fish fry, and often on late afternoons on Sunday, where we would order Ann's pizza. I tend to cook by making things up. As a home cook, I think you have to take chances, and add or subtract ingredients that make up a dish, and make them your own. Remember to taste, and taste often. If a dish has potential, try it again, and make it your own. You should also note that I do not count calories, or break down recipes into grams of anything. To me, that's a bit boring. My philosophy is that if the food is good, eat it, and eat it in moderation. Life is just too short not to enjoy good food. Commonly Asked Questions: Can I use your photography/content on my website/blog? Please do not redistribute my photography or recipes without my permission. All of the recipes and photography on this website are my own unless noted, and is subjected to copyright  If you’d like to use a photograph or a recipe, please contact me for permission. Will you review my product/book/site? I am available for recipe development, food photography and/or styling, travel/press events, product reviews, brand promotion/ambassador, and sponsored posts. If you are interested in working with me, or if you have a question/comment regarding a recipe or about my blog, please send me an email.

2 thoughts to “Vietnamese Meatballs”

  1. Hi! I just started subscribing to your blog and love it! This recipe is one reason why… I love your posts and recipes and look forward to hopping on here every morning.
    Thank you for wonderful food thoughts.

    Patty Reed

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