I find minced (or ground) meat handy when cooking for myself as it is so easy to control the portion size. Recipes that use ground meat are often much easier to modify than say recipes that use whole chicken breasts (we won’t even go down the whole chicken or bone in chicken route). I do chop chicken breasts up in to the large chunks that are my normal portion size (around 125g) but even then it can be difficult to judge the cooking time with the reduced weight.
I am therefore always on the hunt for new and interesting ways to use minced (ground) meat and these Vietnamese meatballs fit the bill perfectly. They are so scrumptiously good. I am not 100% sure that I would call them Vietnamese flavoured but they are definitely Asian inspired and I am more than happy to be set right on whether the flavours are Vietnamese or not. The flavours are a bit more powerful and dense than the Vietnamese I am used to which is based around herbs like lemongrass, chilli and Vietnamese mint. I have eaten in Vietnam but mainly at restaurants catering to tourists and I am never convinced about their authenticity.
Not that it really matters when the meal tastes this good. There is quite a smoky taste to the meal, perhaps because of the hoisin sauce which is quite a strongly flavoured sauce – in a good way.
To make these for one I used the following ingredients:
For the meatballs:
- 125g of minced beef – I use the premium low fat version
- ¼ of a red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbs of coriander (cilantro), chopped
- 1 tsp of minced garlic (equivalent to one clove)
- 1 tsp of minced ginger
- 1 tsp of fish sauce
- ½ tsp of honey
- ¼ of a red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ tbs of olive oil
For the sauce:
- 1 tbs of hoisin sauce
- ½ tbs of soy sauce
- 1 tsp of fish sauce
- ½ tbs of water
- ½ red chilli, finely chopped
The original recipe calls it a dipping sauce but I am not very good at coordinating meatballs and dipping so I poured the sauce on top of the meatballs just as they were nearly cooked through and warmed the sauce. I served them on top of steamed rice and the sauce seeped nicely through the rice. The sauce and rice would almost do me for a meal in itself, there is so much flavour.
Other than the warming of the dipping sauce, I followed the recipe as given. It is a simple recipe to make and doesn’t take long. The times given on the recipe are pretty accurate. Preparation time is about 10-15 minutes, maybe less using pre minced garlic and ginger and depending on your food processor. Cook time is about 12-13 minutes with heating up the oil and quickly warming the sauce. This is a lovely low calorie recipe – about 290 calories for the meatballs.
The one thing this recipe did remind me of, is that I need to go and buy a new food processor. Unlike most of my meatball recipes, this recipe calls for everything to be mixed in a food processor. It does mean everything is nicely combined and the meatballs are a bit smoother than usual. You could just mix by hand if you didn’t have a food processor and I am sure they would taste just as good and look a bit more rustic and possibly more authentic. Plus slightly less washing up to do.
Can anyone recommend a good small food processor? What do you have at home and do you love it?